May 23, 2024

Sheila Johnson is among the most influential Black people that you probably don’t know.
That is until you learn that she founded the popular BET.
This Black pioneer is worth an impressive $780 million; she even reached billionaire status in 2003.
However, how did Johnson reach that milestone?
Read on and find out!
Everyone knows Black Entertainment Network.
Johnson co-founded BET with her then-husband, Robert L. Johnson, in 1979.
However, the couple had angel investor John Malone to thank; his $500,000 investment gave BET the capital it needed to start and run.
BET became one of the prominent names in Black entertainment, and in 1991, it became the first Black-owned TV company on the New York Stock Exchange.
During this time, Johnson launched a program targeting teenagers called Teen Summit.
Johnson left BET in 1999; in 2001, Viacom bought the network for $3 billion.
Johnson built Salamander Resort in 2005, despite much backlash.
Johnson was receiving hate mail, with both her and her children receiving death threats.
Despite such negativity, the serial entrepreneur pushed on and built the resort on her property.
The resort cost an eye-watering $130 to build, which Johnson personally financed.
She saw the resort’s potential and how it could benefit the town of Middleburg.
And her determination worked.
The resort wasn’t just profitable; it also helped to bring the town added revenue.
And Johnson created events like the Middleburg Film Festival, hosted at the resort, which brought in swathes of visitors.
The resort became a vital part of the town’s community five years after its launch.
But Salamander Resort isn’t the only one Sheila Johnson owns.
In 2007, while Salamander Resort was still under construction, Johnson bought another resort called Innisbrook Golf Resort & Spa.
Based in Tampa Bay, Florida, the resort has four championship golf courses.
Every March, the resort also hosts the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.
But Innisbrook was in disrepair when Johnson bought it.
She spent between $25 and $30 million renovating the 900-acre resort, and Innisbrook is now among the premiere destinations in Florida.
Johnson has also made significant investments in sports.
She is Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Vice Chair.
Through this company, Johnson became the only Black woman to have an ownership stake in three pro sports teams:
BET was just the start for Sheila Johnson.
She has made significant investments that have become considerably profitable, benefitting their surrounding communities.
And Johnson looks nowhere near done investing, so it won’t be a surprise to see her re-enter the billionaires club.

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