Bridgeman Sports and Media, a company owned by former NBA star and entrepreneur Junior Bridgeman, has become the new owner of Ebony Magazine after a successful bid to purchase the bankrupt media firm for $14 million.
Founded in 1945 by John H. Johnson, the magazine enjoyed a wide readership before a drop in ad revenues and the internet led to its fall. According to the Wall Street Journal, a bankruptcy judge was expected to approve the deal on Tuesday.
The magazine was forced into Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in July by its creditors for defaulting on $10 million in loans, according to Chicago Tribune. However, the bankruptcy was converted into a voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in September, the Tribune added.
Despite the woes of Ebony, Bridgeman, 67, is optimistic of returning the once-revered Black-owned publication in America to profit and to a place of prominence in American culture. He said, with “the right ideas and execution”, the plan could materialize in no time. “Nothing is ever easy, but this would be, I think, a labor of love,” Bridgeman said.
He told the WSJ that Ebony portrayed Black excellence adding that he sees no reason it could not regain its old status. He also said that while there will be monthly print publications, it will remain largely digital. “When you look at Ebony, you look at the history not just for Black people, but of the United States,” Bridgeman told the Tribune. “I think it’s something that a generation is missing and we want to bring that back as much as we can.”
The ex-NBA star played for Milwaukee Bucks for 10 seasons before moving to the Los Angeles Clippers to ply his trade for two seasons. Upon retiring, he built and sold one of the largest U.S. restaurant franchisees.
Ebony wasn’t his first attempt to buy a media organization. He made an effort to acquire Sports Illustrated but later abandoned the idea last year. He is now the owner of Lenexa-based Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company whose distribution territory includes Kansas, Missouri, and Southern Illinois.