Retired NBA play Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman will likely be the next owner of Ebony magazine after bidding $14 million in US Bankruptcy Court.
According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the former Milwaukee Bucks forward’s Bridgeman Sports and Media was announced as the successful bidder by a bankruptcy court in Houston, Texas on Friday (December 18).
The sale was expected to be finalized Tuesday (December 22) according to Leonard Simon, a Houston-based attorney representing Ebony Media Group.
Ebony was founded in 1945 by John H. Johnson, and became a staple in Black American households for decades before declining advertisement revenue and the digital age created financial setbacks.
Bridgeman, 67, told the Tribune he believes he can get the magazine back into profitability using “the right ideas and the right execution.”
“When you look at Ebony, you look at the history not just for Black people, but of the United States,” he said.
In 2016, Ebony and its sister publication Jet were sold to a private equity fund in Texas. By 2018, the magazine had a $80,000 lawsuit on its hand for unpaid wages to dozens of freelancers. Last year, the magazine stopped publishing altogether and put its photo archive of more than four million photos up for sale. The collection was purchased by four foundations who donated it to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute, so that the photos can be accessed by the public, according to the New York Times.
Ultimately, the magazine defaulted on $10 million in loans in July, forcing the equity fund into Chapter 7 bankruptcy which was later converted into Chapter 11.
Bridgeman, a successful businessman with 450 fast food franchises and a Coca-Cola distribution company, said of the purchase and work ahead, “Nothing is ever easy, but this would be, I think, a labor of love.”
Photos: Getty Images