Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, or the BET network, shares the title of America’s first black billionaire with his ex-wife, Sheila. The former couple became billionaires when they sold BET to Viacom for $2.9 billion in 2001. Nine years earlier, BET went public and was the first African-American-owned company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Since then, Robert and Sheila have achieved various other entrepreneurial milestones. In 2003, Johnson became the first African-American to be the majority owner of a professional sports team, the Charlotte Bobcats NBA basketball team. Meanwhile, Sheila was the African-American woman to be a part owner of three professional sports teams — the Mystics (WNBA), the Wizards (NBA) and the Capitals (NHL).
Robert has also founded an investment firm, a digital content distributor and an on-demand video streaming subscription service, and Sheila has launched and led a resort chain, a film festival and a venture capital firm.