Q & A: As owner of 100 Starbucks, 30 Burger Kings and 16 condo projects, Johnson's an all-star entrepreneur

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Retired NBA star Earvin "Magic" Johnson is a major-league businessman and philanthropist through his own foundation. A partner with Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand since 2003, appearing in its TV commercials, Mr. Johnson spoke with Detroit Bureau Chief Jean Halliday last week before heading to Miami for the African-American Film Festival, which he'll help judge.

How has your life changed since you retired from the NBA?

My life is great after I got a handle on HIV. ... I own 100 Starbucks, 30 Burger Kings, 10 24-Hour Fitness Clubs and I've been able to raise almost $1 billion for 16 mixed-use retail and condo projects. I employ 20,000 people and by the end of the year I'll probably have 40,000.

What's must-see TV for you?

I'm not a big TV watcher. But I love to watch [NBC's] "Law and Order." I also like to keep up with the news, so I watch CNN and MSNBC.

What electronic device can't you live without?

My cellphone for as much as I travel and for business. I only cut it off when I'm at dinner or on a date or on vacation with [wife] Cookie.

What's your favorite new toy?

My plane-a Gulfstream.

What's your favorite vehicle to drive?

I only have one. It's the Lincoln Navigator. I have a limo, but I don't drive it all the time. I'm not into trying to buy a lot of vehicles. I'm into buying a lot of businesses.

How did you hook up with Lincoln?

Chuck Morrison at UniWorld-him and I go way back to our Cola-Cola [commercial] days. ... I have more than 225 students on scholarships and Lincoln Mercury helps send these kids to college.

Who do you like to win the NBA Championship this year?

That's easy-Detroit. They got it all. They got defense, offense and they have really shown the basketball world how to play like a team. If the NBA wants to promote basketball on TV, it should promote teamwork.
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