While Mannie Jackson was a standout player for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s, his legacy with the Globetrotters and the game of basketball was as the team’s owner. Jackson became the first African-American to own a major international sports/entertainment organization when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993. Jackson achieved a dramatic corporate turnaround, reviving the near-bankrupt organization and restoring its status as one of the most admired and publicized teams in the world, while increasing revenue five-fold and rebuilding the fan base to near record levels.
During Jackson’s regime, the Globetrotters charitable contributions totaled more than $11 million. In the 1996-97 season, Jackson and the Globetrotters were instrumental in securing over $2 million to the Nelson Mandela African Children’s Foundation. In the fall of 1997, Jackson announced an endowment of $100,000 to the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation of Edwardsville, Ill., helping provide youth with college scholarships and pledged $250,000 to the Globetrotters Alumni Association.
In the 2001-2002 season, Jackson directly contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross for the Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. In 2003, Jackson presented the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a quarter of a million dollar donation to continue basketball's greatest legacy. In Jan. 2005, Jackson pledged $100,000 to UNICEF to aid victims of the tsunami in Asia, as well as a $250,000 donation to the Edwardsville YMCA. In Sept. 2005, Jackson donated $200,000 to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Jackson sold 80 percent of the team to Shamrock Capital Growth Fund in Sept. 2005 and stepped away from his day-to-day operations of the team when the Globetrotters announced the appointment of Kurt Schneider as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer in May 2007. Jackson remains the Globetrotters’ Chairman of the Board and still owns 20 percent of the team.
Born in a railway boxcar in Illmo, Mo., Jackson grew up in Edwardsville, Ill., earning the title of Illinois’ “Mr. Basketball,” and attended the University of Illinois, becoming the first African-American ever on the Illini basketball team, where he was named captain and earned All-American honors in 1960. He is also a charter member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, and a member of the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, as well as a charter member of the Black Legends of Professional Basketball. He received the Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Aug. 3, 1993.
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