Johnson, who has been HIV-positive for decades and cannot donate blood, took to Twitter to refute the story. “I’m aware of the false story circling the internet, and to be clear, I have never donated blood,” he said.
I’m aware of the false story circling the internet, and to be clear, I have never donated blood.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) August 23, 2022
The original story came from a Twitter account called @CockSources, which advertises the account as satire. “•Featured on BarstoolSports & YahooSports | •spreading narratives with misinformation (satire) | •Real posts will have sources in replies,” the account bio reads.
But enough people were sucked in by the initial post — and did not check to see whether the account was satire — that Snopes published a fact-check on the claim. The outlet noted that the actual photo of Johnson came from a medical exam that Johnson had undergone as part of the 2012 documentary “Endgame: AIDS in Black America.”
The same photo triggered a similar response — and another Snopes fact-check — in 2015, when it was used to assert that Johnson had donated blood to help leukemia and lymphoma patients.
At that time, the photo circulated along with a false article claiming, “Retired NBA star, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, has decided to run a blood drive in conjunction with American Red Cross to support the National Awareness Month for Leukemia and Lymphoma. So far, Johnson has had a [sic] of 1,827 donors including himself and has saved about 438 patients so far.”
“Everything about this is deranged. From the original meme that this spiraled out of, to Magic even having to address it in the first place, to the replies in this thread here. People need education, man,” Twitter user Dee Phunk said of the recent situation.
“I can’t describe how sh***y it is that @MagicJohnson has to issue this statement because of the laziness of others,” Ryan Doyle agreed.
Johnson went public with his HIV status and announced his retirement from professional basketball in 1991, and has since devoted countless hours to raising awareness for HIV and safer sex practices. He did return to the court for the NBA All-Star Game in 1992, and played with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1995-96 season, but he has since made his retirement official.