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Orlando Magic release statement on donation to Desantis super PAC

orlando magic logo court

NBA team owners make political donations all the time, primarily to Republican candidates and causes. NBA players make political donations all the time, with the majority of the money and endorsements going to Democratic candidates. The actual teams, however, stay neutral, largely under the premise that they are trying to keep politics out of sports (or, phrased more accurately, they want to sell tickets to everyone).

This year, the Orlando Magic made a $50,000 donation to Never Back Down Inc., the super PAC of Florida Governor and presidential hopeful Ron Desantis.

After the news became public and in the face of a backlash, the Magic released this statement (first reported by the New York Times):

“To clarify, this gift was given before Governor DeSantis entered the presidential race. It was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of Central Florida.”

DeSantis officially declared his run for president on May 24, 2023, in a live event on then Twitter (now X) with Elon Musk. The Magic said the check was dated May 19, although it was not registered with the FEC until June 26. By May 19 it was no secret that Desantis would announce a presidential run soon. This was not an unexpected announcement, it had been discussed for months, and it’s hard to think the Magic didn’t know what this donation would go towards.

The NBA players’ union released an official statement calling the donation — from the team, made with money the organization earned off the labor of the players — “alarming.”

The backlash to the news the Magic had made the donation was best summed up by Pelicans’ veteran forward Larry Nance Jr.

The DeVos family owns the Magic, and the family has been reliable Republican donors for many years (the late Richard DeVos purchased the Magic back in 1991). The team’s current governor is Richard’s son, Dan DeVos. Betsy DeVos, Dan’s sister-in-law, was the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2017-2021 under former President Donald Trump.

The Magic’s jersey sponsor is Disney, a company in an ongoing feud with Desantis dating back to the company’s opposition to what is commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Desantis has made his fight with Disney a part of his presidential campaign.