KFC: Paid Plug at Michael Jackson Memorial?

Was Magic Johnson’s KFC story at Michael Jackson’s memorial a paid product placement?

Magic Johnson received three NBA MVP Awards, appeared in twelve All-Star games and won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the USA “Dream Team.“  In 1996, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.  In 2002, he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Yet the greatest moment of Magic Johnson’s  life was when he learned Michael Jackson ate Kentucky Fried Chicken?

While Magic’s KFC anecdote during a eulogy at Michael Jackson’s memorial service struck me as bizarre (what MJ-related news isn’t bizarre?), it struck the cynical YouTube commenters as deeply suspicious.

More than a few have accused Magic Johnson of using his moment in front of perhaps hundreds of millions of viewers to slip in a powerful product placement for the fast food chain.

Was Magic Johnson paid to mention KFC?  YouTube cynics weigh in.

evegotch wrote:

What’s with the shameless plug for KFC? The greatest moment of his life was when Michael Jackson ate KFC? B.S. Never happened. Magic Johson get’s paid for plugging KFC, he just made 3 million dollars with that statement! Rev. Al Sharpton has publicly boycotted KFC and Magic Johnson is plugging his sponsor at Michael’s memorial!!

upcycle wrote:

I thought the KFC comment was strange. Now I am thinking the Magic Johnson may have struck a contract with KFC for that story. Imagine .. it would be worth multiple millions of dollars to have that spoken in front of hundreds of millions of people, by a popular idol athlete about a popular rock celebrity. Show Me the Money!

Nuca12345 wrote:

Shameless advertising! This useless junkie  is just doing brand placement here. Magic starred in a KFC commercial in the late 90s, you can find it by typing Magic Johnson KFC in youtube. Unbelievable that some people fell for it! This is the beginning of my KFC boycott! Totally disgraceful

Could the Magic Johnson anecdote have been – directly or indirectly – a paid product placement for KFC?

KFC could certainly use some positive publicity after the botched Oprah giveaway that frustrated millions and has resulted in class action lawsuits alleging bait-and-switch tactics.  And the international viewership of the memorial service is staggering.

But would fast food giant YUM brands and basketball hall-of-famer Magic Johnson really stoop to pitching fast food at a memorial service?


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