NEWBOS: The Rise of America's Black Overclass

June 23, 2010

Based on Lee Hawkins’ forthcoming book, “NEWBOS: The Rise of America's Black Overclass” a CNBC special, featuring personal stories and interviews with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, including: Lebron James, Torii Hunter, Terrell “T.O.” Owens, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Wyclef Jean, Lil’ Wayne and the Williams Brothers of Cash Money Records, Kirk Franklin, Bob Johnson and anchored by Wall Street Journal reporter/CNBC correspondent Lee Hawkins, premiering Thursday, February 26 at 9 PM/1 AM ET and again on March 1.

In this original one-hour documentary, CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, provides a close-up look at the experiences of these self-made black multimillionaires, many of whom grew up poor, are mostly under age 40, and have primarily made their vast fortunes in the sports, entertainment and media industries, usually by taking more ownership and control over their brands. Collectively, black athletes in the NFL, NBA, and in Major League Baseball earned more than $4 billion last year and the nation’s 20 highest-paid hip-hop entrepreneurs brought in more than $500 million. Their newfound wealth has profound implications on their lives and their families. NEWBOs exposes and chronicles their experiences and insights as they move from relative poverty to fantastic wealth at a very young age.

Among the many insights, the Williams brothers discuss the entrepreneurial skill that helped them land a $30 million distribution deal with Universal Records while still in their 20s.Hunter discusses his efforts to use his celebrity as a way to expose more black youth to baseball in an era in which the number of blacks in the league has declined to 7.6%. LeBron James discusses his decision to fire his agent and form his own African-American controlled marketing company, which now oversees his $90 million endorsement contract with Nike and numerous other projects. Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson discusses the need for more intergenerational mentorship and economic collaboration between NEWBOs and the economic empowerment that could result if they begin to pool their financial resources and launch joint ventures.

“NEWBOS: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass,” reports on how NEWBOs’ experiences often differ from those of their white counterparts and posits the questions: Who are they? How did they become rich? What have they learned as wealth builders and entrepreneurs? What can we learn from them? What are some of their biggest challenges? What are their ultimate aspirations? Do they feel they have a responsibility to the rest of black America? Is the role of black celebrities changing in the Obama age? How important are social awareness and charitable involvement in the context of wealth? How has racism affected them? Will they rise to the challenges and opportunities that accompany their wealth and fame or will they squander their clout in frivolity?