The Magic Is Gone. Orlando Partner Betrays Disney With Huge DeSantis Donation

Orlando Magic donate to DeSantis PAC
Credit: Flickr/ Disney

In the early 1990s, the NBA was looking to expand. There were two logical sites: Charlotte, North Carolina, and Miami, Florida. Both cities had built-in fanbases and basketball history. But a second city in Florida was looking for a professional sports team: Orlando.

At the time, Orlando wasn’t nearly as big as it is now. If the NBA decided to put a new team in the city, Orlando would be one of the smallest cities with a team in the league. But what Orlando did have was Walt Disney World. If the proposed team could somehow find a way to connect with Disney World, it would help the application. And thus, the Magic was born, with a logo eerily like a Disney creation.

Just before the 2022-23 NBA season, Disney wrote a huge check to sponsor the Magic and have their logo prominently displayed on the front of the Magic’s jersey. When the announcement was made, the Magic paraded out point guard Markelle Fultz spinning a ball with Mickey gloves and ears on.

Disney Fireworks

Credit: Disney

But now, it seems that the Magic have made a decision that is going to anger their corporate partner in Orlando. The Magic wrote a $50,000 check to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ PAC, “Never Back Down, Inc.” The check did not come from the team owners, but in an unusual move, it was written directly by the team itself.

While it is not unusual for sports owners to write checks to political candidates, it is virtually unheard of for a team to write a check. After news of the donation became public, the Magic released a statement that the check was written before Governor DeSantis declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. The check was dated May 19; Gov DeSantis announced on May 24.

However, there were rumors about Governor DeSantis running for weeks leading up to his announcement, and in the days leading up to it, everyone knew that it was coming. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

The DeVos family owns the Orlando Magic. Richard DeVos bought the team in 1991, and is currently run by his son, Dan. Dan DeVos is Betsy DeVos’s brother-in-law, the Secretary of Education under former President Donald Trump.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the Orland Magic have made past donations totaling $3,000. But it appears this is the first time an NBA team donated such a sizeable Presidential campaign or super PAC donation.

Walt Disney World and the Florida Governor are currently involved in a legal battle over Disney’s response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Gov Ron DeSantis reacted by eliminating the Reedy Creek Improvement District and replacing it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Disney did not respond to numerous outlets’ questions about the donation to the DeSantis campaign.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.


About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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