Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 20, 2023

Photo doesn’t show Magic Johnson donating blood

If Your Time is short

  • This photo was taken in 2012, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and doesn’t show Magic Johnson donating blood.

An old image of former Los Angeles Laker Earvin "Magic" Johnson is getting renewed attention on social media, but with an inaccurate description. 

"Earlier today, NBA legend Magic Johnson donated some of his blood to the Red Cross to help underprivileged communities help fight COVID-19," read a screenshot of a tweet that featured an image of Johnson getting his blood drawn.

An Instagram post sharing the screenshot was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

In the screenshot, the tweet appears to be from an account called @cocksources. We didn’t find it there searching on March 20. But the account describes its posts as "all SATIRE." CBS Sports reported in August 2022 that the image was "posted by a satire account."

The image predates the COVID-19 pandemic by about a decade, dating back to a 2012 Frontline documentary called "Endgame: AIDS in Black America." The image is a still from the documentary that NPR published on its site that year, crediting Frontline, with this caption: "Dr. David Ho, an HIV/AIDS specialist, draws blood from Magic Johnson, one of the people featured in ‘Endgame: AIDS in Black America.’"

Featured Fact-check

This moment happens in the documentary starting around the 1:07 mark. There’s no suggestion that Johnson, who is HIV positive and discusses his diagnosis in the documentary, was donating blood. 

On Aug. 23, 2022, he tweeted: "I’m aware of the false story circling the internet, and to be clear, I have never donated blood."

On its website, the Red Cross says, "Do not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test." 

We rate claims that this photo shows Johnson donating blood to help in the pandemic False.


Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Photo doesn’t show Magic Johnson donating blood

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up