Hoaxes & Rumors

Debunked: This isn’t a photo of Magic Johnson donating blood

Debunked: This isn’t a photo of Magic Johnson donating blood

A photo which has circulated online since early 2013 allegedly shows HIV-positive Magic Johnson donating blood. The photo is real but the caption is not.

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Johnson was having blood drawn – not donating it.

Let’s take a look at the photo, and how it has been circulated over the past two years.

2013 Hoax

The image circulated online in March 2013 with claims that the former NBA star donated blood for “charity.” Twitter users were aghast at the idea of blood being donated by an HIV positive individual.

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As discovered by BuzzFeed, however, the photo could be traced back to a 2012 documentary entitled “Endgame: AIDS in Black America.” The original caption of the photo read, “Dr. David Ho, an HIV/AIDS specialist, draws blood from Magic Johnson…”

Johnson was having blood drawn, not donating it.

2014 Fake News

The same photo resurfaced in September 2014 as part of a fake news story which stated that Johnson was running a blood drive in honor of National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. That story was published by NewsBuzzDaily.com, which posts fake news in the name of satire.

Google Trends

The chart below shows search history on this image. As you can see, it first peaked in March 2013, and has had a couple of small surges since then.

Bottom Line

The photo which allegedly shows Magic Johnson donating blood is actually a photo of the former star NBA having his blood drawn several years ago. The image has been mislabeled and circulated on multiple occasions since early 2013.

Updated May 7, 2015
Originally published March 2013

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