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What's the story behind the viral photo of Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, and Madonna?

Magic Johnson (left); Mike Tyson (center); Madonna (right)
Magic Johnson (left); Mike Tyson (center); Madonna (right)
Johny Payne
Modified 07 Jan 2021, 14:30 IST

The story behind the viral photo of Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, and Madonna – alongside a few other celebrities – is that the photo is not real! 

This photo features Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Jack Nicholson, Eddie Murphy, and Prince.

The photo was actually a composite of different photographs that were captured over the years. This viral photo’s story traces its origins back to February of 2017.

Mike Tyson was one of the celebrities in the photo that captivated fans across multiple industries

Basketball icon Magic Johnson is in the center of the photo. Professional boxing legend and former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson is featured on the right of the photo.

Music legend and ‘The Queen of Pop’ Madonna can be seen behind Mike Tyson on the right of the photo. Fellow music legend, the late great Michael Jackson, appears behind Madonna.

Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson is on the left side. Meanwhile, comedy legend and Hollywood mainstay Eddie Murphy can be seen behind Jack Nicholson. And music legend, the late great Prince, is featured behind him.

Needless to say, with multiple legends from different spheres of the sports and entertainment worlds seemingly being captured in one photograph, fans worldwide were left in awe.


The photo went viral after Snoop Dogg shared it on his Instagram account

But how did the photo featuring Mike Tyson and the other celebrities go viral in the first place? Well, most people who remember this incident, which took the internet by storm in 2017, credit Snoop Dogg for it.

Hip hop legend and award-winning musician Snoop Dogg shared this photo on his Instagram account on February 17th, 2017. Fans can view the archived Instagram post at this link.

This photo was originally created and published for an article by Bleacher Report Magazine on February 14th, 2017. The article was about a one-on-one dream match between basketball legends Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. The match never took place.

Nevertheless, NBA followers and basketball fans around the globe believed that if this match would’ve come to fruition, it would’ve likely answered who the better player was between the two all-time-greats.

The fake photo was composited, but sourced from real photos

The photo that went viral was deemed as fake, despite multiple social media users claiming that it was indeed real. Debates and discussions regarding the veracity of the photo raged on in the ensuing years.

Many claimed that the photo was real and showed Magic Johnson heading into the NBA playoffs with his celebrity friends. However, this claim has been debunked on several occasions.


The photo of Magic Johnson was clicked by Andrew D. Bernstein and showed Johnson strolling in LA back in 1988. On the other hand, Jack Nicholson’s photo was taken at the premiere of The Crossing Guard in 1995.

Madonna and Michael Jackson were indeed photographed together at the Oscars in 1991, and this photo of theirs was used as a part of the composited photo.

These photos, with the photos of Eddie Murphy and Prince, were blended together to create a masterful composite that went viral largely due to Snoop Dogg’s Instagram post.

Be that as it may, the photo has led to many interesting debates and discussions on the internet in the years that followed.

Published 07 Jan 2021, 14:30 IST
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