It may come as a surprise that the creator of one of children’s favorite toys, the Super Soaker water gun, is an African-American, and he is now $200 million richer from his invention.
Scientist and engineer Lonnie George Johnson, who appeared on CNBC’s Business Nation’s segment titled “How I Made My Millions,” told the story of how the water gun made him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.
“At a point, I thought, why don’t I take time off the high-tech science stuff on hold for a while and see if I can develop a toy that something, that anybody, can appreciate. It was actually about a year later that I had my first working gun,” Johnson explained
With little or no advertising, the gun was put in stores and the manufacturers couldn’t believe the demand.
“The demand was so much that the production company couldn’t keep up,” Johnson said. “Of course, I was going to create a business around it. I was going to manufacture it and sell it and make some money. When I received my first royalty cheque, I knew I wasn’t prepared for it.”
The Super Soaker gun to date generates millions of dollars in annual sales.
It turned out to be the top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992 and has held its ranking among the world’s top 20 best-selling toys every year since its creation.
A former employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 64-years old Johnson has since used part of his wealth to build himself a high-tech laboratory and he is now actively involved in serious scientific research.