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22 Athlete Entrepreneurs

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athlete entreneurs

If you’ve seen the ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Broke,” you saw what happens when some athletes get money. They can’t handle it. A lot of them go broke. They don’t have mentors or know how to be successful with their finances. The good thing is that every athlete doesn’t squander their millions. Some do very well with their money. They are business minded and have become success stores for others. In today’s post, I will go over several athlete entrepreneurs who have been brilliant and made more money.

Sports Entrepreneurs

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. He played shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. Jordan is currently the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. According to Forbes, his net worth is over $1.1 billion. Some of his endorsements include Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties, and Hanes.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams is a professional tennis player. She has been ranked number one in singles three times. She has a net worth of $75 million. Venus has an interior design firm called V Starr Interiors. She also has a clothing line called EleVen. Some of her endorsements are Ralph Lauren, Tide, and Kraft. She is also a part-owner of the Miami Dolphins.

LeBron James

LeBron James is arguably the best player in the NBA. His net worth is $300 million. He has endorsements with Nike, Upper Deck, and Dunkin Donuts. He also has a digital video company called Uninterrupted. In 2018 Lebron James and his business partner Dany Garcia joined up with Cindy Crawford, Lindsey V., and Arnold Schwarzenegger to found Ladder, a company that looks after health and wellness.

George Foreman

Next on the list of athlete entrepreneurs is George Foreman. He is a former two-time world heavyweight champion boxer. He became a spokesperson for George Foreman Grills in 1994. He is also an ordained minister and has authored 10 books. His net worth is estimated at approximately $250 million.

Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal Ripken Jr. was a shortstop and a 3rd baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. He is known as baseball’s ironman, having played 2632 consecutive games. He currently owns multiple minor league baseball teams. He also has a stadium design business and a licensing memorabilia company. His net worth is $75 million.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson is a former point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is currently a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He founded his company Magic Johnson Enterprises, in 1987. Over the years, he’s owned movie theaters and restaurants around the US. His business savvy ideas have allowed his net worth to grow to $500 million. Magic Johnson is one of my favorite athlete entrepreneurs.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champ. He last played QB for the Denver Broncos. He has endorsements with Master Card, Direct TV, Gatorade, and Kraft. He also owned 21 Papa John’s restaurants. He has over $12 million in endorsement deals from companies like Nationwide Insurance, Buick, and more, making Peyton Manning the richest NFL player, according to Forbes. His net worth is sitting around $250 million.

Roger Staubach

Roger Staubach is a former QB of the Dallas Cowboys. He started a commercial real estate business called The Staubach Company in the late 1970s. Staubach sold his company to Jones Lang LaSalle for $613 million. He also had endorsements with Rolaids and with clothing retailer Anderson Little.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. She has a total of 21 grand slam singles titles. She has endorsement deals with companies such as Gatorade, Delta Airlines, Aston Martin, and Pepsi. She is also a minority owner of the Miami Dolphins. Her net worth is $140 million. She is one of the best successful women entrepreneurs in the world.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is a former NBA center who played most notably for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. Shaq has had endorsements with several companies such as Icy Hot, Reebok, Comcast, Radio Shack, and Taco Bell. As a venture capitalist, Shaq has invested in several companies, such as PepsiCo and Apple. Shaq’s net worth is $250 million.

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer is a retired golfer. He is regarded as one of the greatest of all time in the sport. He has endorsed companies such as Rolex and Ketel One. His company, The Arnold Palmer Design Company, has created hundreds of golf courses over the years. His net worth is $675 million.

Jamal Mashburn

Jamal Mashburn is a former NBA small forward who played for multiple NBA teams, including the Dallas Mavericks. Mashburn has several successful businesses. He owns several restaurants such as Papa John’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Dunkin Donuts. He also owns multiple car dealerships. His net worth is $45 million.

Marshawn Lynch Marshawn

Marshawn Lynch is a former running back for the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks. He has endorsements with Skittles, Nike, PepsiCo, Activision, and Progressive. It is reported that he hasn’t spent any of his NFL earnings. His net worth is $30 million. Lynch also owns an apparel company called Beast Mode Apparel LLC.

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is a former American professional baseball shortstop and baseball executive. He established himself as an entrepreneur after being one of the world’s most appreciated and marketable athletes for over two decades. He co-founded The Player Tribune. His total net worth is $185 million after his endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade, Rawlings, and others.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson is a retired professional wrestler with the ring name ‘’The Rock”, an actor, producer, and businessman. He co-founded Seven Bucks Production and Digital Personal Finance Service Acorns, a micro-investing platform that will help parents invest in their kid’s future with his business partner Dany Garcia. He and his business partner teamed up with Redbird Capital to buy an XFL football club in August 2020. His net worth is around $320 million.

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is an American professional female wrestler, a model, former mixed martial artist, an actress, an advertising supernova, and an entrepreneur. She is in partnership with the company Mizuno and has endorsement deals with Carl’s Jr., Fanatics, Iconix, Metro by T-Mobile, Monster Energy Drink, Procter & Gamble, Reebok, and Xyience. She is the author of my fight or your fight. She is currently building a farm called Browse Acres with her husband. She is promoting the idea of self-reliance. Her net worth is $12 million.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is a former American swimmer with records for Olympic gold medals. He is the most successful swimmer of all time. He is also an entrepreneur and a mental health advocate. He is the CEO of PHELPS Foundation and one of the company’s board members, Medibio. He earns most of his income from brand sponsorship and endorsement with companies such as Aqua Sphere, Omega, Under Armour, and Beats by Dre. And earn indirectly from books, films, appearance, and social media engagement deals. His net worth is sitting around $80 million.

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is a former American professional baseball shortstop, a philanthropist, and an entrepreneur. He is the chairman and CEO of Arod cops, a company that includes ventures, partnerships, and real estate. He is also the chairman and co-founder of BRX Holdings and is currently an MLB analyst working for both ESPN and FOX. His net worth is around $350 million, making him the wealthiest baseball player by that a wide margin.

Tony Hawk

Anthony Hawk, also known as Tony Hawk or the birdman, is a guy who took his career from professional skateboarding to entrepreneur and philanthropist. After years of a successful career as a skateboarder, he opened his own skateboarding company known as Birdhouse. Staying at the top of his game as a skateboarder and maintaining an entrepreneurial career isn’t easy, so Tony made our list.

Tony Hawk also has a video game licensing series with Activision named after him. While Tony may be retired from professional skateboarding, he is still in business for the long haul.  He is also the founder of the Tony Hawk Foundation. He has a current net worth of 150 million dollars. Hawk has quite the entrepreneurial spirit.

Stephen Curry 

Stephen Curry is a professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors and is currently one of the best shooters in the game. He is well known for his three-point shooting ability and for winning championships. A lot of youngsters are following in his footsteps. Luckily, his footprints aren’t just in basketball sports; he is also a well-known businessman. He currently has a partnership with “Under Armor,” the footwear brand, and is the brand’s face. He also has an exclusive autograph deal with “Steiner Sports Memorabilia” which involves him signing several jerseys, basketballs, and other items.

He is also a leading ambassador at Palm, a mobile accessory company. He also owns considerable shares in Pinterest and Slyce and owns an online retail shop. He has a current net worth of 160 million dollars.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan Palmer was a quarterback for the Washington Redskins who was a backup. He also played for the Arizona Rattlers, Tennessee Titans, and the Chicago Bears. While he had an ok career, it didn’t stop him from starting businesses. He co-founded Rock Software back in 2007. Its goal was to help athletes and other celebrities build mobile apps. Jordan is a partner at Common Thread Collective, a leading online marketing agency. He also owns a football training camp. He is currently worth over 2 million dollars.

John Elway

John Elway is a former quarterback and currently a football executive and president of football operations for the Denver Broncos. He had an outstanding career playing football for 16 years, which included college football at Stanford, where he broke several records. He also won 2 Super Bowls with the Broncos.  He is also the co-owner of the Colorado Rush, which was an Arena football league team up till the cancellation of the league, but that didn’t stop Elway’s business ambitions. He went on to own four Steakhouse restaurants, each in his name.

He took his business ventures to a different level when he got a Cadillac franchise from Sonic Automobile in 2014. John Elway has indeed grown into one of the most successful entrepreneurial athletes of all time.

It’s refreshing to read about athlete entrepreneurs The one thing that they all have in common is that they have multiple streams. Whether it’s endorsements or side businesses, they have money coming to them in more than one way. That’s something that we all should strive for.

Did any of the athletes on this list surprise you? Do you know any other athlete entrepreneurs out there?

28 Comments

  1. Great list of athletes. I wasn’t surprised at all by the list. When I watched their interviews, they always seemed they were intelligent. To me, the fact that they have other streams of income is so smart. It’s one of my goals in life. I have relatives who relied only on one stream of income and when the person they relied on stopped working, they got into some real financial trouble. “Diversify, diversify, diversify” like my Investment professor would say. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Multiple streams of income is the only way.

  2. Jason, everyone of those athletes are good with their money. I think it sad to see a pro player waste away their money.

    The average NFL player career last 3.3 years, I have been told. I only hope Lynch saved his money.

  3. I guess you get so used to hearing about famous people’s bad money problems that you forget some are smart with their finances. I guess as always, it’s about diversifying.

    Although if Marshawn Lynch has all that money, why was he so worried about getting fined? 😛

    1. Good question about Marshawn. I guess he didn’t want to pay it 🙂 .

  4. This is great to see since so many athletes go broke within a short amount of time once their active career is over. It’s about time some of them get it together!

  5. Most of those people were in the world’s spotlight with many endorsements that catapulted their cash flow. I was more curious about the athletes who weren’t superstars and still were good with the multi millions they made playing.

    I also thought maybe there’s a difference between being good at earning money and being good with money. Some of these people just mainly endorsed products which only works if your already famous, others really did show they’re good with money when they go on to own restaurants and athletic teams. They all did reinvest on some level though which is always key.

    Jordan is worth over a billion now? damn. I also thought about Tiger Woods and the king of assholes: Lance Armstrong – I think he has antisocial disorder, psychotic.

  6. The unfortunate thing about athlete culture is that it’s always “surprising” to hear about an athlete who is good with their money. I like this list and it’s always good to read about success, but it’s too bad it’s not more of the norm. I would add Carson Palmer to the list. He had over $100M in the bank when he left the Bengals.

    1. I also wish it was the norm. I didn’t know Carson Palmer had that much saved.

      1. Yeah he threw a TON in the bank during his playing years, and I mean, why not? On a super small scale let’s say you were debt free and had a primary income plus a side hustle income. If you don’t need the side hustle income, why wouldn’t you throw 100% into savings/investments? It just makes sense and can vault you ahead financially. Some of these athletes do this on such a grand scale. It’s incredible.

  7. I’m not surprised that there are some athletes who do very well with their money, despite the few who we all hear about who aren’t responsible. I recently saw an article about one athlete who saved his entire salary throughout his career and lived off his endorsements instead.

  8. Always wonder if they are the ones who manage or is there a financial consultant behind. Good for them. I am a big fan of Michael Jordan and I see there Shaquille O’Neal too.

  9. I expected Venus and Serena to be listed as they have good grounding – an influence from their father perhaps. There are a few athletes on the list who I am unfamiliar with.

    Once athletes become ultra famous, they can then put their name against well known brands and make even more money.

    I should have pursued running as a teen………….

  10. Would also be interesting to see, but a lot harder to find, a list of second tier athletes who were successful with a shorter career as a more ordinary talent. I know of Ken Daneyko who was a hockey player with the Devils who now owns a fitness center in New Jersey. Another one of my favorites is Clyde Frazier the former Knick who has a Manhattan restaurant with half a basketball court on the premises.

    1. That would be an interesting topic. I may need to see if I can find some 2nd tier successes.

  11. Hi Jason, interesting to see who are the money-wise top athletes. I am curious and maybe you could help with an answer. Many wealthy people with celebrity status are philanthropists too. They consider themselves indeed fortunate, and they want to help others by setting up a foundation for youth or something else. Often a number of things. I don’t follow sports stars and really don’t know what these people do with their money as regards others. Might you be able to provide that information? Thanks so much.

    1. I know a few athletes do things around the holidays such as getting Christmas gifts for the kids and providing dinner for needy families. I’m not sure what some of the others do, though.

  12. It’s always good to see athletes being responsible with their income instead of it going to frivolous things like partying. I always thought as soon as a young athlete gets recruited, they should take ethics & morals classes and business management!

  13. I am not a huge sports fan so did not know all the names on the list, but was not surprised by the ones I did know. I wonder a few of the same things others have mentioned in comments – how much help did they have from financial advisors, how much do they share their wealth with those less fortunate, and how some of the second tier athletes have fared financially. The potential for high earnings for many athletes spans only a few years and they are faced with the challenge of stretching that across other years.

  14. Jason, this was an interesting read, something I never considered before. Good for the ones who were smart with their money – that could set an example for kids just as much as their talent.

    1. They should definitely set an example for the younger kids. They need it badly.

  15. Arnold palmer is certainly a golfer who has used his name and made it a brand and household name! His business earnings must surely eclipse his earnings from his golf career by far!

  16. Its really helpful to read this blog post .
    The potential for high earnings for many athletes spans only a few years and they are faced with the challenge of stretching that across other years.

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