10 Athletes Who Built Successful Businesses Outside Of Sports
These athletes created a business career as successful as their athletic one
In a sports-crazed world, athletes quickly become household names with their performance on the field, earning millions along the way. However, off the field, modern athletes have become savvy businessmen, putting their money to work as well. From building global brands to multimillion-dollar investment companies, here are 10 athletes who built major businesses off the field.
1. Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson: Magic Johnson Enterprises
One of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is also a great businessman. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of his investment conglomerate, Magic Johnson Enterprises. The company is valued at over $1 billion, according to The Sun. The company owns Magic Johnson Theaters, a movie studio, and a promotional marketing company. He also owned 125 Starbucks stores, which he sold in 2010 for $75 million as per Celebrity Net Worth.
2. Kobe Bryant: Granity Studios, Investments
Kobe Bryant was the founder of the multimedia production company, Granity Studios. The company released the short film “Dear Basketball”, which delivered an Academy Award for the basketball great just two years after he retired from the NBA. Further, Bryant reportedly made a $6 million investment in BodyArmor sports drinks which netted him $200 million over a few years as per Bleacher Report. Bryant tragically died along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in 2020.
3. Shaquille O’Neal: Franchises, Investments
Another NBA great, Shaquille O’Neal has built a massive business empire with savvy investments and franchises. He owned 10% of Five Guys’ entire franchise portfolio, which he eventually sold as per Mashed. He was also an early investor in Google and invested in Ring before its acquisition for $1 billion by Amazon. Further in 2022, it was announced that O’Neal would join the Board of Directors of Papa Johns and invest $840,000 to buy 30% of a 9-unit franchise of Papa Johns in Atlanta, as per Celebrity Net Worth.
4. George Foreman: George Foreman Grill
Former boxing heavyweight champion George Foreman is prominently known for his namesake grill outside the ring. According to Forbes, the George Foreman Grill has sold hundreds of millions of units and Foreman once told AARP that it earned him as much as $8 million a month. Foreman sold the marketing rights to his grills in 1999 for $137 million which is more than his career winnings, as per the New York Post. He also has a clothing line and a cleaning product line.
5. David Beckham: Beckham Holdings
In 2019, David Beckham and his wife, Victoria’s company Beckham Holdings was valued at $150 million as per Forbes. The company includes Victoria’s fashion wholesale, retail, and e-commerce business. Apart from that it also includes two licensing companies, a TV production company, and his own management company called DB Ventures. In the year 2022, Beckham reportedly agreed to sell the controlling share of DB Ventures, a 55% stake to Authentic Brands Group for a whopping $269 million as per Bloomberg.
6. Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson: The XFL, Teremana Tequila
Former WWE Wrestler, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has become a global superstar and is currently one of the highest-paid actors in the world. However, Johnson’s success off the screen and outside the ring is also remarkable. Johnson who is also a former football star at the University of Miami partnered with RedBird Capital to purchase The XFL, a professional American football minor league, for $15 million. He also founded Teremana Tequila, which is estimated to be valued at around $3.5 billion as per Essentially Sports.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo: CR7
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most popular athletes in the world with several brand endorsements under his belt. However, apart from endorsements and salary, Ronaldo’s fortune is aided by his brand CR7. The CR7 brand includes a line of footwear, underwear, denim, and fragrances and it has also collaborated with luxury watchmaker Jacob & Co to release two of Ronaldo’s personalized watches. His brand is also well-established in the hospitality sector with his Pestana CR7 Lifestyle Hotels chain.
8. LeBron James: SpringHill Entertainment, Uninterrupted, Ladder, Blaze Pizza
Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James earns plenty from his own companies apart from his hefty basketball salary which made him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Outside the court, James has a production company named SpringHill Company, and a media company named, Uninterrupted. Further, he is also a partner in the health and wellness company Ladder and the co-owner of 19 Blaze Pizza franchises. As per Forbes James has earned over $900 million from endorsements and business ventures.
9. Serena Williams: Serena Ventures, S by Serena Williams, Serena Williams Jewelry
Tennis legend Serena Williams retired in 2022, but she has had her income sorted out for years. She founded the investment firm Serena Ventures, to promote businesses run by women, people of color, and young entrepreneurs. Her company included over 30 firms with a total market capitalization of $12 billion, as per the company’s website. She also has several other ventures including a line of clothing and accessories, S by Serena Williams, and a namesake line of fine jewelry, which also add millions to her fortune.
10. Roger Staubach: The Staubach Company
One of the most famous and successful quarterbacks in the NFL, Roger Staubach has built a real estate empire outside the field. Staubach founded the Staubach Company in 1977 and by the year 2008, Staubach’s company had over 70 offices in North America and 1,600 employees. In the same year, he decided to sell his company to Chicago-based real-estate brokerage firm Jones Lang Lasalle for a whopping $613 million as per CNBC. However, Staubach reportedly continued with his real estate and property development endeavors.
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