Athletes With Major Business Empires Outside of Sports

Being a professional athlete can easily make you a millionaire, but these sports stars have expanded their wealth by turning those team paychecks into veritable empires. See how these players have been making bank outside of the sports world.

Last updated: June 19, 2020

1. Shaquille O’Neal

Former NBA pro Shaquille O’Neal has invested his money in companies he believes in — and it’s ended up paying off for him. O’Neal formerly owned 10% of Five Guys’ entire franchise portfolio and eventually sold it, telling CNBC that the burger business was “very good” to him. He was also an early investor in Google and invested in Ring before it was acquired by Amazon for $1 billion.

2. Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson

  • Magic Johnson Enterprises

NBA great Earvin “Magic” Johnson is the chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises, an investment conglomerate valued at an estimated $1 billion, according to the company’s website. He also formerly owned 125 Starbucks stores, which he has since sold.

3. George Foreman

Former boxer George Foreman has gotten rich from his namesake grill. Hundreds of millions of units have been sold since it was introduced in 1994, Forbes reported, and Foreman told AARP that the grill has earned him as much as $8 million a month.

4. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan has had a long-standing partnership with Nike — and it’s been incredibly lucrative. By 1986, Nike had sold $100 million worth of Jordan shoes and clothing, and in 1997, the Jordan franchise was spun off as its own brand, Quartz reported. In December 2019, Nike CEO Mark Parker announced that Jordan Brand had surpassed another milestone, with its first $1 billion quarter.

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5. Alex Rodriguez

World Series champion Alex Rodriguez founded A-Rod Corp as a real estate investment firm back in 2003. It has since expanded into real estate development, as well as investing in other assets across industries, including sports and wellness, media and entertainment. A-Rod Corp is now a fully integrated investment firm with over 500 employees.

6. Tony Hawk

Pro skateboarder Tony Hawk is now the president of Tony Hawk Inc., a brand umbrella that includes action-sports video games, merchandising, events, endorsements, and film and digital media.

7. Jordan Palmer

  • Rock Software, Common Thread Collective

NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer has founded a number of businesses. In 2007, he co-founded Rock Software, which built mobile apps for athletes and celebrities. He is now a partner at the online marketing agency Common Thread Collective, whose clients include DIFF Charitable Eyewear and TheraGun. Within the sports realm, Palmer is the founder of the quarterback training camp QB Summit.

8. Wladimir Klitschko

Heavyweight champion professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko now oversees a number of companies under the Klitschko umbrella, including Klitschko Ventures, the Klitschko Museum, K2 Promotions, Eleven Mirrors Design Hotel and Klitschko Management Group.

Living Well in Retirement: Maria Sharapova and 43 More Incredibly Rich Retired Athletes

9. John Elway

  • Elway’s steakhouses, John Elway Dealers

Former football player John Elway is now the president of football operations and general manager of the Denver Broncos, and he also is a successful entrepreneur off the field. He is the co-owner of Elway’s steakhouses, which has four locations, as well as several John Elway car dealerships — John Elway Cadillac of Park Meadows; John Elway Chevrolet in Englewood, Colorado; and John Elway Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Claremont, California.

10. Steve Weatherford

Super Bowl-winning NFL punter Steve Weatherford has created his own fitness empire under the Weatherford Fit umbrella. This includes a supplement line called Veritas, e-books and online training programs. He also has his own self-improvement podcast, “The Steve Weatherford Show: The Secrets To A High Performance Life.”

11. Rob Dyrdek

  • Superjacket, Dyrdek Machine

Pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek has built a number of companies over the years, both inside and outside the realm of skateboarding. Outside of the sport, he launched the production company Superjacket, which created the show “Ridiculousness.” He also developed the full-service venture studio, Dyrdek Machine, which helps other entrepreneurs build their brands.

12. Roger Staubach

One of the Dallas Cowboys’ most well-known quarterbacks, Roger Staubach has built a veritable real estate empire. By 2008, his real estate firm had 50 offices in North America and 1,100 employees, Forbes reported. In order to expand the firm globally, Staubach sold Staubach Co. to real estate firm Jones Lang Lasalle for a multiyear payout that totaled $640 million. But he’s not out of the real estate game yet — in 2019, he partnered with the Cowboys to build a luxury apartment high rise next to the team’s world headquarters and practice facility in Frisco, Texas.

Find Out Who: Today’s Richest Athletes in the World

13. Venus Williams

  • EleVen by Venus Williams, V Starr

Tennis pro Venus Williams is the founder of several companies — EleVen by Venus Williams, which includes a line of activewear and sunscreen, and V Starr, an interior design company.

14. Serena Williams

  • Serena Ventures, S by Serena Williams, Serena Williams Jewelry

Tennis great Serena Williams founded the investment firm Serena Ventures in 2014 to give opportunities to diverse founders. It now has a $12 billion market cap, according to the company’s website. Williams also has a line of clothing and accessories, S by Serena Williams, and a namesake line of fine jewelry.

15. LeBron James

  • SpringHill Entertainment, Uninterrupted, Ladder, Blaze Pizza

Four-time MVP LeBron James is not only the highest-endorsed NBA player of 2020, according to Forbes, but he’s also generating plenty of money with his own companies. James has a production company, SpringHill Entertainment; a media company, Uninterrupted; and is a partner in the health and wellness company Ladder. He is also the co-owner of 19 Blaze Pizza franchises in Chicago and South Florida and is an investor in the pizza chain.

16. Kevin Durant

Ten-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant is the co-founder and president of Thirty Five Ventures. The umbrella company incorporates a number of business entities, including Durant’s personal brand and marketing portfolio, an investment portfolio, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation and a multichannel sports business network, The Boardroom, distributed in partnership with ESPN.

Read More: How Dwyane Wade, Rob Gronkowski and Peyton Manning Make Millions in Retirement

17. Stephen Curry

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry formed SC30 in 2017 to manage his investments, brand partnerships and philanthropic ventures. He also has a production company, Unanimous Media, which has a development deal with Sony Pictures, Forbes reported.

18. Maria Sharapova

Tennis pro Maria Sharapova has her own line of luxury candies, Sugarpova, and is a co-owner of the sunscreen brand Supergoop.

19. Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees owns multiple Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’ franchises, and is also an investor in the food delivery service Waitr, Forbes reported.

20. Tom Brady

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady has a wide-ranging health and wellness brand, TB12. The brand includes a line of athletic apparel, protein bars and snacks, supplements, electrolytes, workout equipment and recovery tools. Brady also launched his own production company, 199 Productions, to develop documentaries, feature films and TV shows.

See: Richest Athletes From Every Decade

21. Cristiano Ronaldo

In addition to the multimillions Cristiano Ronaldo makes from his salary and endorsement deals, the soccer star adds to his fortune with his own company, CR7. The CR7 brand includes a line of footwear, underwear, denim and fragrances.

22. Paul Rabil

  • Rabil Companies, Rabil Ventures

In addition to co-founding the Premier Lacrosse League, which was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Company in Sports by Fast Company, Paul Rabil has found entrepreneurial success outside of the sports world. The Rabil Companies portfolio includes the “Suiting Up” podcast, the Paul Rabil Experience, the Rabil Tour, Project 9 Events and the Rabil Collection. He is also a partner in the venture firm Rabil Ventures.

23. David Beckham

David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, have built brands worth millions — $150 million to be exact, Forbes reported in May 2019. Beckham Holdings includes Victoria’s fashion wholesale, retail and e-commerce business; two licensing companies; a TV production company; and a property holding company.

24. Ulysses ‘Junior’ Bridgeman

  • Bridgeman Hospitality Group

Former Milwaukee Buck Ulysses ‘Junior’ Bridgeman turned his attention to the restaurant franchise business after retiring from the NBA. He is now the president and CEO of Bridgeman Foods, which owns 360 restaurants across 16 states, according to the company’s website. The company also provides food services for corporations, colleges and universities, sports facilities and more.

25. Grant Hill

  • Hill Ventures, Penta Capital

NBA star Grant Hill established the marketing and management company Hill Ventures, Inc. back in 1994. In addition to managing and maintaining his marketing and promotional activities, the umbrella company now oversees his expansive real estate portfolio and personal art collection tour. Hill also has a production company and is the founder of the private equity mezzanine fund Penta Capital.

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