Mo Money? No Problem. 8 Athletes Who Made Their Fortunes After Retirement




Professional athletes lose their money at an alarming rate. According to Sports Illustrated, 60% of NBA players and 78% of NFL players file bankruptcy within five years of retirement.

While the majority of ex athletes are financially stressed after retirement, there are also the chosen few who make more money after retirement; proving that’s it's never too late to start your own business.  Here are some of my favorite stories:

1.     George Foreman: If you were born in the 80s, you probably know George Foreman as the “grill guy” instead of the heavy weight champion of the world. In the mid-1980s Foreman partnered with Russell Hobbs, Inc. to produce the fat-reducing George Foreman grills, which have since sold over 100 million units.

According to Wikipedia, Foreman was paid $137 million in 1999 in order to buy out the right to use his name.  Previous to that he was being paid about 40% of the profits on each grill sold (earning him $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak), so it is estimated he has made a total of over $200 million from the endorsement, a sum that is substantially more than he earned as a boxer.


2.     John Madden:  After retiring as a Super Bowl winning coach at the end of 1970s he began to work as a sports commentator.  His unique style immediately won the hearts of football fans everywhere and also earned him fourteen Emmy awards.  At the peak of his broadcasting he was making $5m per year. 

But the majority of his fortune came from the video game, Madden Football, which debuted in 1988 and grew in popularity every year, selling over 100m copies.  In 2005, EA Sports paid Madden $150m to use his name and likeness in perpetuity.


 3.     Michael Jordan: Even after his retirement, Jordan still dominates the sports world.  According to Bleacher Report, the former Chicago Bull has made more money selling his signature Nike sneakers than he did during his entire NBA career.  In 2014, the businessman made $100 million dollars from his Air Jordan brand — he only raked in $94 million during his 15-year-career.

According to Forbes annual list of the world’s richest people, Michael is now a billionaire.  It was Jordan's ownership of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team that catapulted him into the billionaire's ranks; NBA teams values soared after Steve Balmer paid $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.


4.     Magic Johnson: Most people remember Magic for his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers and for his AIDS charity work, but he’s proven he’s also a shrewd businessman. 

Shortly after retirement he formed Magic Johnson Enterprises, which owned a diverse investment portfolio, including a marketing company, a movie theatre chain and a chain of Starbucks, which he sold for $75 million in 2010. He was also a part owner of the Lakers for several years. Today, Magic Johnson is one of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Sparks owners.


5.     The Rock: In 1997, the former Miami Dolphin, Dwayne Johnson started his second career as a WWE wrestler:  adopting the name The Rock and creating a villainous persona, which earned him a massive following and nine world heavyweight champions for the WWE.

The Rock began his acting career in 2001 in the film Scorpion King and continued with dramatic and comedy roles, recently appearing in the successful HBO comedy series, Ballers. In September 2012, Celebrity Net Worth named The Rock the richest wrestler of all time.  Not bad for a washed up football player.


6.     Herchel Walker:  The Hall of Fame running back started his chicken processing plant, Renaissance Man, in 2000 after Walker had a casual conversation with a Sysco Corp. executive who asked him for some chicken recipes.  Renaissance Man, based in Savannah, GA, now has more than 100 employees and posted sales of $70 million in 2008.  Walker is the sole owner of Renaissance Man and has invested about $25 million from his own pocket into the business.



7.     Roger Staubach: The Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories, turned to real estate after retiring. He worked for real estate titan Henry Miller Jr. for six years, before starting his own commercial real estate firm, The Staubach Company, which he eventually sold for $613 million in 2008.



8.     Vinnie Johnson: After retirement from the NBA, the former Detroit Piston founded Piston Automotive in 1995, which specializes in “sequenced and non-sequenced sub-assembled components and complex modular assemblies” like chassis, power train, and cooling systems. Today, the Detroit company partners with Ford and GM, with reported 2012 earnings of almost $570

Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurial athletes? What athlete surprised you when they went broke?


InspirationTom Ward