The lifestyles of professional athletes have always been well-documented. From the entourages to the six-figure cars, there aren’t many luxuries that multi-millionaire sports figures don’t treat themselves to when times are good. On that note, we’ve all (likely) heard a horror story or two about professional athletes burning through the millions of dollars they earned during their playing days and ending up retired and broke. What gets far less publicity (and wrongfully so) are the successful business ventures of some of the most recognizable professional athletes in the world.
While several athletes have successfully ventured into the world of franchising, there are other jocks that have built massively prosperous businesses on their own. Here is a look at five highly recognizable athletes who fit this mold.
Derek Jeter made more than enough money — about $265 million — during his legendary playing career to retire comfortably and set his family up for generations. That hasn’t stopped the New York Yankees legend from successfully venturing into the world of business, though.
Most of Jeter’s time these days is being spent in his role as CEO and part owner of the Miami Marlins. Prior to that, he founded The Player’s Tribune, a digital media platform that allows professional athletes to tell their stories and make major announcements such as retirements and free agency decisions.
TPT opened in October 2014, and was backed by $58 million investors. The company is inching towards profitability and remains in growth mode. After focusing solely on branded content since opening, TPT is now shifting their focus towards video content, which is highly profitable when done correctly.
Alex Rodriguez retired from Major League Baseball with a whopping $445 million in career earnings (not counting endorsements). In 2003, while still in the midst of his historic career, Rodriguez launched A-Rod Corp. His company, in their own words, “identifies, originates and manages investments across a broad array of industries, including real estate, sports and wellness, media, and entertainment.”
Some of the more successful ventures of A-Rod Corp include Monument Capital Management, which has acquired over $400 million of real estate assets across 11 states; UFC branded fitness centers; TruFusion, a group fitness and yoga concept franchise; and Newport Property Construction, a highly-successful real estate development and construction firm.
John Elway now spends his days running the football operations for the Denver Broncos, the same franchise he led to two Super Bowl titles during his Hall of Fame playing career. And he is really, really good at it. He landed arguably the best free agent in NFL history (Peyton Manning), and he built teams that would go on to win five division titles, two AFC titles, and one Super Bowl title.
In his time between retiring as a player and becoming an NFL general manager, Elway was a highly successful businessman. He has opened three massively successful steakhouses bearing his name (two in Denver and one at Denver International Airport); he was part-owner of the Colorado Crush until the Arena Football League shut down operations in 2002; and he opened multiple car dealerships in both Colorado and California (five of which he sold to AutoNation for $82.5 million in 1997).
Venus Williams will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time tennis greats. She is also on track to go down as one of the most successful athlete-entrepreneurs in recent history as well.
In her business endeavors, Williams has opened (and been been heavily involved in all aspects of) EleVen, a performance/athleisure clothing company for women; V-Starr Interiors, an interior design company that has served clients such as former NFL player Bryant McKinnie and talk show host Tavis Smiley; and the Yetunde Price Resource Center, a non-profit organization in Compton, Calif. that is “dedicated to fostering social change.”
Magic Johnson is now the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Before stepping into that role, the iconic NBA legend made a name for himself as an extremely successful businessman.
He is the founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, an investment firm that is worth an estimated $100 billion. Johnson’s also a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Sparks and the Los Angeles Football Club — and he is an advisor to multiple successful companies all around the country.
Lead image via Getty