Talent, dedication, hard work and a little bit of luck are required to make it in both business and professional sports — and more than a few ambitious players have tried their hands at both.
From boxers and hockey players to skateboarders and footballers, plenty of pros have moved beyond common athlete endorsements and launched second careers in business after their playing days concluded. Click through to see which stars pursued big bucks in business.
Oscar De La Hoya
Type of business: Boxing management
In 2002, boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions, which the company’s website claims was the country’s first Hispanic-owned national boxing promotional company. Golden Boy, which parrots De La Hoya’s boxing nickname, promotes fights that air on networks like HBO and Showtime.
De La Hoya was the highest-paid athlete in boxing when he hung up his gloves, according to the Los Angeles Times. Forbes estimates he earned $510 million over the course of his career. He has a net worth of $200 million.
Type of business: Skateboard equipment and video games
Known as The Birdman, Tony Hawk is history’s most famous skateboarder. Hawk turned pro at the age of 14, and many considered him the world’s greatest competitive skateboarder by the age of 16.
He founded the successful Birdhouse skateboard company and then struck gold in 1999 when he partnered with Activision to create the “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” video game franchise. The new game series got the ultimate advertisement when Hawk shocked the world by becoming the first skater to land a 900 at the 1999 X Games — his last event before retirement. The franchise has now passed more than $1.4 billion in sales, and Hawk has a net worth of $140 million.
Type of business: In-home grills
George Foreman had a storied boxing career: He won an Olympic gold medal in 1968, knocked out Joe Frazier for his first heavyweight championship belt in 1973 and squared off against Muhammad Ali in the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. But despite all of his accomplishments in the ring, he’s probably best known today for little electric grills.
CNBC considers Foreman’s endorsement of what was the Salton electric grill to be one of history’s greatest sports endorsement deals, second only to Michael Jordan’s contract with Nike. Foreman, after initially rejecting the idea of having his own product, signed a deal that gave him 45 percent of all profits from what eventually became the George Foreman Grill. Foreman’s net worth now sits at a cool $300 million.
Type of business: Real estate
Roger Staubach holds the distinction of being one of just four football players ever to win both a Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award. Even though he was a quarterback, the legendary Dallas Cowboy remains the franchise’s No. 13 all-time leader in rushing touchdowns.
Staubach founded his first real estate company in 1977 when he was still two years away from retirement. By the time he sold the company for $613 million in 2008, the firm employed 1,800 people in 68 offices, according to The Wall Street Journal. Staubach has a net worth of $600 million and is considered one of the richest athletes of all time.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Type of business: Sports entertainment
Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. played 2,632 games in a row without missing a single game. In today’s league, where a few hundred consecutive games played would be a league-leading streak, Ripken’s standard is widely considered to be among the handful of records that will never be broken.
The Hall of Famer garnered a number of accolades during his 21-year playing career, winning two American League MVPs, appearing in 19 consecutive All-Star games and claiming one World Series title. Sports Illustrated estimates he made $70 million during his playing career.
Ripken’s post-MLB career has been nearly as successful. He parlayed his earnings into a successful sports entertainment company called Ripken Baseball, which owns and operates multiple Minor League Baseball teams and two youth athletic facilities. To top it all off, he’s also a broadcaster, has a six-book deal with Disney and sits on the board of ZeniMax Media, a video game company. His net worth is $75 million.
Type of business: Winery owner
In most sports, fans can argue about who holds the title of the greatest player ever — but in hockey, there is Wayne Gretzky and then everybody else.
When he left the NHL in 1999, Gretzky — who has a net worth of $200 million — took more than 60 records with him, including most points, most goals, most assists, most goals in a season and fewest games needed to score 50 goals (39).
After his career, “The Great One” launched Wayne Gretzky Estates, a successful winery and distillery that, according to Forbes, is booming. He sells approximately 65,000 cases in a good year. With other endorsements ranging from TD Bank and Samsung, he remains one of the world’s most-endorsed athletes.
Type of business: Landscape architecture and design — and Broadway
Four-time Pro Bowler and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George rushed for 10,441 yards over the course of his nine-year NFL career.
After retiring from the league, George went back to school and finished his degree before opening a landscape architecture and design firm called Edge. He also did some broadcasting work and opened several restaurants. But he found his true second calling in 2016 when he made his on-stage debut as Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of “Chicago.” His net worth is $2 million.
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Type of business: Women’s fashion and philanthropy
Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi took home a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. Off the ice, however, she launched a purpose-driven fashion brand called Tsu.ya.
A portion of the profits from the apparel and accessories brand goes to Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation, which promotes childhood literacy and education. With a net worth of $8 million, she is one of the world’s richest female athletes.
Type of business: Venture capital
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016, after spending his entire 20-year career with the club and leaving as the No. 3 scorer in league history.
In 2016, Forbes named him one of the richest entrepreneurs under 40. He earned a staggering $680 million in salary and endorsements during his playing career. He later joined another entrepreneur in launching Bryant Stibel, a successful venture capital firm that has already invested in more than a dozen successful startups, including Legal Zoom and Alibaba Group. Bryant has a net worth of $350 million.
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Type of business: Life coach
Marques Harris muscled his way onto the Chargers during his 2005 rookie year, and he played in a total of 60 games for the club before retiring in 2009.
He went on to found L.E.A.P., which stands for Life Empowerment and Purpose. The organization pairs certified life coaches with student and professional athletes, couples, business leaders and entrepreneurs. His net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Pizza chains
Unlike so many of his peers, longtime Indianapolis Colts quarterback and NFL great Peyton Manning went out on top, retiring just a month after winning his second Super Bowl.
When you count endorsements, Manning earned $400 million over the course of his career. He holds some of the league’s most coveted records, including most passing yards, most passing touchdowns and most game-winning drives. Manning is also the only player to win five league MVPs.
As one of the most marketable athletes in sports history, Manning enjoys lucrative ongoing corporate sponsorship deals with companies like DirecTV, Nationwide Insurance and Gatorade. He’s also the owner of 32 Papa John’s Pizza shops in the Denver area. With a net worth of $200 million, you could easily argue Manning is one of the best former NFL players when it comes to money.
Type of business: Residential and commercial remodeling — and event planning
Former NFL tight end Daniel Wilcox scored eight touchdowns over the course of his five-season career with the Baltimore Ravens, which ended in 2008. Soon after in 2009, he launched a residential remodeling company called Mr. 83 Degreez Renovations and Designs.
Along with his wife, he also launched an event planning and design company in 2010. In 2015, however, he was hired as a broadcaster for college football games at his alma mater, Appalachian State. His net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Cupcakes and shipping
Former linebacker Rosevelt Colvin won two Super Bowls throughout his decade-long NFL career, which included runs with both the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.
When he retired in 2008, Colvin became a franchisee and opened two UPS stores. In 2009, he — along with his wife and mother-in-law — opened a cupcake shop called SweeTies Gourmet Treats in Indianapolis, and it features several football-themed desserts. Colvin’s net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Computers
Known during his NFL years as the “Kansas Comet,” Gale Sayers is a Bears icon who will be remembered as one of the greatest players in NFL history. The Hall of Fame running back went to four Pro Bowls and ran for nearly 5,000 yards over his 68-game career.
In 1984, at the dawn of the personal computer era, Sayers founded Crest Computer Supply Company, which did $55.2 million in sales a decade later, according to ESPN. He has a net worth of $50 million.
Type of business: Car dealerships
Known for wacky, zany car commercials that have lampooned presidents, governors and fellow NFL stars, Brad Benson is one of the biggest car dealers in North Jersey — and he built his business from near-scratch.
After being cut by the Patriots during his first season in 1977, the left tackle was picked up by the Giants, and he was a key player during the team’s Super Bowl victory in 1986. He played just one more season, and in 1987, he purchased the land that would become his first car dealership. His net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Self-help and media
Lewis Howes played one season of professional arena football before an injury ended his career. He went on to become an author, a successful podcaster, investor, speaker and what Forbes calls a “serial entrepreneur.” He was even recognized by then-President Barack Obama as a top young entrepreneur in 2013, and he holds the NCAA Division III record for most receiving yards in a single game.
He calls himself a “lifestyle entrepreneur” and “high-performance business coach.” But Howes’ true business model is helping other companies learn how to earn passive income, and offering success strategies for aspiring entrepreneurs. He has a net worth of $10 million.
Type of business: Private equity and philanthropy
NBA Hall of Famer, Olympic gold medalist and Naval Academy graduate David Robinson is a household name to anyone who follows basketball.
Since retiring in 2003, Robinson has dedicated much of his efforts to community service. He founded The Carver Academy (TCA) in San Antonio, a city to which he’s donated more than $10 million.
He’s also been extremely successful in business. Robinson sat on the board of USAA Federal Savings Bank and currently is a board member of a major national food services provider. He — along with a friend and TCA board member — founded Admiral Capital Group, a firm dedicated to social improvement that manages more than $250 million in real estate, Robinson stated in a Forbes interview. Robinson has a net worth of $200 million.
Type of business: Supplements
Brad Pyatt spent four seasons in the NFL with the Colts, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, but he’ll be remembered as one of the founders of supplement giant MusclePharm, which he helped create in 2008 after he retired.
Pyatt quickly grew the business into one of the world’s leading supplement companies. But in 2016, he resigned as CEO after federal regulators launched an investigation into the company’s finances. His net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Banking and insurance
Ion Tiriac, who an Australian news organization called “the billionaire athlete you’ve never heard of,” is a Romanian tycoon and former professional tennis player and Olympic ice hockey player. His wealth comes from wildly successful ventures into real estate, banking, insurance and oil. He is one of the richest athletes of all time with a net worth of $1.26 billion, according to Forbes.
Type of business: Racing team and league owner
Legendary Irish race car driver Eddie Jordan won the Formula Atlantic Championship as a driver with Marlboro, and then went on to appear in races in Formula 3 and Formula 2 before testing a Formula 1 car in the 1970s.
He set up his own racing team, which went on to win several championships in the 1980s. In 1990, he founded the Jordan Grand Prix and entered the Formula 1 circuit. In 2005, he sold Jordan Grand Prix and has since embarked on several other business ventures. He has a net worth of $475 million.
Type of business: Conglomerate
If golf legend Greg Norman isn’t the sport’s most successful player-turned-entrepreneur, he’s certainly in the running.
With a net worth of $300 million, Norman won more than 90 tournaments in his playing days, including 20 PGA Tour events. He was ranked the No. 1 player in the world for a whopping 331 weeks in a row.
He went on to establish the Greg Norman Company, which is a multinational corporation that deals in everything from apparel and consumer products to asset-based lending and golf course design. Retired since 2012, his business ventures earn him $16 million a year.
Type of business: Tech, real estate, gyms and fast-food restaurants
Standing 7’1″ and weighing 325 pounds, the man they call “Shaq” was a giant among giants during his NBA playing days. The Lakers great was named to 14 All-NBA teams, won four championships and was crowned Finals MVP three times.
O’Neal earned more than $292 million over the course of his 19-year career and went on to become a broadcaster, actor, media personality and celebrity spokesman. He owns more than 150 Five Guys restaurants — a full 10 percent of the fast-food chain’s franchises — and 40 24 Hour Fitness gyms, along with some other interesting splurges.
He also formed the O’Neal Group real estate investment firm and is a successful tech investor. In fact, he was an early investor in Google, claiming a stake in the search giant before the company even went public. O’Neal has a net worth of $400 million.
Type of business: Winery founder and philanthropist
Mirror Napa Valley winery opened in 2008 and has gone on to produce 10 vintages of the brand’s trademark Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, along with five other specialty wines. All of this is the brainchild of Rick Mirer, who had a promising rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks but ultimately disappointed in Chicago after the Bears bet big on him as their franchise quarterback.
Mirer also founded a children’s health and education charity. His net worth is unknown.
Type of business: Soccer team owner
One of the most famous names in soccer, David Beckham had a remarkable 21-year career that included 10 league titles. After shocking the world by moving from Real Madrid to the Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham now appears poised to make a more permanent mark on American soccer.
After retiring in 2013, Beckham immediately began amassing worldwide sponsorships and campaigning for a Major League Soccer team in Miami. In 2017, The New York Times reported that the man the publication calls “perhaps the world’s most glamorous former soccer player” now faces little opposition in that goal — and will likely soon be approved for MLS expansion to Miami.
Beckham has a net worth of $450 million, as does his wife, Victoria Beckham.
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Type of business: Conglomerate
In the world of pro basketball, few names ring louder than Earvin “Magic” Johnson. A member of the original 1992 Olympic Dream Team, Johnson led the Lakers to five championships before abruptly retiring for the first time in 1991.
He proved in the ensuing years that his business acumen matched his basketball prowess. He is the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which he founded in 1987 when he was still playing ball. It’s now a billion-dollar global conglomerate with interests as varied as a television network, a youth academic program and healthcare service for HIV/AIDS patients.
Johnson also was the owner of 105 Starbucks locations and part of the Lakers, both of which he ended up selling for a reported $100 million before he purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers with investment firm Guggenheim Partners. In February 2017, Johnson decided to take a front office job with the Lakers as the president of basketball operations. He has a net worth of $600 million.
Type of business: Real estate and restaurants
Chris Webber was the first college sophomore since Magic Johnson to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. When he re-signed with the Sacramento Kings in 2001 for $123 million, he became the second highest-paid player in NBA history at that time.
After retirement, he co-founded Maktub LLC, a development firm focused on projects in Chicago and Detroit. He later partnered with an entertainment firm to open six restaurants. Webber has a net worth of $80 million.
Type of business: Automotive parts
When he was playing for the Detroit Pistons, Vinnie Johnson was called “The Microwave” because he could heat up the offense as soon as he left the bench. A star sixth man during his time with the franchise, Johnson helped the Pistons win championships in both 1989 and 1990.
After retirement, he formed Piston Group LLC, which recently spent $175 million to acquire an automotive parts supplier. This positions Johnson’s firm to become a true global player. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Piston Group is expected to do more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2018. He has a net worth of $1.5 million.
Type of business: Automotive business owner and mayor of Detroit
After revitalizing Syracuse basketball with a standout NCAA career in the 1960s, the Pistons drafted Bing second overall in 1966. As one of the top shooting guards in the game, he pulled the Pistons out of the basement. And after 12 highly decorated seasons, he retired and bought a small automotive supply business in 1980.
Bing grew the business from four employees to 1,300 — a $61 million firm that was the No. 10 largest minority-owned business in the country. In 2009, he sold the business and became the mayor of Detroit. He has a net worth of $5 million.
Type of business: Car dealerships
If there were a Mount Rushmore for NFL quarterbacks, John Elway’s face would likely be on it. The Denver Broncos superstar threw for 300 touchdowns and 51,475 yards over 16 seasons, engineered 47 fourth-quarter comebacks and went to nine Pro Bowls.
Elway passed on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy a 20 percent stake in the Broncos for just $36 million after he retired — a stake that would now be worth $388 million, according to Forbes. But Elway isn’t crying.
Aside from his position as the Broncos general manager, Elway launched a string of car dealerships that Forbes said have earned Elway “a small fortune.” He has a net worth of $145 million.
Type of business: Athletic apparel and NBA team owner (and a globally iconic brand)
Michael Jordan is arguably — or perhaps, certainly — the greatest basketball player of all time. He played on six championship teams, was a five-time MVP and six-time Finals MVP. After retirement, however, the Chicago Bulls legend dominated even more with his eponymous athletic apparel and footwear brand.
With a net worth of $1.39 billion, according to Forbes, Jordan is one of the few athletes in the three-comma club, even though his career earnings were puny compared to today’s ballers. Launched as part of a lifelong partnership with Nike, Air Jordans are now some of the world’s most popular shoes. The line generates $3 billion a year in annual revenue for Nike.
All net worth figures are according to CelebrityNetWorth.com unless otherwise noted.