6 Pro Athletes Who Became Entrepreneurs
Many popular athletes rightly believe that their main occupation will not feed them for the rest of their lives and that they need to open their own business for further development. And in business, as in sport, persistence, excitement, and the ability to self-control and self-organization are necessary. That is why many professional athletes have become successful entrepreneurs.
Wayne Gretzky (hockey)
The former center is one of the most famous athletes of the 20th century and the best hockey player of all time. With the Edmonton Oilers, he won the Stanley Cup four times. Gretzky holds 61 NHL records. He has won numerous individual League awards (including 9 Most Valuable Player and 10 Top Scorer of the season).
In 1993, during a career that ended in 1999, Gretzky opened his restaurant in Toronto. The kitchen is geared towards fans who want to eat burgers, ribs, chicken wings and wash it down with delicious beer and wine from Gretzky’s factory.
Wayne launched a wine business in 2006. The products of his plant are famous for their quality not only in Canada but throughout the world. The cheapest bottle of Gretzky wine costs $14, and the most expensive one costs $99 (a hockey player’s game number).
Wayne also has his clothing line. The Wayne Gretzky brand principle is that classic clothing and items should be made of expensive fabrics.
Alex Rodriguez (baseball)
Alex Rodriguez is considered one of the most successful professional baseball players in the history of the sport. He became the youngest player to hit 500 home runs. In 2009, Rodriguez became the winner of the World Series. He participated in the Major League Baseball All-Star 14 times. He has many awards, including the Silver Slugger Award, the Hank Aaron Award, and the Gold Glove Award.
Rodriguez retired in 2016 and opened a sports club under the UFC GYM franchise in 2017. The establishment started working in Kendall. At the same time, the former baseball player received the right to develop the franchise throughout Miami-Dade County. He is also a sports consultant.
But Rodriguez’s more serious profit comes from business in another area. Back in 1996, the baseball player founded the holding company A-Rod Corp, which is now an investor in some technology, real estate, health, and entertainment corporations.
In 2008, Alex Rodriguez became the founder of the development company Newport Property Construction, and in 2012 he opened Monument Capital Management. According to some agencies, by 2019 this firm managed to acquire real estate (more than 15,000 apartments) with a total value of $700 million.
David Villa (soccer)
David Villa has played in Spanish clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona during his football career. Villa became the top scorer in the history of the Spanish national team (59 goals), surpassing the record of the legendary Raul.
In 2014, Villa moved to the MLS New York City club, for which he played until 2018. In 2019, David became the owner of Queensboro FC, which will soon begin playing in the USL.
Villa is now developing soccer in the States by opening academies and sports schools that teach the principles of Spanish soccer. The footballer is the owner of a sports marketing agency as well as a creative studio.
He recently launched David Villa Pro Soccer for smartphones. Using it, gamers will be able to feel like Villa himself: train, play for the best soccer clubs in the world, visit different countries and do much more to improve game performance and achieve success.
Michael Jordan (basketball)
According to many basketball fans, Michael Jordan is the greatest to ever step on the court. He is a six-time NBA champion, two-time Olympic champion, five-time MVP of the season, and 14-time All-Star. Jordan became a living symbol of basketball and the embodiment of victories for a whole decade and revolutionized the NBA.
In his entire sports career, Michael earned less than $100 million. But after “retirement” he managed to increase his fortune tenfold and become one of the richest athletes in the world according to Forbes.
The fact is that in 1984, Jordan signed an advertising contract with Nike. The company designed the Air Jordan sneaker specifically for the basketball player. The project became so successful that it became a standalone brand that now generates Nike $3 billion in revenue. Company founder Phil Knight described signing Jordan as the best decision in his life.
In 2010, Michael became the owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball club, purchasing it for $275 million. Before Jordan, none of the former NBA players became the owner of a league club. Now the value of Charlotte Hornets is estimated at more than a billion, and Michael owns 90% of the shares.
David Beckham (soccer)
David Beckham was one of the world’s most successful footballers. He has played for such clubs as Manchester United, Real Madrid, PSG, and Los Angeles Galaxy. Also, David played for the England national team, and in 2011 was named the highest-paid soccer player in the world.
In 2013, Beckham announced his retirement from the big sport. Now David has his own business, thanks to which he can develop in several directions at once.
One of them is fashion. Beckham already has dozens of advertising campaigns, as well as a collaboration with H&M. Besides, Beckham bought out Kent & Curwen and is now the face of the brand and personally designs the collections.
Together with L’Oréal, Beckham has created his own cosmetics brand, which offers 13 products. These include a moisturizer, scrub, and tattoo care gel.
David also owns the Inter Miami football club, which has been playing in the MLS since 2023. The matches of this league are popular among sports betting fans. You can bet on MLS games at one of the bookmakers from the Meta.reviews rating.
Maria Sharapova (tennis)
The Russian tennis player shone on the court during the years of her sports career. Maria is a former first racket of the world, winner of five Grand Slam singles in 2004-2014. She is one of ten women in history who have a Career Slam (won all Grand Slam tournaments but in different years).
For eleven years – from 2004 to 2015 – Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete in the world according to Forbes. In total, Sharapova’s career, according to Forbes, earned $325 million, with only $38 million in prize money, the rest was brought by sponsorship contracts. The business magazine wrote that Maria is known in the market for her serious and responsible approach to relations with brands.
The athlete ended her career not so long ago and is now engaged in entrepreneurship. Back in 2012, Sharapova invested about $500,000 in the premium candy brand Sugarpova. Sweets are available in 15 varieties, each with its taste and shape from tennis balls and shoes to hearts, stars, and sharks. In the US, Sugarpova is sold in large chains such as 7-Eleven and Kroger. The brand’s revenue in 2019 was $20 million.