Going from having millions of fans worldwide watching your every move and genuinely being one of the best – if not the best – at what you do on the planet, to the realms of being mere mortal is a difficult transition. And it isn’t one that every sportsman is able to navigate successfully. Largely due to a combination of a startling lack of business acumen, poor decisions, lavish lifestyles and divorce (reputedly around the 80% mark for top US athletes), it doesn’t take long for one time heroes to become zeros – sometimes literally when it comes to finances.
In 2009, Sports Illustrated published a report highlighting just how bad this problem is. It found that an astonishing 78% of NFL players find themselves in “financial distress” within just 2 years of retiring. Around 60% of NBA players, who with an average salary of $5million is higher than every other sport, are bankrupt within 5 years of calling it a day on the court.
This isn’t always the case however, here are some examples where top sportsmen have gone on to build a successful – and occasionally surprising – career after retiring from their former profession.
1. Magic Johnson
One of the finest basketball players of all time, the point guard achieved practically everything there was to achieve in the game. During his 14-year career which included 2 comebacks, Johnson won 5 NBA titles, 3 Final MVPs, and 3 regular season MVPs, and even found the time for an Olympic gold medal. He still has the highest average assists per game in history – 11.2, and playoff assists – 12.3.
His career since retirement has been no less successful. Despite a less than auspicious start (his TV show was pulled after 2 months) Johnson found a taste for business and never looked back. He was one of those who invested in Starbucks before anyone had even heard of the now omnipresent coffee shop brand. His company – Magic Johnson Enterprises – has its fingers in many industries from banking to entertainment and has helped the former Laker star earn a reputed $500 million.
2. George Foreman
Foreman’s recent career has become so successful and high profile that anyone who can’t remember back to a time when everyone didn’t have a cell phone could be forgiven for thinking that this is what he has always done. The rest of us of course know that he was one of the most formidable and talented heavyweight boxers of all time. He will always have a place in boxing folklore due to his part in the Rumble in the Jungle – one the most famous and entertaining fights of all time, but his record stands up for itself: 81 fights, 76 wins, 68 of those by way of KO, and just 5 defeats. And don’t forget that most of those were during the golden era of heavyweight boxing.
When he came out of retirement at age 45 to knock Michael Moorer (then 27) out, he became the oldest heavyweight world champion in history. When he finally retired for good, he teamed up with Russell Hobbs Inc, and launched the George Foreman Fat Reducing Grill, which he had helped design. It was an instant success and has sold over 100 million units in less than 15 years. Though he has never disclosed how much he has made from the grill, it is believed at its peak the preacher was earning $4.5 million a month. In total, it is estimated he has earned in excess of $200 million from the endorsement. A lot more than he than he ever made in the ring, actually. Read the rest of this entry →