Winning Off The Field: 10 Athletes Who Amassed More Success After Retirement

When considering some of your favorite sports athletes, with all the fanfare and accolades they receive, it’s easy to be convinced that they’re at the top of their game, and life simply doesn’t get any better. There’s no denying, though, that they receive a pretty penny for their athletic contribution. But for as much as $90 million annual pay seems to us common folk, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for some professional athletes who amassed even more success after retirement. Some have gone on to run their own international athletic shoe and clothing lines, while others have showcased their acting skills on the Hollywood screen. Some have done both! Let’s find out a bit more.

10 Magic Johnson

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Born Earvin Johnson, he was given the nickname ‘Magic’ after a sportswriter had watched the 15-year old star rack up 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists while attending Everett High School. He was drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers in the late 1970s, where he played for 13 seasons, winning the NBA Finals MVP Awards in the process. Then in 1991, he retired for the first time after revealing that he contracted HIV. He returned and retired for the final time in 1996 but then began his incredible business ventures, starting with the Magic Johnson Empires. This business venture morphed into various health clubs, movie theatres, real estate, and TGI. Fridays now hold a net worth of over $1 billion. He also bought a 5% share in the Lakers which he sold in 2010 for close to $60 million, as well as a $2 million investment in the Los Angeles Lakers.

9 Shaquille O’ Neal

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If the name ‘Shaq’ doesn’t precede his reputation, then probably his colossal 7-foot frame will make it impossible to miss him. Born Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, he entered the NBA in 1992 after being drafted to play for the Orlando Magic, where he earned Rookie of The Year from 1992-1993 (supposing his height had nothing to do with it). He also played for the LA Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics before retiring in 2011. He made $292 million during his basketball career and nearly quadrupled that after his retirement. The basketball legend has stakes in Google, Apple, Krispy Kreme, Papa John’s, Ring, and Carnival Cruises. Today, his net worth is over $400 million.

8 Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

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If you’ve been a wrestling fan for any amount of time, especially between the 1990s and early 2000s, then you’ve heard about The Rock. Before following in the footsteps of his father as a professional wrestler, he aspired to become play in the NFL but wasn’t drafted. He then went on to become recognized as one of the world’s greatest wrestlers during his time with the WWF, which later became the WWE, between 1996-2004. Upon retirement, he parlayed into acting and producing. Keeping his professional wrestling name, The Rock, he made a statement with movies like The Mummy, The Scorpion King, The Game Plan, and Be Cool alongside John Travolta. The latter part of his acting career saw him in film bangers like the Fast and The Furious Seven, Ballers, Central Intelligence, Jumanji, Hercules. and Hobbs and Shaw with Jason Statham.

7 Tony Hawk

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This skateboarder is nicknamed the Birdman, and if you knew how much air he was caught, you would understand why. But Tony Hawk isn’t only elevating off the skateboard. He’s also listed as one of the most successful skateboarding athletes whose impact affects not only skateboarding but also other sports. He began skateboarding at the age of eight, and by fourteen years old, he turned professional. In the 1980s and 1990s, Tony Hawk dominated the sport and became the National Skateboard Association world champion for twelve years in a row. He launched his own clothing line called Hawk Clothing in 1998 and in the same year released a game series with Activision called Tony Hawk Pro Skater. In addition, he also launched a traveling sports show in 2002 called Boom Boom HuckJam. Today, Tony Hawk’s net worth is estimated at $150 million.

6 Arnold Palmer

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Arnold Palmer must have been an exceptional golfer to be nicknamed ‘The King’ in a sport that doesn’t seem as exciting as your average adrenaline-pumping competition. The late Palmer died in 2016 after retiring from the sport in 2006. Although he hadn’t won a major championship since 1964, he still managed to be ranked as one of the world’s highest-paid retired athletes before his death at 87. His contribution to the sport of golf was so impactful that the PGA Tour’s statement following his death stated, “There would be no Golf Channel without Arnold Palmer.” Annually, he was earning $40 million through commercial endorsements, clothing, cars, golf events, and beverages. During his lifetime, he was placed in the same bracket with Michael Jordan and David Beckham, who also acquired massive success after retirement.

5 George Foreman

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Like any great success story, the come-up is what is most inspiring. The ability to come out on top despite the obstacles placed in your way is what people feed on for motivation, and George Foreman’s story is just that. He began as a high school dropout, but after discovering his gift in boxing, he went on to become a heavyweight champion. The two-time Heavyweight World Champion saw his career slow down after losing to Muhammad Ali, but that wasn’t the end for him. He was approached to do infomercials for a kitchen appliance company named Salton that eventually led to commercials for McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Doritos. He also had a grill named after him called The George Foreman Grill and was paid $137.5 million for the use of his name.

4 Charles Barkley

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Throughout his career, Charles Barkley has been recognized for his exceptional performance, which led him to be chosen as NBA All-Star eleven times on separate occasions, as well as the NBA MVP in 1993. His professional career began in 1984 when he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Subsequently, he transferred to the Phoenix Suns as well as the Houston Rockets. But even after his retirement in 1999, Barkley didn’t hit a financial brick wall like most other athletes who retire from professional sports. An accumulation of endorsements with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Right Guard, T-Mobile, and his sneaker deal with Nike put Barkley’s net worth at $40 million after not dribbling a ball since retirement.

3 Arnold Schwarzenegger

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While bodybuilding isn’t exactly considered a sport, it’s still a form of physical exercise that is recognized as a legitimate career that rewards its champions with a lavish paycheck. One person who can attest to that is the former professional bodybuilder and two-term California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Austrian-born superstar became the youngest Mr. Universe champion at the age of 20. Then at age 23, he set a record as the youngest Mr. Olympia winner, which hasn’t been beaten to this day. He went on to win the Mr. Olympia title six times consecutively before retiring in 1980. He also had a hand in real estate and currently has a portfolio of over $100 million in commercial properties. Having starred in movies like Terminator, Terminator 2, Commando, Predator, and Total Recall, to name a few, his total earnings as an actor would be $400 million.

RELATED: Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Diverse Ways He’s Earned His Fortune

2 David Beckham

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Known as ‘Goldenballs’ during his football glory days, David Beckham retired in 2013 at the age of 38 after a 20-year successful football career. During his time at Manchester United, he earned a whopping 100,000 pounds (USD $136,050.00) per week or 4,800,000 pounds per year. However, despite his retirement, Beckham still manages to rake in upward of 40 million euros a year, placing him only second to Michael Jordan as one of the most successful post-retirement athletes. He is able to keep up these earnings as a result of many lucrative endorsements with companies like Kent and Curwen, Adidas, H&M, and Breitling Watches. In 2020, Beckham signed a three-year deal with EA Sports with 40 million pounds for a new gaming series named ‘FIFA 21 Beckham Edition’, making him the star cover of the Standard Edition.

1 Michael Jordan

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When the ‘Jump Man’ Michael Jordan officially retired from the NBA in 1999, his annual salary was $90 million, a dazzling price tag for running to and fro on a court and shooting a ball through a hoop. But it appears that MJ didn’t need the NBA as much as it needed him. The financial wizard went on to star in movies, launch his Air Jordan athlete shoe and clothing brand with Nike, purchase at least four multi-million dollar homes (two of which are up for sale), and as of 2021, his own Nascar team. He also owns a restaurant chain named Michael Jordan Steakhouse and holds the position of the world’s most successful retired athlete with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

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Source: Daily Mail, Money, Sports Casting

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