Sports icons who thrived in business endeavours

When you have the capacity to earn millions by playing sports, it always makes good sense to think about investing in other activities, which is what many leading professional sporting icons have done with considerable success. Indeed, some have gone on to become wealthier from their business pursuits, than could ever have been possible from their athletic activities.

Barcelona star turned entrepreneur

Having enjoyed a hugely successful football career at Barcelona, married international music star Shakira, and turned his hand to several notable business ventures, it’s fair to say that life has been good to former Spain international Gerard Pique. The 34-year-old is now estimated to be earning more from his business interests, than from the sport he continues to play.

Pique is the is the president of Kosmos Holding, a sports and media investment group he co-founded with good friend Hiroshi Mikitani, who is also founder of Japanese e-commerce giants Rakuten. Through this media venture, Pique forged a $3 billion partnership with the International Tennis Federation, aimed at transforming the Davis Cup and aiding global tennis development. He then bought amajority stake in FC Andorra, a club which currently plays in the third tier of Spanish football.

Pique has also invested in blockchain technologies and virtual currencies, plus a stake in fantasy football platform Sorare backed by Ethereum. Aside from having made significant bets on digital and broadcast media investments, Pique is a keen poker player who actually finished second at the EPT Barcelona tournament in 2019, scooping up €352,950 in winnings.

Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Pique playing anonymously at online tournaments, including those featured in this guide for the best Bitcoin gambling sites, which covers licensed casinos boasting strong reputations and provably fair gaming. There are some bitcoin casinos that offer live dealer games and poker tables, bringing the thrill of a real casino to your desktop or mobile devices. Who knows, you might rub virtual shoulders with Pique one day.

NBA legend to investment king

When he rose to the peak of his fame and international stardom as a basketball player, Michael Jordan also broke the mould in terms of sporting endorsements. He went on to become the single most marketed sports figure in history, becoming the face of huge international brands including Nike and Coca-Cola.

Such was the demand for Jordan throughout his triumphant NBA career, Nike even created a signature shoe and then an entire range of products, named after the iconic basketball star. This was ground-breaking at the time, paving the way for athletes in other sports to seek similar deals, as they look to fully exploit image rights and sponsorship opportunities.

Just over a decade ago in 2010, Jordan was ranked by Forbes as the 20th most powerful celebrity in the world. By 2017 and according to estimations by the same publication, Jordan had also boasted the highest career earnings of any athlete in history. Boasting a net worth of more than $1.6 billion, Jordan is now the fifth-richest African American in the United States.

Jordan has always maintained a close personal contact with sports. He is currently majority shareholder and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise, part owner of the Miami Marlins MLB franchise, and joint-owner of the 23XI Racing team competing in the 2021 NASCAR season.

Quarterback targets fast-food empire

After 20 magnificent seasons as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, 42-year-old Drew Brees finally made the tough decision to retire from American football. Consistently one of the top earning players in the league, first with the San Diego Chargers, then with the New Orleans Saints, he amassed a fortune throughout an illustrious career.

Before he retired, Brees was already busy growing his wealth via endorsing top brands and products. In 2018 alone, he was estimated to have earned $18 million in endorsements, believed to be pocketing more than $13,000 for every sponsored tweet, having taken a keen interest in the power of social media platforms.

That said, not all his investments worked out as hoped. In 2018 Brees and his wife also paid $15 million for investment-grade diamonds, which an independent appraiser later valued at $6 million. He did manage to win an ensuing court case, recovering around $6 million. Thankfully, further business ventures appear to be working out much better.

Brees partnered with Brandon Landry in 2019 to launch a new Walk-On’s restaurant, with plans to open more. He has also invested heavily in a food delivery service called Waitr, along with purchasing stakes in established fast-food chains including Happy’s Irish Pub and Dunkin. He now plans to open around 70 more Dunkin branches around the United States.

Long-term strategy & wise investments

What each of these athletes have shown is there’s life beyond sports. In many cases, they have already begun investing in business ventures long before their careers even end, which makes good sense considering the wealth they have accumulated. Sporting careers often have relatively short lifespans, compared to other vocations, therefore the wisest athletes have always been one step ahead of the curve, when thinking about their long-term futures.

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