Who are sports’ most successful entrepreneurs?

International | Sport

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To be a successful athlete you need to be self-motivated, competitive, optimistic and meticulous – all personality traits that are also needed to be a successful entrepreneur. It’s therefore no wonder that so many sports celebrities go on to become business tycoons once they have retired (or even while they are still competing).

Below are just some of the most successful athletes-turned-entrepreneurs and the business ventures that they have been involved in.

David Lloyd

David Lloyd is an athlete who’s brand has become more famous than his sports career.

Back in the 70s, he was a professional tennis player. At the peak of his sports career, he reached the semi-finals of the Wimbledon doubles in 1973.

When he retired in 1981, he decided to set up his own leisure centre. This soon evolved into a successful chain of leisure centres across the UK and Europe. David Lloyd has since sold the company and retired, however, the name lives on and there are currently 122 clubs across the continent.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant enjoyed a successful 20-year career playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired from the NBA in 2016, however even before his retirement from sports he was already pursuing business ventures on the side.

In 2013, he launched brand development company Kobe Inc to help aspiring athletes. Shortly after this, he helped launch an investment platform for startups with Bryant Stibel. On top of this, he established various philanthropic foundations including the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (helping young people to find sports mentorship) and the Soong Ching Ling Foundation (helping provide education to youth in China).

Were it not for his tragic untimely passing in 2020, he would no doubt have pursued many more business ventures.

Venus & Serana Williams

Venus and Serena Williams are both tennis legends. However, the two sisters are also successful business magnates.

Venus Williams is the owner of an interior design company VStarr interiors. She is also CEO of an athletic wear brand called EleVen.

Serena Williams meanwhile owns a clothing line S by Serena. She is also CEO of Serena Ventures, an investment company that helped launch 34 startups.

If this wasn’t impressive enough, they both also have part ownership of the Miami Dolphins and UFC.

Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk is arguably the most famous professional skateboarder ever. This is not just the result of his skateboarding career, but his many business ventures.

On top of founding Birdhouse Skateboards, he is the owner of his own line of Tony Hawk clothing apparel. He is also the founder of The Skatepark Project and has appeared in 900 films.

However, his most famous entrepreneurial achievement is the Tony Hawk video game series – since the release of the first game Pro Skater in 1999, it has become one of the most successful video game franchises of all time.

George Foreman

Professional boxer George Foreman is a two-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic Gold medallist – with a sports career spanning almost thirty years from 1969 to 1997.

He is also known for endorsing the George Foreman Grill – a series of electric grills that have gone on to shift 100 million units since their release in the 1990s. It is believed that George Foreman has made over $200 million from his endorsement. That’s more money than he made during his entire boxing career.

Alex Rodriguez

Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Since his retirement from sports, he has become involved in a number of other ventures including various TV media appearances.

Using his earnings as a baseball superstar, he also founded investment company A-Rod Corp in 1996. The company has invested in everything from real estate to green development. He was also an early investor in brands such as Vita Coco and Snapchat.

Magic Johnson

Basketball legend Magic Johnson enjoyed an impressive sports career back in the 1980s and is a two-time inductee into the basketball hall of fame. He also has one of the most impressive business track records of any athlete.

Since retiring from sport, Magic Johnson’s entrepreneurial endeavours include setting up a record label, setting up a TV cable network, launching a line of prepaid MasterCards, starting a chain of movie theatres and launching a contract food service. He has also partnered with many world-famous brands – including Starbucks.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has not yet retired from sports and already has many business achievements under his belt.

In 2006, he opened a fashion boutique under the name CR7. In 2011, he then launched an iPhone game Heads Up With Cristiano, followed by another app in 2013. He then partnered up with Eden Parfums to create his own fragrance Legacy in 2015. He is also one of the most highly paid social media personalities.

Ronaldo is also known for being one of the most charitable sportspeople, donating huge amounts to charities while also setting up several of his charity organisations.

Paul Rabil

Paul Rabil is a famous lacrosse player. Fed up with working part-time to support his passion, he set about creating the Premier Lacrosse League.

He single-handedly helped to grow lacrosse into a more serious sport in which players could become full-time athletes with decent wages. He has also got involved in media, investing in the Chernin Group.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is possibly one of the most successful human beings ever. His career began as a competitive bodybuilder, winning the title of Mr Universe at the age of 20. He has since gone on to become an iconic Hollywood actor, after which he then became governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

If this wasn’t impressive enough, Schwarzenegger also has a long career launching and partnering businesses. He started a bricklaying business back in 1968 while he was bodybuilding. He used profits from this to start a mail-order business selling fitness equipment and instructional tapes.

Later in his life, he went on to invest in real estate, while also investing in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain with Sylvester Stallone. Other business ventures include starting a restaurant in Santa Monica with his wife, launching a nutritional supplement brand with LeBron James, owning a movie production company and owning a fitness publishing company.

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