If the recent history of sports in America has taught us anything, it’s that athletes can make exponentially more away from their chosen playing surface than they can on it.
For as good as these men (and they’re all men in this list) were in their chosen sports, they’ve been equally accomplished in their post-playing careers. Although they have taken different paths to the summit of great financial gains, the men in this list have all gotten paid in spades.
Keep reading to see our breakdown of 10 athletes who have continued to do great things since hanging up their literal or figurative cleats.
11. Jim Brown – Net Worth: $50 Million
Arguably the greatest football player of all time, Jim Brown said goodbye to the game after nine seasons in order to pursue acting.
Brown was the highest-paid player in the NFL when he retired, pulling down $60,000 per season when he decided to walk away. To appear in films, such as The Dirty Dozen.
Now, some 50 years later, No. 32 is worth an estimated $50 million thanks to a variety of endeavors. However, he’s likely more proud of his Amer-I-Can program, which mentors at-risk youth.
10. Nolan Ryan – Net Worth: $60 Million
The Ryan Express, in addition to being the best strikeout pitcher of all time, was one of baseball’s most enduring hurlers, playing in the majors for an incredible 27 years.
For as much coin as he collected inside the lines, Ryan has done even better for himself since leaving the game.
The former Texas Ranger is now a part owner of the club he once pitched for. He earned enough money through his ownership of a minor league team, endorsements, and other business activities to join a group of investors to purchase the Rangers. The Refugio, Texas native served as the team’s President from 2008 to 2013. Not bad for a guy who made his bones tossing a ball.
T8. Hakeem Olajuwon – Net Worth: $200 Million
The Dream earned an estimated $107 million on the court, but since retiring, he’s earned more than $100 million flipping real estate in the Houston area.
Olajuwon minimizes risk by purchasing real estate with cash only. It’s against Islamic law to charge or pay interest, so he never relies on outside financing or loans. It’s a practice that has proven profitable for the former Houston Rocket.
T8. Gary Player – Net Worth: $200 Million
The Black Knight, golf’s first global superstar, is still going strong at 78 years of age. His golf course design firm has completed more than 300 projects to date.
Here’s a striking fact: When Gary Player was 77, he made more in that year than he did in his entire PGA and Champions Tour careers combined. Player makes more than $8 million per year from corporate sponsorship alone, and complements his design business with a variety of real estate ventures.
7. George Foreman – Net Worth: $250 Million
If you’re under a certain age, “George Foreman” is a grill to you, rather than one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
This speaks to the success of Foreman as a pitch man for the Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. Reportedly, the boxer earns as much as 40% of the profits from each grill sold. Thus, it’s estimated the power puncher has raked in more than $200 million from sales of the grill alone. Add to this his work for Meineke and his commentary for HBO and it’s not hard to see how Goerge Foreman’s net worth has moved past the $250 million mark.
6. Jack Nicklaus – Net Worth: $280 Million
Jack Nicklaus is a major player in golf course design. In addition, he hosts the Memorial Tournament at his golf course (Muirfield Village) every year.
The 18-time major winner also has an equipment and apparel company, lends his name to a variety of products, and has written several books, all of which put money in his pocket.
5. Magic Johnson – Net Worth: $500 Million
One of the most gifted players in NBA history, Magic Johnson originally signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers. After restructuring later in his career, Johnson’s total NBA earnings stand at more than $45 million. But that’s nothing compared to the money he’s made since stepping off the court.
From urban revitalization, to investments, to buying teams, Johnson has done it all in retirement. His company, Magic Johnson Enterprises is now a billion-dollar empire. It’s reported that Magic paid $10 million to buy 4.5% of the Lakers, which he sold in 2010 for a reported $50-60 million. That’s a pretty good return and part of the reason Magic Johnson is worth a reported $500 million.
4. Roger Staubach – Net Worth: $600 Million
Roger Staubach’s post-football earnings have come primarily from the sale of his commercial real estate business. Staubach began working in real estate offices during his playing career in order to learn the business, eventually partnering up, and finally selling the business for a big bundle of cash.
3. Michael Jordan – Net Worth: $650 Million
The quintessential corporate athlete, Michael Jordan has made some serious coin since he stopped lacing up the shoes that carry his name.
Jordan earned nearly $100 million during his playing days with the Bulls and then the Wizards. He’s stumped for the following brands during his career: Nike, Gatorade, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Hanes, and MCI.
Jordan set the mark for athlete shoe deals with his 1984 agreement with Nike. The company agreed to pay him $500,000 per year for five years. In addition, Jordan received Nike stock options, which bumped his total compensation up to to $7 million over five years.
Since then, MJ has purchased the Charlotte Bobcats in addition to continuing a variety of business ventures that have bolstered his net worth to a staggering $650 million.
2. Arnold Palmer – Net Worth: $675 Million
Through his partnership with Mark McCormack, Arnold Palmer became, in some ways, the first corporate athlete.
Palmer had a hand in the founding of the Golf Channel and his firm was the first American company to build a course in China. Since then, Palmer and company have designed more than 200 courses worldwide. In addition, he hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill every year.
And of course Palmer makes money from the half lemonade-half iced tea concoction that bears his name through the product Arizona distributes.
1. Michael Schumacher – Net Worth: $800 Million
Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is worth an estimated $800 million. The seven-time Formula One Championship winner has been paid ludicrous sums for endorsements. Reportedly, Shell paid him $10 million per year just to wear a hat with their logo on it.
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