Photo Credit: Brad Penner \ USA TODAY Sports Images
The internet is littered with stories of professional athletes losing gads of money on shaky investments. Seasoned journalists refer to them as cautionary tales.
There athletes insist on breaking the Herm Edwards rule of One: One house, one car, one wife and/or girlfriend. The exception to the rule of one is buying your mother a house. That is a true gesture of love and thanks.
There are alarming statistics currently circulating the Internet about the financial trouble athletes face after leaving their sport. It is reported in several publications that 60% of NBA players are bankrupt within five years of leaving the league. 78% of NFL players will encounter financial trouble within two years of exiting the league.
What’s a player to do? The NFL and the NBA have career transition programs in place to help athletes move from adored to bored. The most popular routes to follow are to open a restaurant or a car dealership. Another popular avenue is purchasing a franchise. But like any other venture in life, success takes hard work and dedication.
Professional athletes seem to fall into two general categories once their careers conclude. The first group is looking for “easy money.” The money has always been there for them and firmly believe it always will be. These are the ones losing millions of dollars on bad investments thinking they are going to receive an unrealistic return on their money. Very quickly this group of athletes ends up in financial trouble.
The second category of athlete is hard working and laser focused. These guys and girls carry over their work ethic from their playing days to their post career endeavors. And many of the successful ones begin while they are still playing.
The following list celebrates the entrepreneurship of five athletes. These guys bucked the franchise purchase, the supposed easy money route and started businesses of their own. Read on to find out who these creative, MBA of the grid iron and basketball court players are.
5 Michael Vick and Bow Wow: Wave Masterz
Bow Wow AKA Lil Bow Wow AKA Shad Gregory Moss of BET’s 106 and Park and Michael Vick have teamed up to create Wave Masterz. The company, if it launches, will sell hair products: things like skullcaps, hair brushes and gel. The company website – www.wavemasterz.com - has a static home page that could indicate the business is still forming. Michael Vick is a free agent this off-season and is looking for a job. SBNation is reporting the 33-year old Vick is looking for a starting job, with the Jets and Buccaneers showing the most interest. After encountering severe financial troubles, Vick has climbed back to claim a net worth of $16 million.
4 Carmelo Anthony: hautetime.com
With Carmelo Anthony’s free agency quickly approaching this summer, Melo has some basketball decisions to make. Stay with the Knicks and likely sign a 5-year, $140 million contract. Sign elsewhere and likely sign a 4-year, $104 million deal. But Melo will turn 30 years old in May and has started exploring post basketball career options. One such venture is in the digital magazine business. Anthony is an investor in hautetime.com., a website dedicated to covering expensive watches. Melo posts a “Watch of the Day” picture that can generate 20,000 Likes on Facebook for the watch company. Carmelo is reportedly meeting with fashion industry people to perhaps be laying the groundwork for opening his own line of clothing. One can only hope his threads are as smooth as his stroke.
3 Tim Duncan: Blackjack Speed Shop
Much has been written about how Tim Duncan does not fit the mold of an NBA superstar, who, by the way, possesses four championship rings. He eschews entourages and the lavish lifestyle that has gotten so many athletes in financial trouble, though his home in San Antonio is anything but quaint. On the court Duncan is slow, if not methodical. Off the court the man likes speed. He is part owner of Blackjack Speed Shop in San Antonio. Head to the website: www.blackjackspeedshop.com and your are immediately serenaded by Aaron Lewis’s country song “75.” If I were playing the game show Password and the host told me the word is “country”, I’m not sure “NBA” would be my first clue word. According to the website, Blackjack Speed Shop is a “cutting edge vehicle customization shop.” The name Blacjack is a reference to Duncan’s jersey number 21, and the card game. Duncan’s personal choice of wheels: a highly customized GT-R Nissan.
2 Victor Cruz and Nate Collins: YoungWhales
Though Victor Cruz and Nate Collins are both in the prime of their respective NFL careers, the two are already looking to the future post football by creating YoungWhales, a trendy, hip clothing company. Established in 2010, the company sells graphic t-shirts, hoodies and flat brim caps. Young Whales is a reference to a high stakes casino gambler. Cruz and Collins started the company with initial investments of $5,000 each. All designs and business decisions go through the players. Some of the designs feature the letters U.F.A. that stands for Undrafted Free Agent, which of course Cruz was. Before the 2013 season. Cruz signed a 5-year, $43 million dollar extension with $15.6 million dollars guaranteed. Young Wales hopes to diversify their line by adding polos, sweaters and women’s clothing.
1 Jonathan Vilma: BarEye App
BarEye App is a shy, mate-seeking person’s dream. It essentially allows you to buy a drink for someone at a bar without having to talk to anyone! Not quite the plot of the Academy Award nominated movie “Her”, this app encourages social interaction through technology. After downloading the BarEye app for either the iPhone or Android, you can buy yourself, Facebook friends or other BarEye members a drink. A bar must obtain a tablet from Vilma’s company. When a customer walks into a bar, he or she “checks in” by swiping their phone on the tablet. The bar, for good or for ill, is now yours. See that hottie down at the end of the bar that keeps ignoring your best attempt to make eye contact? See if she is checked in. If she is, buy her a drink via your smart phone. Know it is a friend’s birthday and she is out celebrating in another city? Using BarEye you can buy her drink and even include a personal message.
As of mid 2013, the free app has been downloaded over 10,000 times. After testing the technology in 17 bars in Tallahassee, FL, Vilma and his business partner Andrew Bennett created a business model that offers franchises the opportunity to purchase and market the product. A franchise can be purchased for $2,500, providing the franchisee exclusivity in a particular geographic area. Revenues will be split between the franchise, the bar and BarEye. BarEye is currently rolling out in Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.
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