6 Black athletes now making it big as entrepreneurs after retiring

Abu Mubarik August 25, 2023
Michael Jordan. Photo: wikimedia commons/Bryan Horowitz

Sports athletes are one of the highest-earning people in the world. In contemporary times, they rank among some of the richest in the world. However, upon retirement, some of them easily slide into financial challenges due to their extravagant lifestyle. For black athletes in particular, the negative stories post-retirement far outweigh the positives.

In this write-up, we highlight the business ventures of some black athletes who have businesses and are making it big in retirement.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls and later for the Washington Wizards. He made a total of more than $90 million in earnings as a player salary. In 2014, Michael Jordan became the first athlete to become a billionaire – his massive net worth was largely influenced by his deal with Nike, which would later give birth to Air Jordan.

After retirement from the NBA, he became an entrepreneur with a number of businesses. Aside from being the face of Nike’s Air Jordan, he has shares in the Charlotte Bobcats (which he bought for roughly $175 million). He also has endorsement deals from Gatorade, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Rayovac and Hanes. He is a co-owner of the NASCAR team, 23XI, has a stake in sports betting company DraftKings, and owns a restaurant business and a tequila brand.

George Foreman

George Foreman is undoubtedly one of the best boxers the world has ever produced. For the duration of his professional boxing career, Foreman recorded 76 wins out of 81 fights. Unlike contemporary boxers who are profiting financially, Foreman only managed to accumulate a net worth of $5 million in the 1980s.

However, the two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist had a blissful retirement thanks to George Foreman Grills. He reportedly sold over 100 million grills worldwide, bringing him millions of dollars. What is more, he reportedly earned more money from the grills than he made in his boxing career.

He eventually sold the marketing rights for the grills in 1999 for $137 million and went on to launch his own clothing line.

Dave Bing

Born on November 24, 1943, David Bing is an American former professional basketball player, businessman, and politician who served as the 74th mayor of Detroit, Michigan from 2009 to 2014.

The seven-time all-star is named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players. He started with the Detroit Pistons, played two seasons for the Washington Bullets and ended his basketball career as a Boston Celtic.

After retiring from the NBA, he launched Big Steel in Detroit. His steel company brought in $61 million in annual sales within a decade. The company subsequently became the 10th largest African-American-owned industrial company in the nation. He also founded Superb Manufacturing, a $28 million-per-year metal stamping company.

Vinnie Johnson

Vinnie Johnson was nicknamed the “Microwave” during his active years because of his ability to heat up off the bench. He was first drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 and moved to the Detroit Pistons two seasons later. He won two championships with the Pistons and was the team’s longtime 6th option. For all his success on the court, Johnson amassed only $5 million in his 13-year career. However, what is unknown to many people is that he was an active investor, according to Basketball Network.

He founded Piston Automotive under Piston Group after he retired from the NBA and he has grown the business to become one of the largest auto parts suppliers in the United States. In 2019, Basketball Network reported that the company supplies all the big 3 in Detroit and known companies like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

The company recently secured a contract with General Motors to make cooling modules, front struts, center consoles, rear suspensions, headliners, and brake corners for the automaker’s Canyon and Colorado pickups.

With offices across America, Piston Automotive makes nearly $3 billion annually and employs over 200 people, Basketball Network reported. The platform reported that the NBA legend has an estimated net worth of $400 million following the success of his company and subsidiaries.

In November 2022, Johnson announced a $10 million project to establish operations at a new factory in Wentzville, Missouri and it is expected to create 204 jobs.

Chris Webber

Webber is a former professional basketball player, who released the rap album 2 Much Drama and also produced two tracks for Nas. He is a five-time NBA All-Star, a five-time All-NBA Team member, a former NBA Rookie of the Year, and a former number one overall NBA draftee. 

After retirement, Webber represents basketball and football players in investment companies, real estate and film projects. He owns the real estate company Maktub LLC, which primarily focuses on redevelopment efforts in Chicago.

He also opened his own restaurant in Sacramento, Calif., aptly named Center Court with C-Webb. He is also a music producer and is featured on numerous hip-hop tracks.

What is more, he had endorsement deals with Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Sony Playstation, ESPN the Magazine, Fila, Nike, Pepsi, Carl’s Jr., THQ Wireless and New Era.

The former NBA star also started Webber Wellness Compound, the parent company for his cannabis business, in 2015. In 2021, he announced the opening of a $175 million cannabis “compound” in his native city of Detroit. Webber Wellness Compound will include marijuana operations and a training facility, a cultivation facility, a dispensary and a cannabis consumption lounge, according to USA TODAY.

Shaquille O’Neal

Despite being one of the best players in NBA history, at the twilight of his professional career, he had his eyes fixed on his retirement. In his 19-year-old NBA career, he accrued wealth through contracts totaling $300 million. Now he makes millions of dollars per year thanks to his businesses and other endorsement deals with companies such as Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, Zales, and others.

One of his famous businesses is Big Chicken restaurant, which fuses his home-cooked childhood favorites with today’s trending flavors. Shaq opened his restaurant in Las Vegas in 2018 after retiring from the NBA and later expanded to a location in Glendale, California.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 25, 2023


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