Former athletes and their successful business stories

If we think about it very carefully, there are many similarities between the world of business and sports, since both of them require great team working skills, they challenge your own mental limits, and of course, they demand a lot from you in order to succeed. However, many stories about professional athletes going to bankruptcy make us also think on the difficulties of making a successful career in business after years of expensive lifestyles and clumsy investments. Normally, if athletes decide to start their own business, they take the route of franchising and many of them become really successful. On the other hand, it is not as common that retired athletes start their own business from zero. Let´s have a look at six stories of success in business further than franchising.

1.  MusclePharm Corporation – Brad Pyatt

In his NFL career, shortened to 4 years after related sport injuries, Brad Pyatt played for the Indianapolis Colts, Saint Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. Pyatt felt those injuries were related directly to the kind of supplements he was taking, so he decided to team up with Cory Gregory to start MusclePharm in 2008. The company claims to make “the most scientifically advanced, safest nutritional and sports supplementation products as possible”. MusclePharm is publicly traded, with Net revenues of $34 million in the third quarter 2015. Pyatt successfully converted his company into one of the most important players in the sports nutritional supplement game.

2. Maria Sharapova – Sugarpova

Sugarpova is the premium candy brand Maria Sharapova created in 2012 with an initial investment of half a million dollars. Since the famous tennis player arrived in the U.S. in the nineties, a sweet was the best reward for her after the exhausting tennis practises. Candies were very close to her feelings, so she decided to create Sugarpova. In the first year of the brand, the return of investment was more than 120%. Sales of Sugarpova in 2015 were near $7 million.  

3.  Rick Mirer – Mirror Wine Company

The former quarterback Rick Mirer played in the NFL for almost ten years for the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Oakland Raiders. Four years after his retirement he joined veteran winemaker Rob Lawson to create a company in the Napa Valley, California. When Mirer played for the Oakland Raiders, he had the experience of a training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott, and completely fell in love with the valley and its wine. The company’s premium collection at Mirror Wine Company has grown from a humble brand to an established business.

4. David Beckham – General Business

David Beckham is a model, a talking head, an entrepreneur, but before all that, he was a famous midfielder for many top soccer teams in the world, including Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain. Moreover, his relationship and marriage to the famous Victoria from the “Spice Girls”, contributed even more to David’s charismatic figure. Beckham soccer and business career talks about a hardworking and strategic thinker that built almost everything in a time without much social networks. The English figure money comes from commercial endorsements such as H&M, Sainsbury’s, Samsung, Adidas, Coty, and many others. Beckham also has a contractual right to buy a MLS professional soccer team to be based in Miami. The estimated family wealth is more than $675 million dollars.     

5. Cal Ripken, Jr. – Baseball Affiliate Manager

One of the best players in the MLB, Calvin Ripken, known as the “Iron Man”, played 21 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, won two Golden Glove Awards and twice named American League Most Valuable Player and holding the record for consecutive games played, 2,632 from 1982 to 1998. As famous as him is his brand Ripken Baseball Incorporated, which oversees two minor league teams (Charlotte Stone Crabs and San Francisco Giants), two youth baseball academies and also have a stadium design corporation. Ripken also holds a position as spokesperson for Holiday Inn, Chevrolet, State Farm and Energizer. Ripken projects generate $30 million a year and his foundation annual budget is $14 million.  

Cal Ripken Jr_careers for post athletes_jason hanold

Image courtesy of David at

6. Tony Hawk – Birdhouse Skateboards

Skateboarding, the multimillion dollar industry we know today on ESPN’s annual X Games, a sport among possible Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with global competitions from Asia to Australia, could be summarized in the history of one man, Tony Hawk, the legendary professional skater. Hawk is famous for completing the first documented 900, his licensed video games and his company Birdhouse. Tony Hawk created his professional skateboarding company that is famous for its quality skateboards as well as for its apparel. Sponsoring the best riders is the company’s track record, as well as the very visible clothing brand which is sold even in Walmart. Tony Hawk works also for his own foundation focusing on building skate parks in poor areas. Hawk’s branded product sales are around $200 million annually.