7 Professional Athletes Who Became Successful Entrepreneurs

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To succeed at the highest level of their sport, athletes must train regularly, push themselves to be among the very best in their field, and never accept less than the very best from themselves. While many athletes push themselves to excel on the field or court, many others push even farther and excel in all aspects of their lives.

These 7 athletes were not satisfied with being among the best in their sport; they went on to become highly successful entrepreneurs as well.

1. Maria Sharapova

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova became the world Number 1 for the first time when she was just 18 years old, in 2005. She has a number of endorsements and has appeared as the face of fashion houses and in television advertisements.

She also loves sweets, and when she decided to expand into the world of entrepreneurship, she decided to make her own candy line, called Sugarpova. A portion of the sales proceeds go to her charity. In 2016, the company expanded to partner with a chocolatier and has also started to create lifestyle products.

2. David Beckham

David Beckham had a two-decade career in football, playing in four countries and being named in a movie title (Bend it like Beckham). As an entrepreneur, he has several high profile endorsements, is a UNICEF UK ambassador, and is considered one of the most marketable footballers in the history of the professional sport. In 2013, he was the highest paid footballer in the world.

Through Major League Soccer (MLS) Beckham, along with a group of investors, are said to be creating an expansion team based in Miami, Florida. He is also married to Victoria Adams, now Beckham, who is perhaps better known to the world as Posh Spice of the Spice Girls.

3. Josh Cartu

Josh Cartu is well known on racing circuits in Europe and the United States as a racecar driver, and entrepreneur. His company, Sandstorm Holdings, works within the iGaming industry to research and develop new social and mobile gaming technologies, as well as improve business design in this and other divisions.

Cartu regularly participates in race rallies, and is on the Briggs Automotive Company advisory board.

4. Lewis Howes

At this point, Lewis Howes might be better known for his entrepreneurial work than for his athletic career. After an impressive NCAA career, where he held the record for most receiving yards in a single game, he snapped his wrist during a game playing Arena football, and went on to have a career-ending surgery.

He has founded several impressive businesses, however, including SportsNetworker, Sports Executive Association, and Inspired Marketing, all of which have had impressive results in their respective niches.

5. Roger Staubach

Former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach started with the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 and played American football for 11 seasons. He started building his real estate company in 1977 because he was concerned about what would happen to his family if he was badly injured playing the game. The Staubach Company started with office buildings, then later bought out another company and focused on corporate clients who wanted to rent or lease office space. The company was eventually sold for more than $600 million.

6. George Foreman

George Foreman is well known for his boxing titles, as well as his promotional work for the George Foreman Grill, an electronic countertop grill that earned him over $130 million in naming rights.

He is also believed to have earned a percentage of the profits on units sold. From that, Foreman has gone on to endorse InventHelp, an invention trade show.

7. John Elway

While John Elway is well known for his years as a quarterback, it is his work as the general manager of the Denver Broncos, and as vice president of football operations for the National Football League that gets him modern attention. Elway has also owned Arena Teams, a chain of steakhouse restaurants that bear his name, and has owned a series of auto dealerships that were sold to AutoNation in 1997.

All too often, athletes get a reputation for not being good at business. Certainly, some athletes seem to spend their money too fast, get into trouble with legal authorities, and struggle to maintain a sensible lifestyle.

But many more professional athletes invest their money carefully, maintain endorsements and grow businesses, and show the rest of us that just because they play a game for a career doesn’t mean they don’t know how to build a business.


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