What athletes had the most off-field success?

Although much of the focus among sports betting fans these days is on the latest NFL odds and who is likely to win this season’s championship games, arguably the most compelling parts of professional sports is the business behind the industry.

While many athletes pursue a wide range of business ventures throughout their careers, many more wait until they are freshly retired to throw themselves into these new and exciting enterprises. In many respects, professional athletes — whether former or current — are primed for business success. The combination of a strong work ethic, entrepreneurial flare, and intelligence that makes them so successful as athletes appear to allow them to reap benefits in the business world.

Of the many well-known athletic famous people who have used their sporting achievements to develop a business career, who has been the most successful?

David Beckham

In the world of professional athletes with successful off-field business careers, there are arguably few who have experienced the same level of success that David Beckham has.

Despite now commanding a business empire that is, according to the latest estimates, worth a staggering £380m, Beckham had a relatively humble start to life.

Fortunately for Beckham, his athletic gifts were recognized at an early age, and the Manchester United youth development squads drafted him as a teenager.

From there, his trajectory was only ever upwards. In a long-running career, Beckham won Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and La Liga Championship, in addition to having a successful international career.

Off the field, Beckham’s business ventures are incredibly varied and span multiple industries, sectors, and continents. This has led to him producing clothing lines, running high-profile charitable organizations, and sporting franchises, and having a highly successful modelling career.

Shaquille O’Neal

Although in his retirement years, O’Neal has crafted a media personality that gives off a relatively easy-going, comedic vibe. Behind the scenes, the former NBA star is an incredibly astute businessman.

Throughout his glittering playing career, O’Neal was known to be an intelligent businessman. However, it was when he eventually retired that this side of his personality really came into its own.

Of the many different business ventures he has invested in, O’Neal has only ever poured money into those enterprises he believes in and fully understands. This strategy has paid off. Some of his most lucrative deals include owning and selling 10% of Five Guys’ entire franchise portfolio, being an early investor in Google, and investing in Ring before Amazon scooped it up for an estimated $1bn.

O’Neal is also a committed philanthropist and has launched numerous charitable ventures.

Michael Jordan

In addition to being one of the greatest athletic talents the NBA has ever produced, Michael Jordan is also an incredibly astute businessman.

Perhaps most famously, Michael Jordan has a long-standing partnership with Nike through his famous footwear range. This relationship has personally earned Michael Jordan a fortune and has helped Nike to sell multiple billions worth of shoes over the last three-plus decades.

According to recent estimates, Michael Jordan is worth around $1.7bn, which makes him the richest former professional athlete in the world.

Tony Hawk

Although a quintessential Californian laid-back charm exemplifies Tony Hawk’s demeanor, this easy-going West Coast personality belies his business acumen.

In the world of professional skateboarding, there are few figures that have had as big an impact on the sport as Tony Hawk has. However, his impact in competitions went hand-in-hand with his skills as a businessman.

As the President of Tony Hawk Inc, Hawk has had a successful career investing in and producing a wide range of commercial products, including merchandising, events, endorsements, film, and digital media. Arguably, his most lucrative pursuit was the much-loved and bestselling eponymous video game series, which spawned 20 titles and sold millions of copies.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather is, without question, one of the most successful professional boxers in history. In addition to having a spotless professional record of 50 wins and zero losses, Mayweather was the most lucrative pay-per-view attraction of all time.

Mayweather’s fights generated an estimated 24 million PPV buys and $1.67bn in revenue during his career. This is set against estimated all-time career earnings of $1.2bn (adjusted for inflation).

Mayweather’s business ventures are wide and varied and include a NASCAR Cup Series Team, boxing gyms, a sporting promotions company, and a property portfolio.

According to recent estimates, Mayweather is worth around $450m, although how long this can keep up with the extreme rate at which he appears to spend cash remains to be seen!