These athletes are more than just some of the best and most successful players in their respective sports; they are thriving businesspeople and investors as well. These are twelve of the most famous athlete-investors today.

Key Takeaways

  • Of the twelve athletes on the list, six are current or former basketball players.
  • Technology, real estate, and restaurants are some of the most popular types of investment among these athletes.
  • Michael Jordan is the richest athlete on this list with a net worth of over a billion dollars.

Kobe Bryant

Before his untimely death in early 2020, Bryant was notable for being perhaps the most active and successful athlete-investor. In 2013, Bryant co-founded the investment firm Bryant Stibel. The firm has invested in companies like Dell, Fortnite developer Epic Games, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Bryant himself invested $6 million in BodyArmor, the sports drink company and Gatorade competitor. His stake is now worth upwards of $200 million. 

Bryant also founded a media company, Granity Studios, which helped produce Bryant’s award-winning short film “Dear Basketball.” Bryant’s earnings from investing added to his already-massive earnings from his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lebron James

James is, for many, the most recognizable face in basketball and professional sports. In addition to his accomplishments on the court, James has built a business and investment empire. With a current net worth of more than $480 million, James has turned his salary and endorsements to business pursuits as well. The most well known of James’ investments is Blaze Pizza, of which he owns 19 franchises. His initial investment of $1 million has grown to over $25 million. James also held a lucrative stake in headphones company Beats Electronics before the company was bought for $3 billion by Apple.

James owns the digital media company Uninterrupted and the production company SpringHill Entertainment. As a partner of Fenway Sports Group, James also owns a small share of soccer club and English Premier League winners Liverpool FC.

Shaquille O’Neal

The legendary-center-turned-investor has owned a variety of business holdings throughout his playing career and into retirement. His self-professed best investment is Google, which he first bought a stake of in 1999. He was also an early investor in Apple. O’Neal has invested in numerous restaurant chains, including Krispy Kreme, Papa John’s, Auntie Anne’s, and Five Guys. He even owns a burger restaurant in Los Angeles named “Shaquille’s.”

Besides restaurants, O’Neal has invested in car washes and 24-hour gyms; he reportedly owns 40 gyms and 150 car washes. After seeing the product in action, O’Neal bought a stake in the Ring video doorbell. His investment paid off after Ring was bought by Amazon for $1 billion. O’Neal is known as a brand ambassador and spokesperson as well, with partnerships in industries ranging from insurance to cruises.

Alex Rodriguez

In 2003, Rodriguez founded A-Rod Corp, which he uses as a vehicle for investments of all kinds. Through his company, Rodriguez has invested in companies like Snapchat, VitaCoco, and NRG eSports.

Rodriguez is heavily involved in real estate. Newport Property Construction, a real estate development firm attached to A-Rod Corp, has handled $1.5 billion in real estate assets, and Monumental Capital Management, his investment firm, has acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate. 

Steve Young

After retiring from football, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young co-founded private equity firm HGGC, which specializes in buying control of breakthrough software companies worth between $300 and $500 million. The firm’s first fund earned an 18.3% rate of return and a 1.7x investment multiple; its second fund raised more than $1.3 billion. Young was previously involved in several other private equity firms before starting HCCC. 

However, the firm’s reputation was marred after being sued for allegedly hiding fraud at one of its companies. While HGGC did not admit wrongdoing, the lawsuit was later settled for around $100 million. Young himself was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and HGGC later attempted to sue the company involved in the alleged fraud.

Serena Williams

Williams is among the best tennis players of all time, but her tennis career is just one part of her lucrative financial portfolio. In April of 2019, Williams launched Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in businesses founded by minorities and women. 60% of her investments with the firm have gone to minority-and-woman-owned companies. Serena Ventures has backed at least 34 companies.

Many of Williams’ investments are focused on food, fashion, health, and e-commerce. She has invested in the cryptocurrency marketplace Coinbase and Impossible Foods, a plant-based foods producer. By using the power of her personal brand and dealing with early-stage investments, Williams is able to minimize the risk inherent in most VC operations while maximizing the reward.

Venus Williams

Like her sister, Williams entered the world of investing and entrepreneurship during her tennis career. She is the founder of EleVen, a woman’s clothing line, and V Starr Interiors, an interior design company. Williams is invested in the fighting promotion UFC and Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women.

Kevin Durant

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant may be an athletic marvel and arguably the toughest matchup in the NBA, but he is also putting his talents towards investing. In 2016, Durant invested in Acorns, a mobile app that automatically invests spare change. Durant is also a stakeholder in Postmates, a Doordash competitor in the delivery space, and Coinbase.

By 2019, Durant had invested $15 million into more than 40 start-ups, and he has stated that those investments have grown nearly 400 percent. He benefited from his time on the San Francisco-based Golden State Warriors where he was able to connect with local tech investors and venture capitalists. Durant’s investments are managed by the Durant Company, an investment arm of Thirty Five Ventures.

Roger Staubach

In many ways, Roger Staubach is the original athlete-investor. During his playing career, Staubach worked as a real estate broker in the offseason. After his retirement, Staubach created the Staubach Company to further expand his real estate portfolio. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Staubach Co. expanded beyond Texas. Eventually, the firm would have more than 50 offices and 1000 employees.

In 2008, the company was bought by Chicago real estate firm Jones Lang Lasalle for $613 million. Staubach is currently a board member of JLL.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is not only widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, but he is also the richest athlete in modern history. Jordan’s best investment may be the Charlotte Hornets; he bought majority control of the franchise in 2010 for an estimated $175 million. Nine years later, Jordan—who had since bought even more of the team—sold a small stake in a deal that valued the franchise at $1.5 billion. Today, Jordan’s stake is worth $940 billion net.

Jordan has also invested in several smaller companies. These businesses include headphone brand Muzik and esports team aXiomatic. And, while not technically an investment, any discussion of Jordan’s business career would be incomplete without mentioning the Jordan Brand, which reportedly earned more than $3 billion in revenue in 2019. Jordan earned $130 million from his partnership with Nike last year.

Peyton Manning

The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback has been active as a businessman and investor after leaving the NFL. Manning’s most famous investment involves pizza chain Papa John’s. Manning bought a stake in 31 franchises in the Denver area, but later sold his stake just before the chain dropped its status as the official pizza of the NFL. Manning has also participated in early funding rounds for companies like WePlay, a now-defunct social site for athletes and coaches, and Whistle, a sports media company.

Magic Johnson

While still in the NBA, Johnson formed Magic Johnson Enterprises to act as a vehicle for his investments. First, MJE began to venture into real estate and theaters in the mid-90s. Next, MJE partnered with Starbucks and TGI Friday’s on various franchise opportunities. By the late 90s, MJE had acquired a major stake in Founders National Bank, which would later merge with several other banks to form OneUnited Bank—the largest Black-owned bank in the United States.

Over the last two decades, MJE has been involved in projects ranging from restaurants to fitness to cars to insurance. In addition to these projects, Johnson is a member of the ownership groups of the Los Angeles Dodgers and MLS club LAFC.