The sad tale of the athlete who went broke is not uncommon, with Fox Sports listing some famous athletes who lost their entire fortune.
These include boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, basketball stars Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker, and Sheryl Swoops, football players Warren Sapp and Lawrence Taylor, and golfer John Daly. These cases prove that millions earned over a ten, fifteen, even twenty year career might not last a lifetime. They also underscore the wisdom of becoming an entrepreneur to grow those millions, and possibly avert bankruptcy.
Now it seems athletes are more cognizant of the fickle nature of money. That is one of the likeliest explanations for the rise of athlete-entrepreneurs, like Danica Patrick, who spoke at length to Grit Daily contributor Jeremy Ryan Slate about her stab at entrepreneurship. The ex-racer is the owner of Somnuim Wine and the creator of a clothing line called Warrior. Patrick is also just one of an increasing number of athletes becoming entrepreneurs.
Like Patrick, LeBron James is an athlete-turned-entrepreneur, and he has done so despite having signed a lifetime contract with Nike. The fact that James has branched out to business makes perfect sense given his lofty goal of being a billion-dollar athlete. The four-time NBA MVP, is a is a Taco Bell franchisee and the owner of the marketing company LRMR and the owner of the marketing company LRMR. He also owns the media platform Uninterrupted, which just got an investment from Warner Bros. Entertainment and Turner Sports worth an astonishing $15.8 million.
Those, though, are just three of James’s business interests. He has more, and you best believe he’ll add more to his business portfolio even as he continues to play basketball at an extremely high level at the age of 34. The King is, in fact, fourth in bwin’s likely MVP winners this season, right behind another athlete-entrepreneur, Stephen Curry.
With James still seemingly at the peak of his athletic powers, it might take a little longer before he turns his full attention to his entrepreneurial endeavors; but when he does, he’ll likely have an empire to run.
James talking about building his “financial kingdom.”
James’s and Patrick’s power play in business reflect a growing trend of athletes trying their hand at being entrepreneurs. Another big reason for this trend is that athletes are starting to fully realize the potential of using their “brand” — the name recall and recognition of being an athlete. This alone opens a plethora of business opportunities, making it at least partially easier and more convenient to venture out into entrepreneurship. Perhaps just as important, athletes have the financial capacity to actually explore these opportunities and make them work.
It also helps, according to the Huffington Post, that sports foster the traits that make successful entrepreneurs. Resiliency, forged through repeatedly failing and rising back up, is one such trait. Another attribute bolstered by sport and necessary in business is mental toughness, which refers to “the ability to psychologically endure pressure, while still performing at peak efficiency.” The ability to think systematically is another important factor that spells the difference between a successful and unsuccessful entrepreneur, and again, it is enhanced by sports.
Easy, all-encompassing access to information is also making it possible for athletes to explore frontiers outside of their sporting craft. Whereas the athletes of yesteryears had to go out of their way to discover relevant details about business opportunities, including their pros and cons, the athletes of today only need to go online to find the information they need to either invest in a business or hold fire.
They can even cold call, or in the case of retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, cold email industry titans like Arianna Huffington. Doing so gives these athletes tried-and-tested business perspectives, which they can in turn use as guide once they do decide to delve on business.
Finally, athletes nowadays are likely more aware of the riches-to-rags stories of such high-profile athletes as Tyson, Iverson, and company. This heightened awareness of how it is entirely possible to lose millions is arguably making today’s athletes more vigilant about their earnings, and more open to exploring means to grow their money in preparation for life after sports. And in the grand scheme of things, life after sports matters just as much as an athlete’s career.
Jordan French is the Executive Editor of Grit Daily. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur.
He is the founder of Notability Partners and the co-founder of BNB Shield, Lisbon Hill Farms, Status Labs, BeeHex, BlockTelegraph, and Grit Daily. A biomedical engineer and intellectual-property attorney, French is the author of upcoming book, The Gritty Entrepreneur.