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8 professional athletes who became successful entrepreneurs

May 20, 2022 (0) comment , , , ,

Business and sports are a lot alike. They’re demanding, competitive, and require a team-first mentality.

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Venus showcasing her clothing line, EleVen, at Wimbledon.


That’s why so many professional athletes have traded in their rackets, cleats, and jerseys for a career in business.

Here are eight athletes who brought their competitive drive and get-it-done mindset to the world of business, and learned how to win on a different kind of turf.

Venus Williams is the founder and CEO of two companies


Theo Wargo/Getty

This tennis ace couldn’t wait for retirement to start her own company, and the seven-time Grand Slam singles champ now has an equally impressive business résumé as she does an athletic one.

She is the founder and CEO of the clothing line, EleVen, and interior design company, V Starr Interiors. She told Forbes magazine, “I think as an athlete you’re always overcoming all kinds of challenges. That’s the name of sport — it’s a challenge. So definitely applying those lessons of perseverance and learning from mistakes and setting goals has definitely helped me in business.”

Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Roger Staubach built a real estate firm

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The Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories turned to real estate after retiring his football helmet and pads. He worked for real estate titan Henry Miller Jr. for six years before building his own commercial real estate firm, The Staubach Company. The firm began with five employees, expanded exponentially under Staubach’s leadership, and eventually sold for $613 million in 2008.

John Elway owns two steakhouses and an Arena Football League team

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The legendary Denver Broncos quarterback, and two-time Super Bowl champion, made a splash in the world of business after hanging up his blue and orange No. 7 jersey. Since retiring, he has been involved in several business ventures, most notably owning two “Elway’s” steakhouses, five auto dealerships, and an Arena Football League team, the Colorado Crush.

Kristi Yamaguchi founded a nonprofit organization


Bob Martin/Getty

The Olympic ice skating champion who took home gold for for the United States at the 1992 Winter Games founded the Always Dream Foundation, which enriches the lives of children through education and recreational activities. She also launched a limited-edition women’s clothing line, Tsu.ya, and directed a portion of the proceeds to her foundation.

George Foreman has launched several products

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Anthony Harvey/Getty

The boxer made a name for himself in the 1968 Olympic games when he knocked out Jonas Čepulis to secure a gold medal. He started his business career several years before retiring, when he introduced the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine in 1994. He went on to launch a variety of products, including environmentally friendly cleaning products and a clothing line.

Lewis Howes turned a devastating injury into a seven-figure business

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Stephen Lovekin/Getty

Howes left college early to pursue a career in professional football, but was sidelined from the sport with a career-ending injury shortly into his first season. He quickly switched gears, and turned his obsession for business and marketing into a multi-million dollar online media company, which aimed to educate people on how to grow their careers.

He sold the education company to his partner two years ago, but continues to educate people through podcasts, articles, and public speaking. His athletic career resurfaced in 2012 when he was selected for the US national handball team.

Maria Sharapova founded a candy line


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The five-time Grand Slam champion and current No. 2 player in the world finds time off the tennis court to take on the world of business. She founded the premium candy line, Sugarpova, in 2013, and saw great success in the first year, selling over two million bags of candy.

Wayne Gretzky owns a restaurant and a winery


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The hockey legend traded in his career on ice for a career in business. He told the Financial Post, “You can’t just retire at the age 40 years old and play golf every day. I tried it for one year and you quickly find out it’s nice to be active.”

The all-time leading goal scorer in the NHL chose to be active in the business world, and is now involved in several business ventures, including the “Wayne Gretzky’s” restaurant in Toronto, and Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery.


This article was originally written by Kathleen Elkins and appeared here.


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