10 Black Athletes Whose Talents Helped Them Build Wealth On & Off The Court
Photo Credit: Aris Messinis / Oli Scarff

10 Black Athletes Whose Talents Helped Them Build Wealth On & Off The Court

Some of the world’s biggest athletes have climbed their way to the top, not just off their stellar abilities on the court, but their prowess in the business world as well.

The secret to athletes keeping their legacy going is making money moves outside of their sports careers. Nowadays, athletes having a business reputation is just as important as having a championship title to their name. Smart investments, sponsorships and partnerships go a long way in securing the bag long after their playing days are over. Between money from their sports salaries, fame as elite athletes and their many business ventures, today’s sports figures are all about stretching their wealth to build major business empires.

In case you didn’t know, here are some former and current sports stars who have defied the odds to make a fortune beyond sports:

Michael Jordan

Photo Credit: Jordan Brand

Estimated Net Worth: $1.6 Billion

Michael Jordan has undoubtedly become the the most profound athlete in the world who has secured a legendary reputation for his mastery, both on and off the court. Beyond being an NBA superstar in his prime, his epic deal with Nike gave rise to sneaker culture and helped make it what it is today.

The Jordan brand is one of the most prolific sneaker brands on the market today, and has maintained its prominence for over two decades now. According to Forbes, Nike has paid Jordan approximately $1.3 billion since 1984 as of last year. In addition to his esteemed brand, AfroTech also reported that Jordan built his billion-dollar fortune off of being a major franchise owner of the Charlotte Hornets, as well as lending his image and likeness to endorsement deals with brands like Hanes, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Chevrolet and General Mills.

 

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Serena Williams

Photo Credit: Oli Scarff

Estimated Net Worth: $240 Million

Serena Williams, considered one of the most iconic female tennis players of all-time, has also worked her entire career to be named one of the highest-paid female athletes of all-time. By definition, she’s a self-made millionaire whose endorsement deals and partnerships with brands like Nike have put her on the road to financial success. However, it’s her venture capital arm, Serena Ventures, that has immersed her in the investment game.

Her goal to invest in promising startups has paid off with companies like HUED, Esusu, Lolli and many more. But most of all, she’s made it a point to intentionally back companies formed by diverse founders, specifically Black women, because she believes they’re the future of entrepreneurship.

 

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LeBron James

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

Estimated Net Worth: $850 Million

LeBron James is one of, if not, the biggest star in the NBA today, who’s changing the game for his peers outside the basketball court and setting a new standard for success. According to Forbes, he has the highest endorsement portfolio in the league, working with brands like PepsiCo, AT&T, Beats, Nike and many more.

The “Space Jam” star has earned so much over the course of his career. In July, he hit $1 billion in career earnings in July from his various endorsement deals, merchandise, licensing and media business, Springhill Co., on top of his playing salary. He’s without a doubt the GOAT when it comes to creating an all-encompassing empire.

 

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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Photo Credit: Jesse Grant

Estimated Net Worth: $400 Million

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of a few celebrities who has had a successful sports career, as well as an equally-prosperous career in entertainment and business. As the proud owner of drink brands ZOA Energy and Teremana Tequilla, the retired wrestler-turned-pop culture figure and actor is breaking records as a business owner. More than that, he’s breaking them on social media as well.

As previously reported by AfroTech, The Rock is now the second highest-paid celebrity on Instagram, making more than $1 million per post for his sponsors. That kind of money has put him in a new revenue bracket with a multi-million dollar net worth that reflects his major movie deals, endorsements and investments.

 

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Shaquille O'Neal

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

Estimated Net Worth: $400 Million

As one of the NBA’s richest stars ever, Shaquille O’Neal has become the poster child for high-profile endorsement deals and it makes him quite a grip of money every year. According to Forbes, he’s focused on building a business empire that’s fun — and that philosophy is what created his $400 million net worth.

As the owner of a whopping 50 brands, O’Neal’s financial portfolio rivals that of his peers. Though it’s unclear how much he owns of his many brands, AfroTech previously confirmed that he owns parts of Playboy, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and JCPenney. On top of that, a lot of his revenue comes from being a part of companies like Papa John’s and the joint owner of several Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants.

 

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Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Photo Credit: Randy Holmes

Estimated Net Worth: $600 Million

Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the most successful former athletes in the world, whose many business ventures have made him a force to be reckoned with. After his 12-year run in the NBA, Johnson’s wealth kicked into overdrive and motivated him to build a fortune based on ownership of health clubs, movie theaters, real estate and more.

The retired basketball legend — also former president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers — is now part-owner of the Los Angeles Football Club and also has a stake in the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stephen Curry

Photo Credit: Brian Stukes

Estimated Net Worth: $160 Million

Stephen Curry has more than proved his incredible basketball skills on the court, but now he’s working on building up his reputation as a businessman. With his company SC30 — which manages his investments, brand partnerships and philanthropic ventures — Curry is building an extension of his own brand that goes beyond the game of basketball.

Last year, in an effort to rival Nike’s Jordan brand, Curry launched his own self-named brand in partnership with Under Armour. Additionally, he’s created his very own production company, Unanimous Media, to further his vision in the media world. Curry also has an equity partnership with beverage startup Oxigen that his business portfolio benefits from.

 

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Kevin Durant

Photo Credit: Aris Messinis

Estimated Net Worth: $200 Million

Kevin Durant is winning as an athlete and businessman right now making smart moves that are making a difference. After taking his talents to the investment game, the Brooklyn Nets star told Forbes that, in addition to basketball, he’s focusing his attention on building a business empire — one that will secure his future even after retirement.

Capitalizing on his NBA platform, AfroTech previously told you that Durant has put himself in a position to let his investments speak for themselves — including his latest in health tracking firm WHOOP that’s now valued at $3.6 billion. He even has a deal with Nike to produce his own self-named signature sneaker line. Similar to how James has secured his billion-dollar earnings, Durant is expected to follow in his footsteps as the next active player to reach that milestone.

 

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Al Harrington

Photo Credit: Leon Bennett

Estimated Net Worth: $40 Million

Al Harrington is among that rare group of former NBA players who flourish even more after their time in the league. As a Black man, he has single-handedly built a multi-national cannabis empire that’s on a mission to transform the entire industry for other Black and brown entrepreneurs.

The now cannabis connoisseur and his Viola brand have a goal to produce 100 Black cannabis millionaires to deliver some much-needed diversity to the industry. With that in mind, Harrington’s own wealth is about to open a lot of doors for others to build their fortunes as well.

 

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George Foreman

Photo Credit: Roger Kisby

Estimated Net Worth: $300 Million

If there’s anyone in the world of sports who’s made a fortune off of their name alone, it’s George Foreman. The former two-time world heavyweight boxing champion’s namesake grill made him millions in his retirement through a genius partnership with Salton Inc.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Foreman was paid $138 million for the company to use his name, image and likeness for promotion. However, he reports that there were some months where he made up to $8 million from his grills. Between his monthly royalties and the buy-out, Foreman personally pocketed at least $250 million from the deal.