For those of a particular age, certain cultural moments immediately evoke nostalgia. Undoubtedly, one of those moments is best wrapped up in Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson’s coined phrase: “If you smell what The Rock is cooking.”
For years, the WWE wrestler would taunt his opponents and captivate the audience through what was once described as the most electrifying move in sports entertainment: the people’s elbow. However, Johnson’s story doesn’t start or end with his popularity in wrestling.
Football Was The Original Dream For The Rock
Johnson — a California native — spent the early years of his life engaged in sports while watching his father, Rocky Johnson, have a career in the wrestling industry. Although this example would eventually foretell The Rock’s career, he would spend some time pursuing a football career.
After graduating from high school, Johnson attended the University of Miami as a member of its football program. According to Bleacher Report, the athlete played on the team from 1991 until 1994, helping the program win a national title in 1991. He ended his collegiate football career with 77 tackles and 4.25 sacks.
Entering The Family Business Became Johnsons’ Breakout Decision
Going undrafted into the NFL, Johnson decided to pivot his career to what he describes as the family business. On an episode of the “Pivot Podcast,” Johnson noted that he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps as a professional wrestler, but his father was vehemently against the idea.
However, after more conversations, his father got on board and supported Johnson’s decision. During the discussion on the podcast, The Rock admitted that his entry into the wrestling industry wasn’t easy. While he had family pedigree on his side, he only had $7 in his pocket at the beginning of this transitional moment.
Deciding to officially pursue wrestling, The Rock would make his debut locally and eventually sign with WWE. During his tenure, he became a 10-time WWE champion, and would headline several of the organization’s events.
Johnson leveraged his popularity and success as a wrestler to expand his career into the entertainment industry as an actor and the face and name behind several brands. According to data from Celebrity Net Worth, The Rock’s collective success has earned him an estimated $800 million fortune.
Let’s take a look at the different ways The Rock built his empire to become “the most electrifying man” across several industries.
Wrestling Was The Stepping Stone For The Rock's Massive Earnings
According to a separate piece from Bleacher Report, Johnson is a third-generation wrestler, making his debut as Rocky Maivia in 1996. He would quickly rise to fame during the WWE’s “Attitude Era” and leverage his personality to become known as the “People’s Champ.”
He would go on to face some of the industry’s biggest stars like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Winning the organization’s top title several times, he had the honor of inducting his father and grandfather into the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dwayne Johnson Pivots From The Wrestling Ring To The Big Screen
After a long and successful career in wrestling, Johnson began a very successful tenure as an actor. He would star in several television shows and movies, including titles like “Ballers,” “Black Adam,” and “Jumanji.”
According to a Forbes report, Johnson has even become one of the industry’s highest-paid actors. What’s more, the outlet claims he can command over $20 million per movie.
The Rock Returns To Football As An Owner
A previous report from AFROTECH notes that Johnson purchased the XFL in 2020 for an estimated $15 million. It connected to his wrestling roots, as former WWE CEO Vince McMahon previously owned the league.
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia, and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things — my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” said Johnson. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
Johnson Uses His Image And Likeness To Build His Portfolio
The Rock’s athletic ability landed him a partnership with Under Armour, offering clothing and shoes. Based on a press release from UFC, The Rock’s Under Armour line “Project Rock” partnered with the cage fighting organization to produce the BSR 3, an impact-absorbing training shoe. Johnson has also had deals with brands like Apple and Ford.
Plus, he founded an energy drink called Zoa.
Although his athletic prowess was a match made in heaven for his lucrative deal with Under Armour, Johnson is also the man behind Teremana, a tequila brand.
The Rock Is A Family Man
The Rock is the proud father of three daughters, actively parenting with his wife, Lauren Hashian.
Now, his oldest daughter, Simone Alexandra Johnson, has mirrored her father’s footsteps. Simone signed with the WWE as a wrestler in 2020, making her television debut in 2022 as Ava Raine.