More often than not, when you think of athletes and how they manage their money it's not a pretty picture. Denny McLain and Lenny Dykstra both ended up in legal hot water for their business efforts, and the image of the once fabulously wealthy ex-athlete going bankrupt after a series of bad investments is a classic archetype with a litany of names to support it, including Evander Holyfield, Lawrence Taylor, and Mike Tyson. However, there have been some prominent success stories. People who, when given millions in their twenties, made financially savvy investments that would grow their wealth and set them up for a career in business after their playing days were over. So, without further ado, here are some of the world's most financially savvy athletes.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Earvin Johnson received his ubiquitous nickname while winning a Michigan state basketball title with Everett High School in Lansing, and since then he's been known simply as Magic while winning a national title with Michigan State in 1979 or five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. While the nickname came from his efforts on the basketball court, Johnson has also proven to have a magic touch in his business dealings as well. Magic's track record as an entrepreneur is superb. Beginning with his efforts to build high end movie theaters in urban communities through Magic Johnson Theaters, Magic has since pulled a variety of other business successes out of his hat, including owning 105 Starbucks (SBUX) franchises (until he sold them in October of 2010), 31 Burger Kings (BKC), 14 24-Hour Fitness locations, and Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company valued at some $700 million. Now, Johnson has teamed with Mark Walter, CEO of financial firm Guggenheim Partners, and former Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten in a bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Oscar De La Hoya
Oscar De La Hoya was one of the most popular and most recognizable boxers in the world for his 45-fight professional career that spanned from 1992 to 2008. However, De La Hoya may be making his biggest mark outside of the ring. Since retiring from boxing, De La Hoya has founded his company Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes boxing matches around the world. Learning from the mistakes of many fellow boxers, Oscar De La Hoya created a business opportunity that has been a tremendous success. The company set a record in 2006 by selling some 2 million pay-per-view subscriptions, and promoted De La Hoya's 2007 fight with Floyd Mayweather that appears to be the most successful in the history of the sport. Now, Oscar De La Hoya has a net worth reported to be at or near $175 million, allowing De La Hoya to make a $10 million investment in a 25 percent stake in Major League Soccer team the Houston Dynamo through Golden Boy.
Cincinnati's own Roger Staubach was a star on the football field, winning the Heisman trophy while at Navy before getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and going on to win two Super Bowls with "America's Team" along with the Super Bowl VI MVP. However, Staubach played during an era when player salaries weren't anywhere near the astronomical values they've reached today. In fact, Staubach even had to work for a real estate firm, the Henry S. Miller Company, during the offseason from 1970 to 1977. Poor guy, right? Not so fast. Staubach used what he learned at Miller to found The Roger Staubach Company, a real estate company through which Staubach would use contacts he made during his career to build a fortune finding tenants office, retail, and industrial space. Staubach would serve as CEO and Chairman of the company until 2007 when he stepped down. On July 11, 2008, Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. (JLL) purchased The Roger Staubach Company for $613 billion, a sale that will gross Staubach and his children's trust over $100 million by next year.