Professional athlete salaries are out of this world—they’re so huge that many of those professional athletes can retire with enough money to buy something really expensive. Like a professional sports team.
Michael Jordan is from North Carolina, and in 2006 he bought a portion of the state’s NBA team, the Charlotte Bobcats. Now known as the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan is now a majority owner.
Wayne Gretzky was “The Great One,” almost universally regarded as the greatest hockey player to ever take the ice. He wasn’t as good at carrying an NHL team from the front office. He was a co-owner (and head coach) of the Phoenix Coyotes, which declared bankruptcy in 2009 and were sold shortly thereafter.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson
NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson has a diverse and lucrative portfolio of investments. At various times in the past 20 years, his company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has owned a chain of eponymous movie theaters, more than 30 Burger King franchises, a chain of gyms, and a controlling stake in Sodexco, a school-lunch provider. In 2012, his investment group bought baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and two years later, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
LeBron James is still playing, but he’s already amassed enough of a fortune to start investing in sports franchises. In 2011, he bought into an investment group that makes him a partial owner of Liverpool FC, one of England’s most valuable and storied soccer teams (okay, football).
All-time strikeout king, Hall of Famer, and Texas native Nolan Ryan finished out his 27-year career with four seasons pitching for the Texas Rangers. In 2008, he joined the team’s front office as president, and in 2010, he led a group called Rangers Baseball Express which successfully purchased the Rangers for $385 million. After some corporate re-organization, Ryan is currently CEO, president, and minority owner of the Texas Rangers.
Venus and Serena Williams
Sisters Venus and Serena Williams are two of the most successful tennis players of all time. They’re also the first African-American team owners in NFL history, with each holding a portion of the Miami Dolphins.
Mario Lemieux is among the best hockey players of all time, and certainly the biggest star in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He retired after a 13-year career in 1997, but was back with the team in 1999. The team declared bankruptcy, and Lemieux purchased it. And then in 2000, he hit the ice again as a player—marking the only time in recent memory that an owner played for the team they owned.