The difference between the good and the great in sports is simple -- money. Athletes who are able to handle their business and transcend the game, turning themselves into big time brands, are the only ones who see success beyond their playing careers and stay on top.
Nobody wants to see an Allen Iverson type of guy who lived too fast, squandered all of his cash and fell flat on his ass. Even being one of the greatest talents of all time, he just didn't have the business smarts to keep himself in the game. Those on-the-court issues on the other hand? Well, that was another problem.
When we look at guys who are able to propel their status as professional athletes into a full-fledged businesses and companies, we wonder why all guys (and ladies) don't just do the same. It's survival of the fittest out here and for the ones who don't adapt, they'll just fall straight on their faces. These are the 10 most successful athletes turned moguls in the game:
Cal Ripken Jr.
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Net Worth: $75 million
Cal Ripken Jr. was one of the biggest beasts in baseball during the 80s and 90s. Nicknamed the "Iron Man," Cal didn't let retirement bring him into a world of obscurity, as he started his own company Ripken Baseball, Inc. where he serves as the company's CEO. Here he manages other baseball subsidiaries, which include minor league team affiliates for the San Francisco Giants and Charlotte Stone Crabs.
In addition to that, he's also the spokesman for Holiday Inn, Energizer, State Farm Insurance and Chevrolet. Cal has been busier than you would think since leaving the game in 2001.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Net Worth: $300 million
Arguably the biggest international soccer star of his time, David Beckham is used to switching it up and trying new things. He did after all play for five different Euro teams during his day and even spent time in the states as a member of the LA Galaxy. As a businessman, he mixes it up too. He's had deals with quite literally everybody including Samsung, Pepsi, Adidas, Gameboy, XBox and of course EA Sports.
He's really out there in the fashion world too, as a spokesman for H&M and he even launched his own fragrance line, appropriately named David Beckham. His charity work includes UNICEF, Goodwill, Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS and Malaria No More. David Beckham's a good guy for sure.
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Net Worth: $45 million
Before there was Peyton Manning, there was John Elway. Fifteen years removed from the NFL (he retired in 1998) and he is now one of the biggest investors in the game, which is no surprise considering that he graduated from Stanford University. Today, he still has a football role as vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos and even co-owns the arena football team, the Colorado Crush.
In 2008, he sold five car dealerships for a grand total of $82.5 million. In addition to this, John is also a restauranteur with two Elway-named steakhouses in the Mile High City and he also started a non-profit organization to help stop child abuse. That's how you get busy after life in the league.
Net Worth: $200 million
You'd be crazy if you think that the Mamba is just chilling at the crib with his bad wife and two daughters all day. Well, he probably does during the offseason, but that doesn't mean he isn't also a sick businessman. Not only does he always manage to snag some of the most absurd contracts (no wonder why they can't afford to get any other stars out in LA to play with him), but he has one of the dopest Nike ad campaigns for his own sneaker line.
His deal with Nike is worth a cool $32 million annually. Something light. Kobe is one of the most strategic endorsers in the game with brands behind him such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Turkish Air, Mercedes-Benz and memorabilia firm Panini. On top of all of this, Kobe's brand overseas, especially in China, is off the walls. He's going to be Gucci for the rest of his life.
John Parra/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE
Net Worth: $60 million
While she may never live up to the hype of her sister, Venus Williams is definitely the more business savvy of the two. She started her own interior design firm, V Starr Interiors a few years ago and has launched other fashion lines since. She is also a co-owner of the Miami Dolphins alongside her sister Serena Williams and has even released a New York Times best selling book "Come to Win." Forbes regularly ranks her as one of their top celebrities and she's proven it.
Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Clear Channel
Net Worth: $170 million
Floyd Mayweather is more of a mogul than an athlete to begin with. Not only does he already coordinate all of his fighting contracts and marketing, but he somehow scumbags his way into getting a ridiculous piece of the pie. He made a guaranteed $41.5 million alone in his last fight with Canelo Alvarez and even got a free Bugatti from the MGM Grand. What's most interesting about Mayweather though is that he endorses no companies. Just imagine what he'd be reeling in if he did.
Net Worth: $110 million
When it's all said and done, LeBron James could be the richest man on this list. He's only 28 and already valued at a cool $110 million. A lot of that has to do with his $90 million Nike contract that he's under as he signed on to the Heat to play for much less money than some of his other competitors.
But LeBron ain't no one-trick pony. He launched his own marketing agency LRMR where he deals with clients from Sprite, to Upper Deck and Glacéau. In addition to his, James is also part owner of English football team Liverpool. The King has a bright future in business all around the world.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella
Net Worth: $120 million
Tony Hawk has been killing it since most of us could walk as he is one of the true pioneers of skateboarding. Not only did we all play his classic pro skating video game franchise growing up when it launched in 1999, but Tony is also a best-selling author.
His brand is also the biggest in skating with his company Birdhouse, which produces everything from decks, to gear and clothes. Endorsement deals include Activision, Kohl's, Six Flags, Adio, Sirius and Jeep.
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational
Net Worth: $650 million
The Jordan brand is one of the strongest in sports and that's all thanks to none other than the GOAT, Michael Jordan. His legacy off the court is just as untouchable as it is on the court, as he has transformed himself into one of the biggest businesses in the world.
With his own thriving shoe company (whom he passed over to his son), endorsements with pretty much every big corporation and ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats (for what it's worth), he has amassed a staggering net worth well over half a billion dollars.
Net Worth: $500 million
When it comes to entrepreneurship and truly being a mogul once you've retired from the game, Magic Johnson is the blueprint on how to do things. Not only is he a Hollywood legend for his glory days with the Lakers, but he is also a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers -- the most exciting team in baseball. But bringing back life into a once dejected sports franchise isn't his only achievement since retiring.
Magic is the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which is estimated to be worth upwards of $700 million. Under this, he has everything from movie theaters, production companies and more. Now he’s turning his attention to Detroit Venture Partners.
It’s, essentially, an online shark tank (similar to Kickstarter) where people with businesses can acquire funding. This firm has invested in groups like Stylecaster, Sociocast and FLUD News. There is no one in the game today busier than Magic.
Top Photo Credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images