Top 20 Athletes Who Earned WAY More After Retirement

The 'dumb jock' label is a broad and often unfair general characterization of professional athletes. Granted, some will sometimes give us little reason to believe otherwise. But while some fail to see past the temporary nature of their natural, elite talents and into a future post-playing career, many find a way to use the connections established in their pro days and their inherent competitive mindset to thrive after retirement.

In some ways, the business world can parallel the sports world - and recognizable athletes can boast an automatic leg up when it comes to getting noticed within a competitive marketplace. Just like sports, the business world can be cutthroat with multiple forces at work vying for the same thing, albeit with the potential for more than one winner to emerge. It certainly helps to have the edge that comes along with a playing career filled with adulation, attention and the recognition stemming from years in the public eye.

The question becomes, then, how those advantages are used. For every story of an athlete blowing an eye-popping amount of earned salary through bad investments, ill-advised spending, an entourage of hangers-on and trust placed in the wrong people, there are less publicized accounts of former pros who are thriving in retirement. It isn't nearly as exciting to hear of a former player investing wisely or launching a successful business venture as it is to hear about how quickly tens of millions of dollars can be flushed down the toilet.

It's still remarkable, though, to consider that these athletes have managed to out-earn their playing day selves, particularly considering the going rate for professional athletes across just about any mainstream sport. Sure, some of the names on this list didn't have the benefit of superstar talent or coming along in today's era of mammoth, multi-million dollar contracts. But it's a credit to all included here that they quickly adapted to a post-playing day second life that has brought with it a nice chunk of change.

20 20. Oscar De La Hoya

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

19 19. Eric Cantona

18 18. Derek Jeter

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

17 17. Robert Elliott


16 16. Sachin Tendulkar


15 15. Rick Mirer


14 14. Hakeem Olajuwon

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

13 13. Gary Player

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

12 12. Jim Brown

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

11 11. Michael Strahan

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

10 10. Roger Staubach

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

9 9. Nolan Ryan

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

8 8. David Whelan


7 7. Jack Nicklaus

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

6 6. George Foreman

5 5. Magic Johnson

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4 4. Arnold Palmer

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. David Beckham

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports1

2 2. Roger Penske

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

1 1. Michael Jordan

William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Name a major global brand and chances are that Michael Jordan has attached his name to it at some point - Nike, Gatorade, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Chevrolet, among others. It is Nike's Jordan brand that has kept His Airness amassing an even greater fortune in retirement, including a stunning 2013 in which he ranked as the second-highest earning athlete (behind Floyd Mayweather), either retired or active. MJ also owns seven restaurants, a car dealership and an 80% stake in the Charlotte Hornets.

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Top 20 Athletes Who Earned WAY More After Retirement