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10 Professional Athletes Playing the Franchise Game

These 10 sports superstars are using the franchise playbook for business success.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 07/30/15

Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography / 

Many athletes who are part of professional sports franchises find themselves gravitating toward the franchise model again when they decide to start a business. The combination of their star power mixed with the reputation of the brand they buy into can be a wicked potion for success.

Here are 10 professional athletes who have found franchises that fit their public persona and complement their lifestyle.

Jamal Mashburn – “Monster Mash” was one of the “Triple J’s” from the Dallas Mavericks that led to the biggest turnaround in the NBA in 1994. Today he owns more than 71 restaurants, including 34 Outback Steakhouse franchises and 37 Papa John’s franchises.

Drew Brees – The Super Bowl MVP was the cover story for a recent Franchise Times issue talking about how he got his first taste of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches when he was a student at Purdue University. Today he owns five stores (soon to be 20) in New Orleans.

Venus Williams – It’s not just men getting into the franchise industry. The tennis star has gone with the healthy alternative, opening her fourth Jamba Juice franchise recently in the D.C. area.

Peyton Manning – Drew Brees is not the only quarterback in the NFL that sees dollar signs when it comes to franchising. The five-time league MVP signed a deal to open 21 Papa John’s franchises in the Denver area.

Shaquille O’Neal – The 7’1” superstar basketball player loves pretzels and proves it by owning eight Auntie Anne’s in Buffalo, NY and nine more in Michigan.

Troy Williamson – The ex-Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars football player loves gourmet sandwiches and brought Which Wich Superior Sandwiches franchises to Aiken, South Carolina. The prodigal son tasted Which Wich for the first time in Atlanta and knew that it would be a hit in the area he grew up in.

Drew Smyly – The pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays decided that a family business was the way to go for him. He opened up a family sports restaurant franchise, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, with his father in Maumelle, Arkansas.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson – The original “sports entrepreneur” at one time owned over 100 Starbucks franchises. He also owns a TGI Friday’s restaurant in Ladera, California, as well as 30 Burger King franchises.

Phil Mickelson – After the pro golfer announced to a room full of reporters, unprompted, that he’d visited Five Guys Burgers & Fries six days in a row, he snapped up the rights to Five Guys’ Southern California locations.

Keyshawn Johnson – The Super Bowl Champion, best-selling author and ESPN analyst recently opened several Panera Bread franchises throughout California. He is not alone in these investments, as several NFL players are investors with his firm, First Picks Management, including Warrick Dunn, Dennis Northcutt, Reggie Bush and Terence Newman.