Is There Life After Sports?
Is There Life After Sports?

Franchising offers retired professional athletes a unique business opportunity.

Playing professional sports is not a career that will last forever, or even longer than a few years for some. While athletes may be financially stable immediately after their careers end, will they be able to continue their lifestyle?

Many athletes do not have plans for their careers after sports, and it just so happens that franchising can be a great option for retired or current professional athletes.

Michael Stone, founder and executive director of the Professional Athletes Franchise Initiative, is on a mission to fill the void for athletes post career, and he wants to do so by educating athletes on the opportunity of getting involved in the franchising industry. PAFI seeks to be the bridge that connects athletes, franchisors and suppliers.

Franchising specifically offers an enticing opportunity for athletes that have not had the business education, training, or experience that many entrepreneurs have had, but they have the capital and recognition that a brand can use locally to kick start their business.

Stone explains, “Franchising is easy to understand and there is a greater chance of doing your due diligence. Usually you invest in an idea, but with a franchise, you are investing in a business.”

The idea of a “business in a box” is also appealing to many athletes who are new to business and entrepreneurship. “The opportunity lies in leveraging a business, instead of making your own. You also know how much the overall investment will be up front and there is a minimized risk on the investment.”

Stone also believes that playing sports helped him prepare for the business world. “I was used to hearing “no”. My resilience and ability to battle back helped as well since nothing goes as planned.” These personal attributes are those that numerous athletes have learned during their careers and can use while owning franchise locations.

Here are a few key athletes that have seized the opportunity to invest in franchises.

Peyton Manning has invested in 21 Papa Johns locations all in Colorado. Word has it that the pizza business is doing pretty well out there with a few new state laws.

Magic Johnson and the Magic Johnson Enterprises portfolio owned 105 Starbucks locations before selling, while it currently owns TGI Friday’s, Loew’s Movie Theaters, as well as many other franchises in various industries.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Buffalo Bill, Angelo Crowell, is a Jersey Mike’s franchisee, with five stores and counting.

With his love of Jimmy Johns starting during his college career at Purdue, Drew Brees had to continue to have gourmet sandwiches on the regular by opening his own Jimmy Johns franchise location in his new home city in New Orleans.

Tennis star and one of the few female athlete franchise owners, Venus Williams took the healthy approach and by purchasing multiple Jamba Juice locations.

The first overall draft pick in the 1992 NBA draft, might also be a top draft pick in the franchising world these days. Shaquille O’Neal owns Five Guys locations, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants, along with 24-Hour Fitness clubs--to only name a few.

Junior Bridgeman is the King of the Frosty due to his ownership of over 100 Wendy’s restaurants, making him the second-largest Wendy’s franchise owner in the U.S, according to Fortune Magazine. He also owns a Chili’s franchise and other restaurant concepts.

Chauncey Billups teamed with veteran franchisee Junior Bridgeman in his purchase of 30 Wendy’s restaurants. A smart move by Billups to team up with an all-star from the franchising industry. Well played, Chauncey.