Sports Lists

16 Former Athletes Who Are Still Cashing In

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2014

16 Former Athletes Who Are Still Cashing In

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    Charley Gallay/Getty Images

    Who says that retirement has to be the end of collecting paychecks?

    While most of us normal folks look forward to the day that we can leave our jobs and move down to Florida, some former athletes have proven that the big paydays still keep on coming.

    So whether it's because of a contract that saw lots of deferred money that paid them later or due to major endorsement deals, these are the guys who are still raking in the money even after their playing days.

Phil Jackson

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Unlike some other people on this list, former New York Knicks player and legendary NBA head coach Phil Jackson isn't just sitting on a gold mine, but that doesn't mean he isn't making one.

    While Jackson is "forced" with the daunting task of rebuilding his old team, he is getting paid a pretty penny to do so, signing a five-year deal that pays him $12 million annually.

    It won't be easy turning around the fortunes of the Knicks, but at that price, I'm sure Jackson is more than up to the challenge.

Shaquille O'Neal

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    One of Phil Jackson's former players, Shaquille O'Neal is still on top of his game—even if he's not dunking on other players.

    Sure, Shaq earned a fortune from his salary alone—eclipsing over $292 million—but he's been able to maintain quite the million dollar checks since calling it quits a few years ago.

    Thanks to marketing deals with a few different brands, "The Big Aristotle" profoundly agreed to terms with companies that will continue to build his net worth.

Pele

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Considering this summer's World Cup is in his native Brazil, it's obvious why soccer legend Pele is in such high demand.

    With nearly five decades of helping grow the game of soccer around the world as an ambassador off the field, Brazil's most influential celebrity last year carries a net worth of $60 million, thanks in large part to endorsement deals and a film set to release this year.

Roger Staubach

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    Barry Brecheisen/Associated Press

    Any current or future pro athlete who might want to start a business should follow the lead of former Dallas Cowboys great Roger Staubach.

    While still playing for the Cowboys in 1977, the two-time Super Bowl champ began a real estate company that, back in 2008, he sold for $613 million—in which he collected nearly $77 million from as a 12 percent owner.

    Add in marketing deals and other endorsements, and Staubach has set up a pretty fine retirement package for himself.

Gilbert Arenas

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Considering that Gilbert Arenas hasn't played in a NBA game in three years, this picture probably tells the story of what the former All-Star does now—straight lounging.

    That's because, thanks to a contract he signed with the Washington Wizards for six years, $111 million in 2008, the Orlando Magic—who picked up most of the tab following a trade—are forced to pay him the remaining $38 million after they used the amnesty clause a few years ago.

    And by the sounds of things, Arenas is totally cool with sitting back and counting his bills.

Wayne Gretzky

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    Nick Ut/Associated Press

    Wayne Gretzky last played in 1999, but that hasn't stopped him from making millions of dollars in the 15 years since retiring.

    On top of the large sums of cash "The Great One" rakes in from marketing deals and his own business ventures, he was handed an $8 million check as part of deferred money from his time as coach and managing partner with the Phoenix Coyotes.

    His daughter Paulina Gretzky might be the one getting the most eyes these days, but her dad is still the one making the money.

Magic Johnson

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Former L.A. Lakers star Magic Johnson may have signed a huge, long-term deal for $25 million over 25 years that ran from 1984-2009, but that's not where he has made his money.

    As one of the sharpest businesspeople on the planet, Magic has built an empire with a number of different franchises that have turned an investment into a fortune.

    From Starbucks to movie theaters, along with his involvement with the Dodgers and Lakers, Johnson reportedly generated about $100 million alone from selling a number of his Starbucks' and Lakers shares back in 2010.

    It seems he works his magic in the business world, too.

Gary Player

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    (Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Huma/Associated Press

    Known for his intense workout regimen—even posing for ESPN's Body Issue at 77 last year—nine-time major champ Gary Player also appears to be fond of making money.

    And although he made $14 million over a 60-year career, the South African has brought in even more since, bringing in a reported $36 million in 2013 alone from his own company.

    Add in endorsement deals, and Player is both fit physically and financially.

Sachin Tendulkar

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    Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

    For 24 years, Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was widely considered to be the greatest batsman of the modern generation, even earning the nickname as the "God of Cricket."

    With such high praise, it was only natural that he would make some money along the way.

    So even after walking away from cricket in November, 2013, Sachin continues to earn plenty of cash from endorsement deals, which will only see him add to his already high net worth.

David Beckham

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    Bullit Marquez/Associated Press

    Legendary soccer player David Beckham untied his cleats for the last time in 2013, but no one should feel too sorry that he isn't playing the sport he loves any longer.

    That's because, in large part to his endorsement deals with Adidas and H&M, Becks is still counting big boy coins, earning a reported $47 million in 2013.

    With that type of income, it's no wonder the Brit is one of the owners of the new MLS team in Miami.

Bobby Bonilla

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    As a lesson for all current or future owners of any sports team, deferring money on a player's contract can really come back to bite you.

    That's what happened to the New York Mets who, back in 1998, traded for former All-Star outfielder Bobby Bonilla, also acquiring a preexisting contract that, had they agreed to pay in 2000, would have saved them a lot of cash.

    Seeing how the team opted to release Bobby Bo that year instead of paying him $5.9 million, the team is on the hook for annual payments of nearly $1.2 million until 2035.

    Talk about an awful long-term investment.

George Foreman

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    Steve Finn/Getty Images

    If it looks like former heavyweight champ George Foreman is really enjoying the food he cooked on the grill bearing his name, it's because the thing has reportedly made him more than $200 million since 1995.

    Thanks to the huge endorsement deal he signed with Salton Inc.—the company who makes the grill—Foreman is adding quite the cash to his already huge net worth.

    The former boxer may have had some huge knockouts in his career, but the decision to sign that contract with Salton Inc. is the biggest knockout he's ever had.

Jack Nicklaus

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    For all the parents out there who are afraid of their kids getting hurt in sports, it might be time to start considering some golf lessons for Junior.

    That's because, should they get good, it can be a really effective long-term financial plan.

    At least that's the case for 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus who, even after calling it quits from competitive play awhile back, still landed fourth on the highest-paid golfers list in 2012 with over $28 million from endorsements, behind only Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

    That's what I consider an ace.

Allen Iverson

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    While it has been reported that former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson is in fact broke, there's actually a bit of a gray area in there.

    Try a $32 million gray area.

    That's because, while he may not be sitting on loads of cash currently, thanks to advice from a friend years ago, A.I. is getting about $1 million annually from a deal he signed with Reebok in 2001, with a $32 million fund coming his way on his 55th birthday.

    It might be awhile away, but that's something to look forward to.

Arnold Palmer

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Sure, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer still gets out there and participates in a few tournaments every once in awhile, but he's not at all considered to be an active player.

    Yet, Arnie still found himself ranking third on the highest-paid golfers list back in 2012, bringing in over $36 million from endorsements, and trailing just Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in overall money that year.

    Just like the aforementioned Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, it seems that golf is the sport that keeps on giving—for those who master it, of course.

Michael Jordan

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    Marc Lecureuil/Getty Images

    Although Michael Jordan hasn't played in a NBA game since 2003, that doesn't mean that he still isn't cashing some major checks.

    Even after a messy divorce from his first wife saw him lose $168 million, MJ didn't even blink an eye, replacing the money easily thanks to his endorsement deals.

    In fact, it was reported early last year that Jordan brings in close to $80 million a year from his Nike contract alone, meaning he's making close to what he earned during his entire playing career from salaries.

    It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the guy is a billionaire.

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