Pro Athletes Who Became Entrepreneurs

By Daniel Bukzspan, CNBC

The career of the professional athlete comes with an expiration date. At some point, it takes a little longer to round those bases. The points are scored less frequently. The knees ache sooner than they used to. It’s at that time that the athlete has to leave the field and find other pursuits. Unfortunately, many athletes don’t think this far ahead, and they have a hard time figuring out what to do with the next part of their lives.

Luckily, some athletes have planned ahead, and have found other professional avenues to pursue when they reach the ripe old age of 30. What follows is a list of 10 of them, some of whom left sports for good, and some of whom are still playing. But what they all have in common is that they started their own small businesses and found new success.

Rick Mirer

Rick Mirer was a quarterback for several NFL teams. He began his career with the Seattle Seahawks in 1993 and played for such teams as the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders, among others. He retired after an inactive season with the Detroit Lions in 2004. After football, he went into business with winemaker Rob Lawson and founded Mirror Wine Company in 2008. The Napa Valley, Calif.-based company has released five vintages of cabernet sauvignon and three vintages of its own Mirror Napa Valley sauvignon blanc.

Greg Norman

Greg “The Great White Shark” Norman is an Australian professional golfer who has won 91 professional events, including 20 U.S. PGA Tour titles, according to his official website. He has been the highest-ranked golfer in the world 11 times, including a 96-week period from June 18, 1995, through April 13, 1997. He is also the chairman and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, a multinational corporation whose subsidiaries include Greg Norman Eyewear, the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy and Great White Shark Golf Management, which offers management and consulting for those thinking of opening their own golf course.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams is one half of the dynamic duo of women’s tennis, with her sister Serena comprising the other. She has won two U.S. Open singles titles and five Wimbledon singles titles, in addition to multiple doubles titles with her sister. She is also CEO of V Starr Interiors, an interior design firm in Jupiter, Fla. The company’s residential clients include Bryant McKinnie of the Baltimore Ravens, and its commercial clients have included Tavis Smiley, whose television talk show set was designed by the firm.

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