The (Second-) Richest NBA Player Ever Got Rich Off Burgers, Not Basketball
Junior Bridgeman's stint in the NBA should have been the high point of his life, based on how biographies usually go. He spent 12 years in the league. He played over 700 games with the Milwaukee Bucks (a record) and 849 games total, averaging 13.6 points per game.
That was all very impressive, but in 1987, his basketball career came to an end. His salary for his final year was $350,000—he'd made a few million total, but that wasn't enough to live in luxury for the rest of his life. He could probably make some more money capitalizing on his fame. Instead, he walked into a restaurant in Milwaukee and offered to buy it.
The manager said, "Sir, this is a Wendy's." Bridgeman replied, "Yeah, I know"—when he wasn't playing basketball, he'd spent the last few years studying the Wendy's franchise system. He bought this Wendy's restaurant, then he bought four more. He made good money off them, which isn't always the case for franchisees, so we have to assume he ran them well.
He bought Chili's franchises too. He expanded from there, and at its peak, Bridgeman Foods Inc. owned over 450 restaurants. Then in 2016, he sold all of them ... and sank the proceeds into an even more profitable endeavor: bottling Coca-Cola. Five years later, Junior Bridgeman is worth $600 million.
That makes him the second-richest ex-NBA player (neck and neck with Magic Johnson, depending on whose stocks are up today). The first, of course, is Michael Jordan, worth over $2 billion.
And yet even including Jordan, and the famously successful Tiger Woods, Bridgman is roughly the seventh-richest athlete of any kind. That's even including billionaire Vince McMahon (who did wrestle, though he's known more for running the whole wrestling industry) and including one billionaire Danish heiress, who counts as an athlete because she rides dressage horses.
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Top image: Calgary Reviews