Famous American Athletes and Their Commercial Real Estate Activity

February 14th, 2014 by Alisa Sava

The value of the average house in the U.S. in December, 2013 was $169,100, according to real estate website Zillow.com. However, the houses of professional athletes are anything but average. Looking for sustainable income, more and more famous sport stars have jumped into real estate business and invest the lion’s share of their fortune in different types of property.

Famous American Athletes and Their Commercial Real Estate Activity

Famous American Athletes and Their Commercial Real Estate Activity

Long-term sports contracts, company sponsorships and generous earnings allow athletes to belong to a distinct economic bracket as home buyers, thus garnering them multi-million dollar homes.


Professional athletes have cash, and they like to spend it. In fact, the majority of professional sportsmen tend to purchase high-class homes with ample space to park multiple lavish cars, lock up their jewelry, clothes and even dock their yachts. As a result, their homes have extensive security systems to protect their private spas, pools, garages, bar and even their own private beaches. Moreover, today more athletes find themselves in the real estate business.

The Sport of Real Estate


Many retired athletes start looking for a sustainable career to turn to after retirement and their choice often leads to the commercial real estate business. They may invest in opportunities such as hotels and shopping centers in addition to private homes. This trend is the result of several factors. First of all, the leagues usually offer different types of workshops to help athletes make smart as well as lucrative business decisions.


Another reason is philanthropy: many athletes contribute to those towns and communities where they grew up. Mo Vaugh and Emmit Smith invest into low-income urban areas such as the city of Gillette, Wayoming and Pensacula, Florida. Moreover, the athletes’ competitive energy finds its release in real estate “with its brash personalities and public clashes.”

The Sport of Real Estate

The Sport of Real Estate

“When their playing days are over, athletes can’t just turn off that competitive energy. They need to channel it into different exercise,” says Mr. McDonnell, an associate professor at New York University.


Indeed, it makes sense that a number of former athletes have turned to real estate as the life of professional athlete has some commonalities with hat of a real estate agent such as strong competition, an uncertain future and both parties wanting to be in first place.


“Pro sports has done nothing but help prepare me for my real estate career. I’ve learned how to deal with all kinds of people and work under extreme pressure.” said Holly Rilinger, a former professional basketball point guard.


Searching for new investment partners, Hilton Worldwide Inc.also notes a surprising interest fromone particular group – former professional athletes. Thus, a retired American NBA basketball player David Robinson owns Hilton Hotel in Houston. Generally, African-American and Hispanic athletes are more often involved in development and construction activity: most of them carry influence that needed in order to build in difficult inner-cities’ markets.


Below, we decided to track the choices that famous American athletes have made in terms of their real estate. Some of them pick the places close to their training facilities or the stadiums where their sports take place. Others choose remote areas with beautiful panoramic views and landscape.

And the majority of them earn money on investing and reinvesting in their numerous real estate projects.


“Magic” Jonson

“Magic” Jonson


 Has a Magic Touch in Real Estate Business


The famous retired basketball player Earvin Johnson, commonly known as a “Magic” Jonson, has become one of the most powerful African-American businessman in America. Jonson has carried his athletic drive and determination into the business world.In 1987 hefounded his own company “Magic Jonson Enterprise” which promotes health, education and social needs for inner-city youth (such as organizing high-quality movie theaters) as well as operates with a dozen 24 Hour Fitness centers, more than 100 Starbucks locations in Los Angeles and across the country.


It’s hard to summarize the swath of Johnson’s businesses, as they range from food service to job placement and coffee. The company also has a private investment fund – $1 billion, which help the company expand, especially now when real estate can be bought at low prices. Thus, today Jonson is more than an entrepreneur or a former basketball player – he has developed a brand that operates in 85 cities and 21 states.


The main focus of Jonson’s activity is revitalization of outskirts city areas. His Canyon-Jonson Fund aims at re-developing of the urban areas and providing jobs and business opportunities for the locals.


“The viability of inner city neighborhoods and their surrounding metropolitan areas is a critical issue to building a strong America,” notes Earvin “Magic” Johnson


Jonson likes to be personally involved in all his businesses, so that customers know that he really supports what he is trying to sell or build. He also believes that he can be a role model for minorities in terms of doing business.


“What I’m trying to do is leave a legacy for… minority people. I’ve always considered myself more than just a basketball player,” – Magic Jonson.


In 2008 “Magic” Jonson wrote “32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business” where he shares what he has learned in the business world. In his business Jonson always follows the rule “stop trying to be everything to everybody:” pick up the right niche, do what you can do best and don’t stray. Jonson has faced a lot of difficulties on his path to successful businessmen, but they haven’t stopped him.


“You need to play to your strengths,” Jonson says. “My strength is urban America.”


Among “Magic” Jonson’s properties are Detroit’s State Fairgrounds, the Houston Pavilion, Everett and Federal Way malls.


David Robinson Has Moved to Venture Capital

David Maurice Robinson

David Maurice Robinson

David Maurice Robinson, a retired American NBA basketball player, is a co-founder of Admiral Capital Group created to combine an interest in private equity with a desire to make a positive social impact. Robinson’s company portfolio value is over $100 million and includes high-class hotels and office buildings across the U.S. as well as Centerplate, one of the largest food vending corporation, and Academy Sports+Outdoors, a premier sports, outdoor and lifestyle retailer with a broad assortment of quality hunting,

Former Footbal Star Emmitt Smith Has Launched His Own Real Estate Firm

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt James Smith, III first rose to prominence as a a member of the Dallas Cowboys and recipient of three Super Bowl championships. Today, real estate business has become his passion. Emmitt owns his own real estate company “E Smith Realty Partners.”The company is operating mainly in Dallas which now has one of the strongest commercial property markets in the country and increasing demand for industrial and office space. Smith’s determination and charisma help him dealing with the challenges the real estate business poses.


“Cutting my teeth on the real estate development business is something I did when I retired from football, Now We are not reinventing the wheel. We are relationship builders,” says Emmitt Smith in one of his interviwes.


Among “E Smith Realty Partners” properties are Pool Corp (Oklahoma City), the Final Company,(Dallas, Texas), Winzer Corporation (Plano, Texas), etc.


Michael Phelps Has Lost a Lion’s Share in Real Estate

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian(he won 18 Olympic gold medals), decided to explore real estate business. But, in this field he hasn’t even received a bronze. Phelps managed to sell his Baltimore condo, but he lost $ 400,000. The condo is located inside the Crescent At Fells Point. It has 4,080 square feet and features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the harbor and a small roof pavilion for hosting parties.


Having yet to make a splash in the real estate field, Michael Phelps decided to keep swimming. He is expected to join the 2016 Olympics.


Professional sport seems a lot like running a real estate brokerage. Free agents, coaching, prima donnas, trades, tough competition – that is what makes sport career similar to real estate vocation. That is why, it is not surprising that many professional athletes start working in this field after their career comes to an end.


Alisa Sava

Alisa Sava is an experienced journalist and translator of Spanish and English languages. She has studied in Spain and Poland. In her articles she is focusing on the financial analytics and real estate perspectives. She loves travelling and is passionate for Basque culture and baking.

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