From sports icons to business titans

When it comes to financial planning, some sports icons provide the best examples of how to plan, what to invest in, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Take four-time NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal, who became the king of franchises after he retired in 2011, and moved on to owning or having major investments in some 50 brands. “Shaq” also invested in about 150 car washes, forty 24-hour gyms, a movie theatre and his own restaurant chain, Big Chicken. His net worth is estimated to be roughly $400 Million – not too shabby for a man who says he once blew one million dollars in a day.

Another sporting legend who grew his business portfolio to impressive status following his retirement is former football superstar and England captain, David Beckham.

He created DB Ventures a year after he hung up his boots in 2013. The company manages most of his post-career activities, including his endorsements, such as his deal with Adidas. It also manages his whiskey brand, Haig Club. In 2022, he entered a strategic partnership with Authentic Brands Group, making it a co-owner and manager of his company. While the financial terms were not officially disclosed, it was widely reported at the time that the group secured a 55% stake in DB Ventures for about $269 million.  Beckham also continues to rake in millions through his stake in sports club Inter Miami, as well as other partnerships and investments. He and his wife, former Spice Girl, Victoria, co-own several businesses and together they have taken the Beckham brand to giddying heights.

Hockey phenom, Wayne Gretzky, is another sports icon who carved out a profitable niche in the world of business following his retirement from the ice in 1999. Aside from his many endorsement deals, “the Great One” invested in several sports teams as well as a sports equipment manufacturer. He also founded the lucrative Wayne Gretzky Estates, a successful winery and distillery. He eventually built up an empire worth an estimated $250 million.

With vast wealth to channel into investments and access to top tier financial advisors, it makes sense that some retired sports icons should set their sights on winning big in the world of business. Perhaps that’s why, in more recent times, all eyes are on sprint king, Usain Bolt.

After hanging up his spikes in 2017, the 100 and 200 metre world record holder partnered with American outsourcing company Startek in 2018 to develop a new BPO centre in Half Way Tree, Kingston. At the time, it was set to employ some 1,200 Jamaicans. Then in 2021, he began construction on another BPO facility, this time on Hope Road, Kingston.

Several financial tracking sites estimate Bolt’s net worth as up to $90 million, backed by several lucrative endorsements with major brands like Puma, Visa, and Gatorade being key to his fortune. His business portfolio also includes shaving company, Champion Shave, and restaurant chain, Tracks & Records.

With the ability to invest in projects and industries the world over, Bolt’s foray into Jamaica’s BPO sector speaks volumes for its viability, maturity, and the immense opportunity to rack up considerable business wins.

In fact, the country is already home to companies such as Conduent, Sagility, and IBEX, that service some of the top Fortune 50 businesses. With over 60 companies currently in operation, employing over 60,000 people, the country has the largest BPO sector in the English-speaking Caribbean. Special Economic Zone (SEZ) incentives allow for duty concessions and reduced corporate income taxes, while continuous investments in telecoms and electricity infrastructure ensure stable power and broadband capabilities. The government’s significant investment in the training and development of the workforce, also ensures there is a robust pipeline of adaptable and trainable talent to drive the sector.

Bolt’s presence in Jamaica’s BPO sector is the ultimate green flag for businesses and investors looking to enter the space. His successes in the sector will no doubt provide more lessons on how to win big in business.

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