These Are The Richest Retired Athletes Today

The competitive sports industry is worth around $500 billion, and it never fails to make our favorite all-star athletes rich beyond comparison. While many professional leagues have instituted salary caps, many top athletes manage to get even richer in their retirement from the game. 

And that’s no easy feat! According to CNBC, around 78% of former NFL players actually get into financial trouble after retiring. And for NBA players, 60% go broke within 5 years after they leave the league! On this list, you’ll see the opposite of that distressing trend: the richest retired athletes.

Shaquille O’Neal

Retired: 2011
Career Earnings: $700 million*
Est. Net Worth: $400 million*

Shaquille O'Neal @GuysLastTeam | @AM570LASports / Twitter.comShaquille O'Neal @GuysLastTeam | @AM570LASports /

Shaq is easily one of the most famous basketball players of all time, and he has had a busy career during retirement. He went back and got his bachelor’s degree (majoring in general studies with a political science minor), keeping a promise he made to his mother. He also became a sheriff’s deputy.

Shaq attended the Sheriff’s Reserve Academy, and he was sworn in as a Miami Beach reserve officer. Shaq moved to Georgia in 2016, and he was sworn in as a deputy in Jonesboro. He holds the record in Clayton County, Georgia, for being the tallest deputy ever (Shaq is 7’1”).


Arnold Palmer

Retired: 2006
Career Earnings: $875 million*
Est. Net Worth: $875 million*

Arnold Palmer 2006 @TheGolfDivoTee | @GolfCentral / Twitter.comArnold Palmer 2006 @TheGolfDivoTee | @GolfCentral /

Arnold Palmer (along with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus) were nicknamed “The Big Three” in the 1960s, Palmer and his fellow golfers helped to popularize the sport in America. Palmer’s humble beginnings and plain-spoken demeanor changed the perception of golf as something that was accessible to the working class.

After Palmer retired, he continued to make money from endorsements. He also bought several Cadillac car dealerships in multiple states. He even bought a dealership in his hometown, Latrobe, which recently closed in 2017. Additionally, Palmer inked a deal for a drink to be named after him: the refreshingly delicious half iced-tea, half-lemonade.


Wayne Gretzky

Retired: 1999
Career Earnings: $46.1 million*
Est. Net Worth: $250 million*

Wayne Gretzky 1999 @espn / | @USA TODAY Sports / Youtube.comWayne Gretzky 1999 @espn / | @USA TODAY Sports /

Wayne Gretzky is one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He was so groundbreaking that he has three awards named after him: the Wayne Gretzky International Award, the Wayne Gretzky Trophy, and the Wayne Gretzky ‘99 Award. Gretzky, after his career, continued his endorsements of brands like Coca-Cola, 989 Sports, Domino’s Pizza, Upper Deck, and Sharp Corporation.

He used his celebrity to his advantage, appearing on TV shows like Dance Fever and ProStars. He even guest hosted Saturday Night Live once. Currently, he spends most of his time writing. In addition to his autobiography, he also wrote an in-depth biography of the history of the sport of hockey. 


Roger Staubach

Retired: 1979
Career Earnings: $500,000*
Est. Net Worth: $600 million*

Roger Staubach 1979 @TXSportsHistory | @MyTweetCharity / Twitter.comRoger Staubach 1979 @TXSportsHistory | @MyTweetCharity /

Roger Staubach was a famous quarterback in the NFL, and his money from his career salary, as well as his endorsements from companies like Rolaid, made him a very rich man. After he retired, he went on to make hundreds of millions in a career in real estate, a profession in which he still participates.

Staubach started his own real estate business in 1977. Before that, he trained in real estate during the off-season with the Henry S. Miller Company for seven years. He said he got into real estate because he was “37 with three kids” and couldn’t “retire at [his] age.”

Danica Patrick

Retired: 2018
Career Earnings: $50 million*
Est. Net Worth: $60 million*

Danica Patrick @zdravkost / | @DanicaPatrick / Facebook.comDanica Patrick @zdravkost / | @DanicaPatrick /

It’s not often that female racing drivers get the recognition they deserve. Danica Patrick had the ability to blow her competitors out of the water as the most successful woman in the history of her sport. She began her professional IndyCar career in 2005, going on to be named Rookie of the Year. 

Although Danica was sponsored by many big companies over the years, it was web hosting company GoDaddy that had the privilege of sponsoring her for the last two races. Patrick retired in 2018, having amassed a fortune of $60 million thanks to prize money and lucrative deals.