If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a huge interest in figuring out what pro athletes—both active and retired—have earned over the course of their lives because, well, it’s always an insane amount of money that neither you nor I will probably ever see.
Lucky for us, Forbes released figures for the top-10 earning retired athletes from 2015 and the list actually has some serious surprises on it of players who many fans wouldn’t think would even crack the top-50.
- Michael Jordan – $110 million
- David Beckham – $65 million
- Arnold Palmer – $40 million
- Junior Bridgeman – $32 million
- Jerry Richardson – $30 million
- Jack Nicklaus – $26 million
- Shaquille O’Neal – $22 million
- Roger Penske – $20 million
- Gary Player – $19 million
- Magic Johnson – $18 million
While names like Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Shaquille O’Neal are obvious, I would’ve bet my life savings that Arnold Palmer would’ve never made $40 million and would be third on the list.
Other surprises are Junior Bridgeman—who’s a former 12-year NBA role player—but has a net worth of $400 million thanks to his franchising over 100 Wendy’s restaurants, and Jerry Richardson, who is the current owner of the Carolina Panthers and a former NFL receiver who played in just 22 career games.
Like Arnie, neither one of them would have even crossed my mind to land so high on this list, above people like the aforementioned Shaq and another former baller, Magic Johnson—who has enjoyed a budding entrepreneurial career.
Other notable names off the list are people like Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretzky and Pele, who have all built mega-brands for themselves, yet, surprisingly, still aren’t one of the 10 richest retired players on the planet.
As for MJ and Beckham, well, Jordan recently cracked the $1 billion mark in net worth thanks to his lucrative Jordan Brand—which brings in estimated annual sales of $2.5 billion to Nike—and Beckham is part of the ownership group of the MLS team in Miami that is set to begin play once their stadium financing is confirmed.
So, while current players collect millions in contracts and negotiations each and every year, the list of the highest-earning retired players show that they’re just like fine wine, getting better—and richer—with age.