An athlete’s career is short. The typical NFL player’s career is over in three years and most NHL players never play more than 100 games. Even more startling is 78% of NFL players are nearly bankrupt within two years of retiring and 60% of NBA players are usually bankrupt within five.
Since athletes have a shortened money-making career in sports, many have turned to the car business. Owning a dealership involves a massive investment up-front, but can be significantly beneficial long term. Think about it, everyone needs a car. These are the current and former athletes that own car dealerships.
- Alex Rodriguez
- John Elway
- Karl Malone
- Mike Piazza
- Michael Jordan
- Arnold Palmer
- Jimmy Vasser
- Brad Benson
- Darrell Waltrip
- Paul Coffey
- Terry Labonte
- Dale Earnhardt
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jamal Mashburn
- Ron Bouchard
- Mike Pruitt
Alex Rodriguez Mercedes-Benz
Yankee ball player Alex Rodriguez owns half of Alex Rodriguez Mercedes-Benz in suburban Houston. He bought it in 2004 and stated the Mercedes store, “is going to be the cornerstone of my professional future.” Despite the controversy around his alleged use of steroids, the dealership doesn’t plan on changing their name.
John Elway Dealerships
John Elway Dealerships is the holding company owned by the legendary John Elway, obviously, that has three separate dealerships, all located near Denver, and the John Elway Credit Center. The three dealerships are John Elway Chevrolet on Broadway, John Elway Chevrolet on Colorado Blvd. and John Elway Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. They all have the Elway Promise which is their “promise that everything we do will be about taking care of you, our guest.
Karl Malone Toyota
Former NBA superstar for the Utah Jazz, Karl “The Mailman” Malone, owns Malone Toyota Scion in Draper, Utah and Karl Malone Used Car Outlet in Sandy, Utah. He also owns a car accessories company in Sandy and three oil change shops according to this Yahoo! article.
Mike Piazza Auto Group
The former MLB catcher, Mike Piazza, who spent the majority of his career with the Mets owns a number of dealerships in his home-state of Pennsylvania. He owns three Acura dealers, five Honda stores, and one store each for Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen. Not to be outdone by the John Elway Promise, shoppers at any of Piazza’s stores have the Piazza Advantage Program.
Michael Jordan Nissan
The greatest basketball player ever got into the car business back in 1990. MJ and two partners bought the Nissan dealerships in Durham, North Carolina. Since the purchase, Jordan has continued adding assets to his portfolio including restaurants, the Charlotte Bobcats, a motorcycle racing team and the Jordan Brand.
Arnold Palmer Motors
Arnold Palmer of golf fame, not the iced tea as many people might suspect, also owns Arnold Palmer Motors, a dealership selling Buick and Cadillac in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. While the average professional golf career extends far beyond the average NFL or NHL career, this still hasn’t stopped one of the PGA Tour’s best. And it makes sense that Palmer would own Cadillac store because during his playing days, he was a spokesman for Cadillac. See here.
Jimmy Vasser Toyota & Chevrolet
1996 IndyCar champ Jimmy Vasser is the owner of KV Racing Technology and two dealerships in Napa, California – Jimmy Vasser Chevrolet and Jimmy Vasser Toyota. Wisely, Vasser leverages his race team’s drivers, Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro, at dealership events to bring in race fans and press.
Brad Benson Auto Group
Brad Benson was an offensive lineman on the New York Football Giants for 12 seasons and helped the team win a Super Bowl in 1986. He is also the owner of Brad Benson Auto Group which has a Hyundai and Mitsubishi store in New Jersey. While most offensive lineman tend to shy away from the limelight, Benson is pretty notorious for his radio spots and has been called the “greatest ad wizard since Don Draper.”
Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group
Ex-NASCAR driver Darell Waltrip has 84 Winston Cup Series wins, three championships and is currently the lead racing analyst for FOX. He is also the owner of Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group which has a Subaru, Honda and Volvo store in Franklin, Tennessee. The DW Group also boasts over 6,000 used cars for sale. According to their website, the family of DW dealers will be expanding to include a Buick and GMC franchise later this year. These dealerships are apart of the Hendrick Auto Group.
Paul Coffey Auto Group
Paul Coffey was a defensive NHL player known as one of the best and fastest skaters of all time. After his 21-year career, he opened two dealerships, Bolton Toyota and Bolton Kia, with his business partner in Bolton, Ontario near his hometown of Weston.
Ex-NASCAR driver Terry Labonte co-owns Terry Labonte Chevrolet/RV with his former race team owner Rick Hendrick. Labonte had success in the Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup), racking up 22 wins and two championships. Fun fact, his brother Bobby Labonte who also won a championship doesn’t own a car dealership, but does he own Bobby’s Red Mango, a frozen yogurt franchise.
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Chevrolet
One of NASCAR’s greatest driver, if not the greatest, was seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. And he loved Chevrolet. According to his biography on Earnhardt Chevrolet, Dale, Sr. first fell in love with the bowtie after his father, Ralph, bought a 302 small block from a local Chevrolet dealer for his race car. Earnhardt’s first off-track business venture was his Chevrolet dealership in Newton, North Carolina. The dealership also sells their own line of Chevys called The Earnhardt Series.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet
In Tallahasee, Florida you can find the dealership owned by NASCAR’s most popular driver since 2003, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Like his dad and grandad, Dale races a Chevrolet so it’s only fitting he has a Chevrolet dealership in his name. He also has a Buick, GMC and Cadillac store on the west side of the city. Dale Jr.’s stores are apart of the Hendrick Auto Group like Terry Labonte and Darrell Waltrip.
Jamal Mashburn was a good NBA basketball player, but it would appear he’s a better entrepreneur. Not only does he own two dealerships in Kentucky, Toyota on Nicholasville and Lexus Store of Lexington, he also owns 28 Outback Steakhouses, 32 Papa John’s pizza restaurants and three Dunkin Donuts franchises.
Ron Bouchard Auto Stores
NASCAR’s 1981 rookie of the year was Ron Bouchard. After his short lived racing career ended in 1987, he began a second, and longer career, as a car dealer. The Ron Bouchard Auto Stores portfolio includes a preowned store, an Acura store, a Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store, a Honda store and a Kia and Nissan store. They are all located in either Bouchard’s hometown of Fitchburg, Massachusetts or nearby cities Auburn and Lancaster.
Chicago native and former NFL running back Mike Pruitt spent the majority of his career in Midwest while playing for the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. Albeit, he did play one season for the Buffalo Bills. After his career, Pruitt stuck around the Midwest and opened Mike Pruitt Honda in Akron, Ohio.
Written by Max Katsarelas