Most of the time, we hear stories about players going broke because they didn't know how to manage their finances and didn't get the right advice to take care of their money. Well, it's great to see that other players did well with the money they earned during their active days and didn't waste it on parties, women and making bad financial decisions.
We see the cases of Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, players who took care and are taking care of themselves and their families and thinking beyond their NBA career.
There was a player that did the exact same thing, even though he wasn't a star and didn't earn a lot of money as Jordan, James and Curry do. These are the type of stories that not a lot of people know but are very inspirational and tell you that there is more beyond the NBA. Ulysses Bridgeman is the prime sample that talent can take you very far but education can do a lot more for you.
Joe Pompliano of readhuddleup.com recently wrote a thread on Twitter telling the story of Bridgeman and how he turned a $360K salary into a net worth of $600 million. Bridgeman wasn't that known in NBA circles except maybe for the fact that he was part of the players the Los Angeles Lakers sent to Milwaukee in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, he was a winner like Kareem off the court, as Pompliano explains.
From a financial perspective, NBA paychecks weren’t what they are today. The majority of athletes made more money off endorsements than they did through their contract. As a role player, Bridgeman earned no more than $350,000 in a single season.
To prepare for life after basketball, Bridgeman spent his offseason working the drive-through at a local Wendy’s to learn more about the fast food business. By the time he entered retirement, Bridgeman already owned 3 Wendy's franchises. After seeing success, Bridgeman doubled down investing in over 160 locations over the next 20+ years.
He also invested in Chili’s, owning more than 120 at one point. Bridgeman built a portfolio of 360 restaurants in 16 states but set his sights on a bigger opportunity.
In 2016, as part of a bottling and distribution deal with The Coca Cola Company, Bridgeman agreed to sell off his Wendy’s and Chili’s franchise locations. The agreement with Coca Cola granted Bridgeman exclusive operations in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Nebraska.
The Coca Cola deal was a dream for Bridgeman, who had been fascinated with the brand since his playing days and later went on to purchase additional bottling rights within Canada. All in, Bridgeman has built up an estimated net worth of $600M+ - Not bad for a role player.
Well, it looks like he did very well in life. He went to the NBA, and although he didn't make the headlines for his performances on the court, Bridgeman made sure to study and see what he could do after his basketball career was over. You can tell he was just fine. Not anybody can brag they have a net worth of $600. That, for me, it's what they call success.