While many of us are used to seeing major athletes as larger-than-life heroes with multi-million-dollar endorsement deals, many have a lot more going for them than pushing products and winning games. Indeed, there are far more athletes out there who take on other jobs either during or after their sports careers. Whether they’re doing it to make ends meet or just expressing their natural competitive spirits and drives in other areas, there are many athletes who have become successful outside the playing fields.
While 7-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams says, “Business and athletics really marry each other. I can only see similarities,” others take on alternate roles as a matter of practicality. After all as per the Orlando Magic’s C.J. Watson, who’s taken internships at companies like Google, “You never know with basketball — you can get hurt or get cut or something like that.”
Here are the stories of six of the most remarkable athletes with alternate careers!
Founder and CEO, EleVen, V Starr Interiors
Tennis superstar Venus Williams is the epitome of an internationally-successful, recognized athlete. Instead of coasting on endorsements and public appearances, Williams directed her energies in the off-season to creating her own line of athletic clothing, designed to bring out the best in its wearers. She is also the CEO of V Starr Interiors, a design company determined to challenge conventional ideas of interior design.
Founder, The Inspired Project
Though she’s made a name as a volleyball hero and TV personality, Gretchen Ho is the entrepreneur behind “The Inspired Project”, a line of inspirational graphic tees that she started with only PHP 300. From selling her clothes at a bazaar, her project to share the inspiring messages that came to her during training is now a thriving business that sells different types of apparel and merchandise.
Nicknamed the “Shot Diva”, Michelle Carter is an icon, both for her positive attitude and being Team USA’s first female member to win an Olympic Gold in shot put, as well as holder of the US record with a sensational 20.3 meter throw. But when she’s not winning glory for her country, Carter is a professional makeup artist and motivational speaker with her own beauty business. A firm believer in good looks contribute to good performance, Carter was impossible to miss at Rio: impeccably made up with cherry red lipstick, immaculately trimmed eyebrows, and enough bling to catch anyone’s eye, Carter was the very picture of winning in style.
Accountant, Ernst & Young
Amazingly, Jorgensen had never joined a triathlon in her life prior to being asked to participate at the Rio Olympics as a member of Team USA. Now recognized as one of the top triathletes on the planet, it’s hard to believe that this elite-level athlete is also a full-fledged accountant at Ernst & Young, one of the world’s largest firms.
CHI YIP CHEUNG
Fireman, Hong Kong Fire Services Department
At one point, Chi Yip Cheung was the best judoka in Hong Kong and a regional champ when he was selected to represent China at the 2012 Olympics. He still competes today, and hopes one day to be able to teach the sport. Amazingly, when he’s not training for international competitions as a professional martial artist, Cheung saves lives as a fulltime fireman, a career he wouldn’t trade for anything. Ironically, running into burning buildings is a better prospect than being an athlete – in an interview, Cheung said, “a fireman’s job…gives me a secure future which you cannot find in sport.”
Sales Account Manager, TWITTER
A member of the Colombian National Team for Rugby, Nathalie Marchino is an Olympian who makes her living as a sales account manager for Twitter. While many Olympians get by with part-time jobs, Marchino manages to balance training with her fulltime corporate responsibilities at one of the world’s most famous tech companies. As Marchino herself once told ESPN, “Juggling work and rugby has been part of my reality for so long that I’ve just accepted that it is that way.”