14 Black Entertainers And Athletes Who Invest And Are Smart With Their Money
One trait you see with wealth builders is that when they take large and more speculative risks, they have the ability to use the money of others to fund their Moguldom. They have minimal personal downside but massive upside potential if the business is a success. Another trait that we have seen over and over again in people living the Moguldom life is that they are well-diversified with multiple income streams.
Here are 14 Black entertainers and athletes who invest, are smart with their money and embody Moguldom.
Many famous singers have lost their fortunes with drugs, bad investments, divorces, and not being able to adapt to industry and consumer changes. For many talented artists, their talent had a short expiration date and they were not able to adapt and keep the train going for decades. Beyonce is that woman who has been bulletproof for almost two decades. The Beyonce stock keeps climbing year after year. Traits we see with her are her work ethic and not taking her talent for granted.
Another trait we see with Beyonce is knowing how to “cut the heads off” when folks are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. Successful business people often have a reputation for being “cold” or “ruthless” because they know how to weed out the emotional noise when making hard business decisions.
When Beyonce felt her father was getting in the way of her going to the next level, she fired him. When you allow unproductive or people who may not be the right fit for you at a particular stage of success, it can metastasize and spread to the point your whole career could go down the toilet. You see this trait with her husband, Jay-Z, who had to cut some folks who wouldn’t let the “Hood way” go within an increasingly complex corporate music industry environment. You will find some people will never go beyond “sagging their pants” mentally and consistently put on a suit and tie mentally.
Successful moguls like Beyonce have shown they can deal with anyone who doesn’t want to “pull their pants up” mentally and act like competent professional adults who are able to support her in reaching the next level. Moguls like Jay-Z and Beyonce know how to fire folks who are standing in the way of their Moguldom goals and people who don’t understand the show and money is in them and everyone else is riding on their wave.
When Beyonce felt her father was getting in the way of her going to the next level, she fired him. When you allow unproductive or people who may not be the right fit for you at a particular stage of success, it can metastasize and spread to the point where your whole career could go down the toilet. You see this trait with her husband, Jay-Z, who had to cut some folks who wouldn’t let the “hood way” go within an increasingly complex corporate music industry environment.
You will find some people will never go beyond “sagging-their-pants” mentally and consistently put on a suit and tie mentally. Successful moguls like Beyonce have shown they can deal with anyone who doesn’t want to “pull their pants up” mentally and act like competent professional adults who are able to support them in reaching the next level. Moguls like Jay-Z and Beyonce know how to fire folks who are standing in the way of their Moguldom goals — people who don’t understand the show and money is in them and everyone else is riding on their wave.
Currently, Beyonce is actively investing in start-ups such as Sidestep, an app for buying concert merchandise and skipping the line to pick it up at the show. Beyonce also invested in WTRMLN, a watermelon beverage company, as well as vegan food company 22 Day Nutrition.
Although some people attacked Kendrick Lamar for buying his sister a Toyota Camry, essentially calling him cheap, Lamar knows one of the best traits of Moguldom is being frugal.
Many of the people attacking Lamar on Twitter didn’t know that most millionaires don’t buy new fancy cars, they buy used cars that are at least 2 years old when the depreciation of the value slows down and there is better value.
Kendrick Lamar has previously rapped about smart personal finance advice:
“Invest in your future, don’t dilute your finances, 401k, make sure it’s low risk, then get some real estate, 4.25% thirty-year mortgage.” (Kendrick Lamar, “YOLO”)
“If you get your first big check and you cop a chain before you buy a house. You’re a vanity slave.” Vanity Slave.
Lamar has talked about not really being into expensive cars and jewelry:
“I’m most comfortable when I’m Plain Jane in my Nike Cortez and my white tees,” the Compton-raised 26-year-old says. “That’s who I am and the era I came from. I always have to remind myself of that. I thought I wanted jewelry and cars, but as soon as I got a taste, I realized it wasn’t fulfillment. A thrill is being as creative as possible and supporting the people I love.”
According to Black Enterprise, Lamar purchased a four-bedroom real estate investment for $523,000 in Eastvale, California.
Beyond music and touring, Lamar is increasingly popular with brand sponsorships such as Reebok. Forbes estimated his payday in 2015 was $9 million after telling Forbes “All money ain’t good money” in 2013. Lamar’s career earnings are estimated to be over $30 million.
We all know Kevin Durant is a humble “Mama’s Boy” and NBA champion but what everyone doesn’t know is that he’s an active investor. Durant invested in an investing app that allows users to keep up with their daily purchases and automatically invest the leftover change into a low-cost, exchange-traded fund, according to the Undefeated.
Durant also invested in the Series D round of delivery app Postmates when it was worth $80 million in 2015. Postmates had a valuation of $600 million on its last round which should put Durant up 7X his original investment. Durant has also invested in Zenreach.
Businesses that use Zenreach can offer their customers free Wi-Fi.
One Moguldom trait you see in Durant is he doesn’t care what people think and is willing to switch teams and leave his situation to go in a better position and accomplish his goals. Sometimes in life you will feel “stuck” and like you can’t get to the next level in the current environment, with the current team, the current coach, etc. Leaders who embrace change and are able to make good personal and business decisions on when change is needed have the killer instinct and guts to go to the next level. The old adage is true “no guts no glory”. It’s not a surprise that Durant was the MVP in the 2017 NBA Finals.
Durant also doesn’t stray too far away from his faith as a Christian, which keeps him balanced and humble. In an interview with Beliefnet, he was asked:
People always talk about how down-to-earth you are … What’s your secret to staying humble in a world where it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype of fortune and fame?
Durant: “It’s tough man. I can’t lie. I can’t lie about that. But I always kind of pinch myself and say that any day this can be gone. In the Bible, (it says) the Lord exalts humility and that’s one thing I try to be all the time—when I’m talking in front of people or when people tell me I’m great, I (remind myself that I) can always be better. I always work on what I have now. I’ve just got to be thankful to the Lord for what the gifts He’s given me. My gift back to Him is to always be humble and to always try to work as hard as I can. I’ve got to continue to be that way. I know that if I try to get a big head, my mom is going to do a great job of bringing me back down to size. I have the best of both worlds with the coaches we have here and my parents and my family doing it back at home. I’m in pretty good hands.”
Some successful leaders make their biggest mistakes based on their ego and overconfidence but Durant’s spiritual connection has helped him stay humble, be a team player, and grow his wealth.
Jay-Z has invested in his own clothing line, his own restaurant/bar (40/40), Uber, alcohol brand Armand de Brignac, the uber for private jets (Jetsmarter), his own talent agency (Roc Nation) and now his own streaming service (Tidal). This expanding diversified portfolio of businesses is complimented by having reputable money managers run his money in investments in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
I don’t buy out the bar, I bought the nightspot
I got the right stock, I got
Stockbrokers that’s movin’ it like white tops
— Lyrics from Jay-Z “30 Something“
While Jay-Z gets a lot of credit for his creative genius, his CEO-entrepreneur-investor game is arguably just as good. Jay-Z invested $50 million to acquire Tidal with the hopes of flipping it for a billion-dollar exit. Although things started out slow with the music streaming service going through four CEOs in a few years, it is now one of the most popular apps in the iTunes store. Sprint took a $200,000 stake in Tidal, valuing it at $600 million. Based on the success of the “4:44” album, Moguldom believes the platform is valued at over $1 billion. Jay-Z could very well be a billionaire right now based on an estimated valuation of Tidal at $1 billion with his stake being over 50 percent. Similar to Oprah, you see folks getting their Moguldom on by investing in companies and using their brand to turn it around and grow it.
Jay-Z’s investment and business execution hit-rate is so high, he must be feeling confident enough to launch two different venture capital firms.
According to Moguldom’s prior report, Arrive will focus on promising start-ups:
Jay Z has announced a new venture capital firm, Arrive, that will focus on nurturing promising startups.
The investment platform will work with early-stage startups and offer investment of capital as well as assistance with business development, branding and more to help those select companies flourish, the official announcement said.
In addition to venture capital, Jay-Z has bragged about watching his investment in fine art increase in value more than eight times since he originally bought it. Some Black people call him “bougie.” Derived from the word “bourgeois,” it’s a term for someone “aspiring to be a higher class than one is,” according to Urban Dictionary.
Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine
But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99
— Lyrics from Jay-Z “4:44”
One report has estimated that Lebron is already worth $400 million. Everyone knows about Lebron’s endorsement deals with Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Samsung, McDonald’s, and Microsoft as well as his record-breaking sports contracts, but Lebron is getting his moguldom on beyond the business of basketball. Lebron reportedly invested in Beats Electronics before it was sold to Apple, netting him a cool $30 million. In addition to getting his feet wet on his first successful sizeable investment return in a company, Lebron has picked the brains of some of the smartest moguls in business. He reportedly had dinner with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer to share business ideas.
You see this over and over again where successful millionaires are comfortable and confident enough to go try to learn from others and seek out advice from those who may have more knowledge than they do in a particular area. It is no big surprise that Lebron already made $35 million in a pizza start-up:
LeBron James invested in Blaze Pizza in 2012 and now Blaze has become the fastest-growing food chain in the US of all-time.
Classic James move, if you ask me. He started by opening two of his own Blaze restaurants in Chicago and Miami in 2012, and by 2015 he wanted all in with the pizza chain. His now original investment of $1 million has turned into $35 million and growing. James must have really loved his Blaze Pizza to leave his deal with global empire McDonald’s for an unknown pizza company.
In addition to Blaze Pizza, Lebron has a growing media empire with $15 million backing from Time Warner’s Warner Bros. division. Uninterrupted is James’ multimedia network for sports lifestyle content. Its purpose is to give pro athletes a place online for their video and social media content—whether that place is YouTube, blogs, TV, or film.
One trait you see with wealth builders is that when they take large and more speculative risks, they have the ability to use the money of others to fund their Moguldom. They have minimal personal downside but massive upside potential if the business is a success. Lebron has another trait that we have seen over and over again: He is well-diversified with multiple income streams.
Kevin Hart. Photo: www.bet.com
Kevin Hart has been called the most successful and productive comedian in the world. What Hart doesn’t have in height, he has made up for with his wallet and his 34 million Twitter fans. Some reports have estimated the hard-working comedian’s net worth at $100 million. Most recently, Hart launched his own version of Netflix named Laughing Out Loud in partnership Lions Gate featuring original content from him, his affiliate comedians, and third-party licensed content. The app will charge $3 per month for ad-free viewing with some insiders saying it already has over 100,000 subscribers.
Hart described his acumen for investing in himself to the Hollywood Reporter:
“I invest in myself. I spent $750,000 on (the 2011) Laugh at My Pain (tour), and it did $15 million. I spent $2.5 million on Let Me Explain, and it did $32 million. I’m about to spend maybe $4 million on this next one (What Next?), and the goal is to get to $100 million.”
One Moguldom trait that Hart has is that as his wealth increases, he doesn’t sit back, slow down, or retire. He is smartly investing in himself and diversifying his businesses and revenue streams to go beyond TV and film. Hart has invested in a disruptive underwear company called Tommy John.
Originally launched in 2008, Tommy John says it works to solve the real problems and discomfort men face with their undergarments through innovative fabric, fit and functionality of design. A long-time fan of the brand, Hart approached Tom Patterson, founder and CEO of Tommy John, looking to invest in the brand and possibly collaborate on an edited collection.
“I wanted to be something more than just another celebrity endorser,” Hart said in a press release announcing the venture. “There’s something so much more authentic about investing in the brands that you love – brands that you wear, instead of getting paid to. I love this underwear…Tommy John is disrupting, innovating and marketing underwear in a far more genuine and relatable way than the world has ever seen.”
The leaked Sony emails revealed that Kevin Hart had negotiated a deal for the Hollywood studio to pay him $2 million for tweeting about two films. The studio had wanted him to promote the film for free and got mad at the comedian for understanding his value and refusing to be exploited. Hart responded to the Sony leaked emails this way:
‘I worked very hard to get where I am today. I look at myself as a brand and because of that I will never allow myself to be taking advantage of. ‘I OWN MY BRAND…I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND….I PROTECT MY BRAND….which is why I’m able to brush ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward.
The “Queen of Media” reportedly has a net worth $3.1 billion according to Forbes. Oprah grew her fortune by working extremely hard, not listening to others who told her she was “too dark” or “too big” to be successful on TV with a mainstream audience, investing and believing in herself and her capabilities, and hiring competent and highly experienced management. An example of Oprah’s investment prowess is her investment in Weight Watchers International, acquiring a 10 percent stake of the company when the company was trading at $6 a share. It now trades at $47. Oprah’s stake in the company has grown from $40 million to $220 million.
When you get to a net worth of $3 billion, do you think Oprah uses financial advisors from JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs? Oprah is too smart and her wallet is too big to give away all the fees to financial advisors and not get specialized service fitting a billionaire. Oprah has what is called a “family office.”
Here is the definition of a family office:
Family offices are private wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth investors. They are different from traditional wealth management shops in that they offer a total outsourced solution to managing the financial and investment side of an affluent individual or family.
Oprah has her own Goldman Sachs and her own CEO running her money, negotiating fees, trading, investing, and making sure she has a well-diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, real estate, and private equity investments. Oprah effectively has her own hedge fund that reports directly to her. While many folks look down on HBCUs ( historically black colleges and universities), the fact is mainstream schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and Wharton haven’t produced a Black mogul with a bigger wallet than the Queen who graduated from Tennessee State University.
If you’re looking for the stereotypical basketball player who has five baby mamas with extensive child support payments, tax problems, and cousin Leroy managing their money, Kobe Bryant is not that guy. With an estimated fortune of $350 million according to Forbes, Kobe has proven that he has an investor’s mind and won’t be taken advantage of by seedy businesses managers with a promiscuous amount of conflicts of interests. Kobe is not stopping with a $350 million fortune. He is now becoming a venture capitalist:
“Playing basketball, the focus is always on winning. Winning championships, winning championships, winning championships. Now, championships come and go. There’s going to be another team that wins another championship, another player that wins another MVP award,” Bryant told CNBC’s Squawk on the Street:
“But if you really want to create something that lasts generations, you have to help inspire the next generation, and they create something great, and then that generation will inspire the one behind them, right? And that’s when you create something forever. And that’s what’s most beautiful,” he said.
One aspect of the moguls on our list is they partner with folks who have extensive experience when entering new and interesting markets like venture capital. Kobe has partnered with Jeff Stibel, a longtime entrepreneur and investor who was introduced to Mr. Bryant by a mutual friend, according to the WSJ.
The two have been invested in 15 companies since 2013, but only after Mr. Bryant’s retirement from basketball have they decided to formalize their relationship and fund. The two men are contributing the $100 million—which they expect to invest over the next few years—and aren’t seeking outside investors yet. Current investments include sports media website The Players Tribune, video game designer Scopely, legal-services company LegalZoom, a telemarketing-software firm called RingDNA and a home-juicing company called Juicero.
Apparently, Kobe’s work ethic is not limited to basketball.
Here’s some insight on Kobe from venture capital legend Sacca, who mentored him on VC from the Bill Simmons Podcast:
So I said, “Look, if you’re serious about this, then prove it to me.” I said, “I’m going to send you a bunch of stuff that you should read, a bunch of TED Talks and other videos you should watch, and if you do your homework then I’ll talk to you about investing.” It was funny because I didn’t think he was going to do it. I thought it was kind of a nice way to let him off easy. So, sure enough, for the next few months my phone never stops buzzing in the middle of the night. It’s Kobe, reading this article, checking out this tweet, following this guy, diving into this Ted Talk, diving into the Y Combinator Demo Day stuff. And I’m getting these texts, literally two or three in the morning, and my wife is like, “Are you having an affair with Kobe Bryant? What is happening here?”
It was just at all hours, and the guy was serious! He was bringing the same obsessive work ethic to learning about startups that he does to training, to rehab, to his thousand makes a day, to everything. I was fascinated by it. So I ended up becoming really enthralled by him because this is a very unique personality type that I only kind of see in some of our very best entrepreneurs.
What five-time Pro Bowl football player has generated $50 million in contract revenue, retired early, reportedly spent very little of it, and still drives an ‘86 Honda Civic? Lynch has explained his frugality this way in Sports Illustrated:
What does wealth mean to you, then?
“You’ve gotta understand where I came from, Baby Dawg. Money wasn’t s—. It was the love and respect that I had for my family and for my peers (that mattered). . . . Let’s say I went and got all that wealth—and then I had none of my family, none of my friends, none of my peers to enjoy that with. What would it have been (for)?
Before retiring, Lynch built a reputation of being financially savvy and reportedly helped his teammates with their 401K accounts. Lynch also partnered with Hingeto, a tech startup with a Black founder to crowdfund his own limited-edition line of Beast Mode bomber jackets
You probably heard of Magic Johnson investing in an insurance business, Starbucks stores, real estate, movie theatres, restaurants, and even sports teams. Magic recently announced an investment in NYC’s LaGuardia Airport. Yes, the guy will own part of LGA airport, according to CNN:
Magic Johnson Enterprises teamed up with Loop Capital Markets LLC and its CEO Jim Reynolds to become equity investors in LaGuardia Gateway Partners. They will design, build and maintain the airport as part of a 35-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Johnson has repeatedly expressed interest in investing in an infrastructure project, and created the JLC Infrastructure Fund with Reynolds.
Magic has carved out a niche where he is often called on when big investors need a reliable minority name with a solid track record on the project bid proposal. You saw this model when Jay-Z was called on to be part of a Barclays real estate development deal and big approvals from the local community and city were sought.
They get branding, capital, community authenticity, and sometimes favorable treatment as they seek bids on projects or a corporation may want to enter the community with a strong community brand attached to the venture. Magic’s focus on family, community and finding reputable partners have all helped him but the biggest characteristic we see with Magic’s success is becoming a leader and trailblazing his own path when basketball was over.
Magic had the confidence and determination to do his own thing and carve out a corporate partnership niche that is unique to him. In 2014, Magic reportedly had a net worth of over $500 million with Magic Johnson Enterprises valued over $1 billion.
]amal Mashburn may have exited the NBA early due to injury, but he is slam dunking and hitting 3’s in business. He played in 13 seasons, reportedly earning over $70 million before taxes during that time. The former Dallas Mavericks star owns 38 Outback Steakhouse franchises, 32 Papa John’s franchises, Toyota and Lexus dealerships, and a real estate company.
Mashburn described his transition to business to the China Daily Newspaper:
“For me, being in business is always something I wanted to do. When I was a kid riding on trains in New York, I saw older people carrying a briefcase. I was always curious what was in them. That’s probably my original inspiration,” Mashburn told China Daily last month at a Sino-US friendly basketball tournament.
“I had talent as a basketball player, so I used it as a vehicle to open doors and meet people. I am not a guy who wants to be a one-night wonder. I want to continue my legacy as a businessman. It gives people a chance to see me as more than just a former pro athlete.”
In 2013, Mashburn launched his own venture capital firm, Justice Mashburn Capital Partners. His first investment was in LevelEleven, a software company bringing game mechanics to the sales departments of Fortune 1000 companies.
Jamal’s wife Michelle is also an experienced investor who invests in products and companies in the fitness industry.
Junior Bridgeman’s highest NBA salary was $350,000 and he retired in 1987 at 33. His net worth is now estimated to be over $200 million. After he was rejected over and over again by potential investors who didn’t believe he could do anything other than play basketball, Bridgeman purchased five Wendy’s restaurants in the Milwaukee-area. He described his start to Sports Illustrated:
Not even a banker with whom he had done business for more than a decade would take Bridgeman seriously during a meeting with him and his business partner, Paul Thompson. “Every question that she asked was directed to Paul,” Bridgeman says. “She didn’t view me as anybody other than, ‘You played basketball, you made some money, you bought these stores; he’s running ’em.’ That’s when I learned that when it came to business, people were going to see me one way.”
Bridgeman worked tirelessly to change that perception, doing everything from flipping burgers to working the counter. His best store in those early years grossed $800,000 annually, roughly what the average Wendy’s did at that time. “Failure,” he says, “was not an option.”
Bridgeman went on to grow a franchise portfolio of 450 stores including 125 Chilli restaurants, making him the second largest franchise owner in the country in 2014.
Last year, Bridgeman sold most of his restaurant franchises to become a Coca-Cola distributor. With the new distribution deal, Bridgeman will become just the third new independent Coca-Cola bottler in recent decades.
While many folks who claim to have “swagger” don’t like “Cornball Cannon” because he is a bit nerdy and goofy, he is proof that nerds end up having the last laugh. In an interview with Chase Bank, Nick Cannon gave his best advice for entrepreneurs:
Use other people’s money! No I’m serious, I wish I hadn’t invested so much of my own money initially, but you need to take risks if you believe in yourself. Also, be creative, so that you can be a self-generator. Generate your own publicity, generate your own concepts. Anything you can create on your own is always beneficial.
After the financial crisis, Cannon talked about his investment strategy with WSJ in 2010:
Before leaving America’s Got Talent, Cannon was rumored to be making $4.5 million per season. His net worth has been reported at around $20 million. Cannon has talked about his partnership with Viacom and the biggest obstacles he encountered on his way to Moguldom:
People not believing in me. Whether it was my age, where I came from, or just a lack of faith in my ability, most people in this field doubt me. I never let that stop me though. Instead I allowed it to fuel me and make me work harder and prove everyone wrong. I overcame it all by believing in myself and doing it myself. I have been a part of the Nickelodeon and Viacom family since I was 16 and started as the comedic warm up for the audience on the live Nick Shows.
By the time I was 17 I was the youngest staff writer in TV history for Nickelodeon. They have always given me opportunities to be on the forefront of the business, so in 2008 I presented the idea to let me run the teen network and once again my family at Nickelodeon took a shot on me and allowed me to be the chairman. It has been the greatest learning experience for me in this business and showed me the ropes on becoming a true entertainment executive.
Cannon’s show with “Wild N Out” recently boasted about a big ratings bump after kicking off its ninth season.
Ice Cube has been busy working on his Moguldom recently. Late last year, he inked a two-year deal to develop projects for broadcast, cable, and streaming at Cube Vision, the film and TV production company he founded with Matt Alvarez. In addition, he launched his own basketball league, Big 3. The premiere of the league on FS1 ranked among the top 10 all-time basketball telecasts. These ventures just add to Ice Cube’s existing earnings from film, music, and TV.
Ice Cube made a few important decisions in his great business career. He separated himself from a bad business situation and bet on himself.
I started off with too much cargo,
Dropped four n****s now I’m makin’ all the dough
— Lyrics from Ice Cube, “No Vaseline”
This separation helped lay the foundation for true Moguldom versus feeling stuck in a bad group rapper situation where Cube felt he was being cheated and could do a lot better on his own. He was right times a million.
“I think the worst thing you can do about a situation is nothing.”
— Ice Cube quote
Another key trait we have seen over and over with successful Moguls is they partner with high quality, reputable and established people who know more than them in an area and can complement what they bring to the table. Cube has grown his career and fortune with longtime manager Jeff Kwatinetz, of The Firm. Kwatinetz helped Cube secure an eight-figure deal with Asian investor Kevin Wu’s AID Patners. This deal will establish Cube as a major buyer of original content and develop their own projects with studios.
As we have seen many many times with Moguls who hold their wealth and grow it, Ice Cube is married and stays out of trouble. If you thought he was done with music, think again. The Mogul recently signed with Interscope Records.
The first project under the new deal is a 25th-anniversary edition of his second solo album, “Death Certificate,” which was released in October 1991. The re-release, dropping on June 9, featured three new songs, “Only One Me,” “Dominate The Weak” and the lead single, “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” The LP debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums chart shortly after its initial release, according to Variety.