You’d wonder what went wrong for a former professional athlete to fall so far if you saw them working at Wendy’s. Former NBA player Junior Bridgeman might take your Wendy’s order soon, but he’s not doing it to make ends meet. Bridgeman is, in fact, one of the world’s five richest former athletes. But do you know how Wendy’s helped Junior Bridgeman become a millionaire?
Junior Bridgeman is a former NBA player who spent his off seasons working at Wendy’s to learn more about the fast food chain. He once owned over 100 Wendy’s locations and is now worth more than $600 million.
Junior Bridgeman in the National Basketball Association
Ulysses Bridgeman, also known as Junior, was not a superstar in the NBA, but he was one of the league’s best sixth men in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bridgeman averaged more than 12 points per game off the bench for nine straight seasons.
The 12-year NBA veteran spent most of his time with the Milwaukee Bucks. He also holds the Bucks’ franchise record for games played, but he only started 105 of them. Bridgeman finished his career with a two-year stint with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bridgeman finished second on the Bucks in scoring in 1979-80 despite coming off the bench most of the time. That season, he averaged a career-high 17.6 points per game while leading Milwaukee to a 49-33 record.
Bridgeman earned $350,000 in the NBA in 1985, but his post-NBA career would be far more lucrative. (Source: Sports Casting)
From Fast Breaks to Becoming a Fast Food Mogul
Junior Bridgeman left the NBA in 1987. Despite never making an All-Star team during his 12-year career, he quickly became an All-Star in the business world after retiring.
Bridgeman decided to buy a Wendy’s in Milwaukee near the end of his NBA career to prepare for his next chapter after basketball. He then purchased a few more. And then there’s more. Bridgeman eventually owned 160 Wendy’s locations and 120 Chili’s locations.
Bridgeman Foods Inc. was founded by the former sixth man and grew into a fast food empire. It employs 11,000 people and generates over $500 million in revenue annually.
Bridgeman eventually sold Bridgeman Foods Inc. in 2016. The following year, he was appointed The Coca-Cola Company’s official bottler. He is now the president and CEO of Coca-Cola Heartland Bottling Company, which has current revenue of approximately $650 million.
Bridgeman’s net worth is currently $600 million. That makes him the world’s fifth-richest former athlete. Bridgeman is the only athlete ahead of Michael Jordan, Ion Tiriac, Magic Johnson, and Michael Schumacher.
It’s not often that professional athletes find infinitely more success after their sporting careers, but Bridgeman has. Bridgeman was a forgotten NBA name during the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird eras, but he’s making sure everyone knows who he is now.
The Bucks retired Bridgeman’s No. 2 jersey alongside Oscar Robertson’s No. 1 and Kareem Abdul-No. Jabbar’s 33. He’s one of the greatest Bucks of all time and now one of the world’s wealthiest athletes. (Source: Sports Casting)
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