Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman's life story is a remarkable journey from the basketball court to the boardroom, showcasing his prowess not only in sports but also in the world of business. Despite earning a maximum of $350,000 per year during his 12-season NBA career, Bridgeman has transcended financial expectations, now boasting an impressive net worth of $650 million.
Beginning his NBA journey as the first pick in the 1975 draft for the LA Lakers, Bridgeman's fate took a turn when he was swiftly traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a historic deal involving basketball luminary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Over the course of his career, he emerged as the sixth-best player, securing nine consecutive seasons in double figures. His dedication and skill on the court culminated in a decade-long stint with the Bucks, followed by a brief return to Los Angeles for two seasons with the Clippers before retiring in 1987.
Transitioning from the court to the business world, Junior Bridgeman exhibited an early entrepreneurial spirit by working at the fast-food chain Wendy's during his youth. His strategic investments in the franchise saw him owning three Wendy's restaurants by the time he hung up his basketball jersey.
Bridgeman Foods, his business venture, flourished, eventually controlling a staggering 280 restaurants with 11,000 employees across the US. In 2016, Bridgeman made a strategic move by selling his fast-food empire, a transaction that catapulted his net worth to an estimated $600 million.
This financial success positioned him higher than iconic sports figures such as LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O'Neal. Currently serving as the president and CEO of Coca-Cola Hartland, Junior is also the owner of Bridgman Sports and Media, which made headlines in 2020 for acquiring the renowned magazines "Ebony" and "Jet." Forbes recognized Bridgeman as the fourth-richest retired athlete globally in the year he sold his food empire, trailing only behind legends Michael Jordan, David Beckham, and Arnold Palmer.
His journey exemplifies the rare combination of athletic excellence and business acumen, solidifying Junior Bridgeman's legacy as a towering figure not only in basketball but also in the realm of entrepreneurship.