Photo by Ben Rose/Getty Images for UNICEF
Did you know that Ted Turner pretty much saved the American Bison from extinction? He did. Maybe it wasn’t totally altruistic, though, because now he’s making them into burgers and steaks as the "Ted" behind Ted’s Montana Grill, with locations nationwide. Turner embarked on the venture with George McKerrow Jr., who founded LongHorn Steakhouse Inc., and sells the bison raised on his Montana ranch to the chain. Ted’s Montana Grill also features beef, so no worries if you aren’t a bison fan.
Rapper Rick Ross might have been well-known for his feud with 50 Cent until recently, but the big news out of Miami (and quite a few other locations) is his acquisition of multiple franchises of Wingstop. Ross didn’t stop in Miami, opening two additional locations in a "restaurant buying spree” in Memphis." "Miami is my hometown, and I want to share my favorite wings with one of my favorite cities," Ross explained in a press statement.
Magic Johnson has gone from the Lakers to the boardroom, building a business empire that includes a handful of franchises. Using his "Magicizing" process, Johnson partnered with TGI Fridays to open a franchise in the previously untapped Ladera, Calif., area. This venture was designed to bring jobs and more casual dining options to the area. Consider yourself "Magicized," Ladera! No news on whether Johnson receives free bacon Cheddar burgers, but that would be a fair price for "Magicizing."
Jimmy John's really should be available everywhere. A company that offers "Free Smells" in their window has a good sense of humor and an excellent marketing strategy in our book. There's nothing better than pumping sandwich smells outside to lure customers in! Drew Brees, the Super Bowl MVP Saints quarterback, is a big enough fan of the chain to buy a franchise. "I missed Jimmy John’s so much from my time in the Midwest, and I thought that it was a great fit for what we were doing in New Orleans," Brees told Entrepreneur. "The culinary arts is a big thing down here; there are great restaurants and great chefs; and so much of the culture is surrounded by food and dining. It’s kind of neat to be part of that somewhat by owning my Jimmy John’s franchises." Brees isn’t the only sports star to be a big fan of Jimmy John’s; New York Yankees pitcher David Robertson told us that he eats it every time he’s on the road.
Yes, we’ve already mentioned Magic Johnson, but let’s be honest, the dude deserves two entries for the sheer number of business ventures he operates. Johnson has a knack for working with existing brands and tailoring them to the areas he targets. For example, at a Starbucks location he partnered with in Los Angeles, he noticed that locals enjoyed playing chess in the area. Working with the company, he placed picnic tables outside the location and invited the community to visit and play. You’re welcome, Starbucks.
It’s a match made in heaven (no pun intended) for Venus Williams to endorse a super-yummy yet (semi-)healthy chain like Jamba Juice, as the tennis champion is well-known for her commitment to physical education and nutrition in the community. Also, Jamba Juice is awesome, so there’s that. Williams currently owns two Jamba Juice franchises in the Washington, D.C. area, with reported plans to add five more over the next five years. Keep the delicious frozen smoothie treats coming, Venus!
NeNe Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame is a Southern superstar, ya’ll. So she opened a... pizza joint? In California? We don’t even know. But true story: she opened a franchise of Famous Famiglia Pizzeria in the Sacramento airport several years ago. Lucky for visitors, it’s probably operated by people who know some things about pizza making and Italian food. Sorry, NeNe.
Jamal Mashburn, former Dallas Mavericks superstar, reportedly made more than $75 million during his career. Monster Mash, as he is affectionately known by fans, used his huge earnings to purchase more than 70 restaurants at last count. This staggering number includes 38 Outback Steakhouse franchises and 32 Papa John’s. Small wonder that this former champion is viewed as one of the best success stories of former-athletes-turned-businessmen after retiring from professional sports.
Peyton Manning is a freaking genius. Seriously. The quarterback signed a deal to purchase 21 Papa John's franchises in the Denver area two weeks before voters in Colorado approved an amendment legalizing recreational pot use in the state. The jock stereotype cannot hold up in the face of business savvy like this.
Apparently, Shaq loves pretzels. In fact, he loves them so much that his O'Neal Franchise Group teamed up with V&J Foods in 2007 to purchase eight franchised locations of Auntie Anne’s in Buffalo, N.Y., and a half-dozen more in Michigan with plans for expansion. It looks like he currently owns six locations around Buffalo, and nine in Michigan. According to V&J, Shaq’s involvement is minimal in terms of advertising but the door is always open if he’s interested. Pretty sure the world is ready for an advertising campaign involving Shaq, a shopping mall, and a cinnamon sugar pretzel drowning in butter. Someone needs to make this happen now.