After competing in the summer Rio Olympics where he added five gold medals and one silver to his legendary roster of 28 total Olympic medals, the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, announced he would officially be retiring from Olympic swimming at the age of 31. If you thought Phelps would settle into a nice, relaxing retirement though to indulge in his millions of dollars (approximately $75 million grossed over the course of his career, that is), think again. According to USA Today, Michael Phelps recently announced in an interview for the Associated Press that he plans to enter the tech world and get involved with startups.
I knew there was a reason I liked this guy! There’s just no stopping Phelps. He claimed in 2012 he was done with swimming, only to come back for Rio this year and earn another six medals for his collection. Now, just when we all thought Phelps would happily retreat into an early retirement, he is back again, this time to take on Silicon Valley.
Phelps has already established a brand for himself with sponsorship deals from major companies like AT&T, Visa, Under Armour, Subway, and Wheaties. He’s been featured in commercials for Intel, the American multinational computer/technology company, as well as promotions for the latest Call of Duty video game from Activision. With the opportunity for so many endorsements, even after retirement, one would think that would be enough to keep busy and funded for a lifetime, but Phelps seeks to invest some of his fortune, as well as his knowledge and business sense, into the world of tech.
It’s worth noting that a lot of celebrities have tried getting into the tech industry and failed. A lot of regular people have failed to launch startups as well, but of course for celebrity athletes, that failure is magnetized and broadcast across the media. For instance, former Boston Red Sox player Curt Schilling started a video game company that tanked in 2012, and former 49ers lineman Harris Barton’s tech investment firm, HJR Capital failed in 2009, 10 years after it was started.
There have been success stories as well, though. Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that gained shares for Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. Its value has grown from $30 million to $250 million. Dr. Dre helped found Beats, which was sold to Apple for $3 billion.
Despite the mixed success of star athletes getting involved with startups, Phelps is determined to make an effort and see where it goes. “I would love to get involved,” he said. “Whether it’s in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes.”