Retired Milwaukee Bucks great Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman, who has made millions more in the restaurant business than he ever did during his 12-year NBA career, ranks fourth on the latest Forbes list of highest-paid retired athletes.
Forbes estimates Bridgeman’s income in 2015 at $32 million. The publication estimates Bridgeman owns more than 450 restaurant franchises, which NBA.com reports are mostly made up of Wendy’s and Chili’s.
Another retired NBA player, Michael Jordan, tops the Forbes list with an estimated $110 million in income. Jordan is followed by soccer’s David Beckham at $65 million and golfer Arnold Palmer at $40 million. Bridgeman is the only retired athlete with Wisconsin connections on the list.
Bridgeman retired in 1987 after a 12-year NBA career mostly with the Bucks. His top annual salary was $350,000, according to a 2014 profile in Louisville Business First, a sister publication of the Milwaukee Business Journal.
After he retired, Bridgeman bought five Wendy’s franchise locations in Milwaukee. Bridgeman and his family then moved back to Louisville, Ky. — his college team was the University of Louisville — in summer of 1987 and continued accumulating more Wendy’s locations. He has built his business ever since from its headquarters in Louisville.
Story by Rich Kirchen, courtesy of the Milwaukee Business Journal.