Skip to main content

The richest NBA player you never heard of


When you think of some of the richest players in NBA history, you naturally think of guys like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Shaquille O'Neal. Superstars that earned millions with their on-court play and off-court image that brought them countless endorsements and business opportunities. But there is one player that is amongst those names when it comes to the net worth, despite being just a relatively unknown role player for his career. His name is Junior Bridgeman, and his net worth is estimated to be about $600 million.

NBA Career

Junior was drafted into the NBA back in 1975 by the Los Angeles Lakers, only to be traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent most of his 12 seasons in the league. With no individual or team accolades to show for it, Bridgeman left a solid career behind him, averaging 13.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 2.4 apg. The 6'5'' forward had his best season in 1980, averaging 17.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 2.9 apg for the Bucks. 

Playing in the 70s and 80s, Bridgeman had the opportunity to be a part of some great Bucks teams that featured players like Sidney Moncrief and Terry Cummings, but they never quite managed to go all the way. Playing in that era, Bridgeman made 350,000$ a year in his best years, which sounds ridiculously low compared to the money being thrown around in today's NBA. So how did this unknown player manage not only to escape the fate of many NBA players of that time who went broke but become a multimillionaire?

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Post-playing career

While his peers relaxed in the offseason, Junior learned about business and set up for a career after basketball. Bridgeman invested the money he earned from the NBA to purchase Wendy's restaurants, a very well-known brand in today's world. That would be a jumpstart to starting his own company named Bridgeman Foods, with the ambition of owning and operating numerous Wendy's restaurants over the country.

Nowadays, Wendy's is one of the most popular fast-food franchises in the world, but back in the '70s and 80s' it was still on the rise. Investing in the brand so early made Bridgeman a multimillionaire. In his early business day of managing, Bridgeman would treat his employees as a team, using his basketball experience to get his staff to work as a team. Learning about business in the off-season and picking the brains of NBA owners in his younger days served as the most valuable education for Junior, who managed to secure his family financially for a lifetime. 

As of recently, Bridgeman owns about 250 Wendy's and 120 Chili's restaurants. He is the second-largest Wendy's franchise owner in the US, with his net worth being around $600 million. It's a great and inspiring example of how athletes don't have to finish their professional careers when quitting the sport. They can use the resources they earned to make even more money and become business moguls. Great stuff from mister Bridgeman! If you want to see how Bridgeman ranks amongst the wealthiest NBA players ever, check out our article from a few years ago.

Laker center Shaquille O'Neal

“He bought a new Rolex for every single guy on the team” — former Laker Mark Madsen reveals Shaquille O'Neal's generosity

Just when Madsen thought Shaq buying him a car would finish the shopping spree, O'Neal decided to buy every Laker a brand new Rollie.

LeBron James admits he started taking care of his body pretty late in his career

LeBron shares his top three players of all time: "This is tough!"

Back in 2014, LeBron had a lot of trouble picking just three guys.


Tracy McGrady calls out Rudy Gobert: "What the f**k are you doing in the off-season?"

T-Mac just can comprehend Gobert hasn't added any moves to his offensive game over the years.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan once went from judging a dunk contest to destroying the winner in street clothes

MJ's future teammate Jo Jo English was one of the first people to learn an important lesson - never talk trash to Black Jesus.

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh promotes healthy eating that keeps him in prime shape despite being retired — “It gives me the energy I need to go forward”

Fully aware his NBA days are behind him, Chris Bosh explained why he still eats healthy and works out every day.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan goes up against Utah Jazz player Bryon Russell

“There's no 'Jordan rules' when you play 1-on-1“ — Bryon Russell claims Michael Jordan 'chickened out' from a 1-on-1 challenge

After being called out by Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech, Bryon Russell hit back and challenged MJ to a 1-on-1 game. According to Russell, Jordan "chickened out."

Lower Merion High School senior Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant had a “kill list” of 56 players who were ranked above him in high school

Trust Kobe Bryant to make any rankings lists (that has him as an underdog) look foolish