Skip to main content

The richest NBA player you never heard of

junior-bridgeman-nba-bussiness-min

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.

Houston Rockets' big man Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson

"We were the original 'Twin Towers'” - Ralph Samson on playing with Hakeem Olajuwon in the Houston Rockets

Ralph Sampson looked back at his legacy with Hakeem Olajuwon as the original "Twin Towers."

JJ Redick & Phoenix Suns

JJ Redick shares what makes the Phoenix Suns an even better team and a legitimate contender this season- “I think it makes them a title contender”

Redick notes Bridges' improvements this season before saying that Bridges may be the X factor that could help the Suns emerge as title contenders this season

Charles Barkley & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Despite not knowing his name, Charles Barkley offers a stern warning to the public if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t an All-Star starter this season

Barkley said SGA should be an All-Star starter, but couldn't manage to say his name correctly, and hilariously referred to him as Shai Alexander Gilchrist in the process