by Amy Lamare
Pop quiz #1: In 1975, which newly drafted player did the Lakers trade away to acquire superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? If you guessed Junior Bridgeman, you are correct.
Pop quiz #2: As of April 2014, who is the second largest owner of Wendy's franchises in America? Once again, the correct answer is… Junior Bridgeman.
As an NBA player, Junior Bridgeman had a moderately successful 12-year career playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers. To be completely honest, his NBA career was kind of unremarkable.
So why are we writing about him on Celebrity Net Worth? Well, as you may know, retirement can be a very painful experience for many NBA players. According to a study conducted by Sports Illustrated, a staggering 60% of NBA players are completely broke within five years of retiring. Junior Bridgeman did not go down this route. Instead, Junior Bridgeman is a shining light of inspiration. A man who every athlete should admire and study.
Here's an amazing anecdote: One day, a customer recognized Junior in his Wendy's uniform making french fries. The customer was shocked and immediately called into a local sports talk radio show to say how sad it was to see a formerly great NBA player down on his luck, forced to work in fast food asking people "do you want fries with that?" Oh, the irony!
After nearly 25 years in business, Bridgeman Foods INC operates more than 160 Wendy's and more than 120 Chili's franchises in America today. Bridgeman employs over 11,000 people and has annual revenues in excess of $530 million dollars. Possibly looking to follow Junior's lead, current NBA player Chauncey Billups recently invested money into some Wendy's franchises. Junior is the second largest Wendy's franchise owner in the world and frequently listed as one of the most admired business leaders in America. His personal net worth today tops $400 million. That's just $250 million shy of Michael Jordan. That's also $380 million MORE than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's current net worth of $20 million
When not running his fast food empire, Junior Bridgeman likes to play golf and, in fact, is on the board of directors of the PGA. He has been married to his wife Doris for more than 35 years. The couple has three adult children who all have MBAs and work in the family business. Junior Bridgeman is a private man who has built a heck of a fortune, family, and life. He recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity. Thanks to a lot of hard work, that opportunity made him an extremely wealthy and admired man.