Why Michael Phelps wants to be the next Michael Jordan

Why Michael Phelps wants to be the next Michael Jordan
Why Michael Phelps wants to be the next Michael Jordan

Michael Phelps has his eye on a new prize: In his post-Olympic career, he wants to emulate Michael Jordan.

That's not to say that the swimming champion is going to try basketball. Phelps wants to reproduce Jordan's success as an entrepreneur.

In the world of retired athletes, Jordan is a wise choice of role model: Jordan is now worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

"What he did in the sport of basketball," says Phelps, "I think that is really special and was neat for me to watch. … I want to do the same thing."

Phelps has already started to leverage his legacy. He spoke to CNBC from the New York City showroom of direct-to-consumer mattress brand Leesa, with which he has recently entered into a four-year brand partnership.

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Phelps also has a competitive swimwear line, MP.

But Phelps is just getting started in the transition from athlete to brand, and he's using Jordan's career as an example.

The basketball legend partnered with Nike to build the Jordan Brand, a combination of basketball shoes and gear and a roster of participating athletes. There are more than 50 Jordan Brand athletes, including Oklahoma City basketball player Russell Westbrook and wrestler Gennady Golovkin.

"I would like to now be able to chose up and coming swimmers, whether they are in the U.S. or throughout the world, to potentially reach their goals and dreams," says Phelps. Were breakaway swimming sensation Katie Ledecky not still in college, for example, Phelps would be eager to sign a deal to work with her, he says.

Jordan has also profited from his position as the chairman and majority holder of the North Carolina-based Charlotte Hornets NBA team and from his involvement in restaurants like the Michael Jordan steakhouse in New York City.

While pointing to Jordan indicates the scope of Phelps' ambitions, the Olympian declines to put a dollar figure on his revenue goals.

"I have some personal goals that I would like to achieve in the business world and I don't actually think anybody knows what they are," says Phelps. "I've always done that. And, yeah, I've always been somebody who's kept some very specific goals to myself."

See also:
Olympic hero Michael Phelps says the secret to his success is one most people overlook
5 daily habits Olympian Michael Phelps swears by

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