How An NBA Role Player Turned A $350,000 Salary into $600M In Net Worth
Ulysses Bridgeman is the founder and CEO of Manna Inc/Bridgeman Foods. It’s a conglomerate of fast food franchises with an estimated worth of $600 million. Bridgeman owns 200 fast food restaurants and is the second largest franchise owner of Wendy’s in the world.
Bridgeman was born and raised in Chicago. He was selected in the 1st round of the 1975 NBA Draft by the LA Lakers.
His time in LA didn't last long though, Bridgeman was immediately traded to Milwaukee as part of a package to bring Kareem Abdul Jabbar to LA.
Bridgeman was an awesome role player in the NBA. He had a career total of 11,500 points and almost 3,000 rebounds. He played 10 years with the Milwaukee Bucks and 2 years with the Los Angeles Clippers.
During this time, NBA contracts were not what they were today. The average NBA role player in the NBA today makes $6.4 million. During Bridgeman’s time in the NBA, players made more money from their endorsements that they did with their NBA contracts.
As a role player, Bridgeman made no more than $350,000 in a single season. He spent the offseasons working at a local Wendy’s drive-through to learn about the fast food business. By the time he was retiring from basketball, he already owned 3 Wendy’s franchises.
After seeing success with the franchises, Bridgeman doubled down on the franchises and invested in over 160 locations in the next 20+ years. He also invested in Chili’s owning more than 120 at one point.
In 2016, as part of a bottling and distribution deal with the The Coca-Cola Company, Bridgeman agreed to sell off his Wendy’s and Chilli’s franchise locations. The agreement allowed him exclusive operations in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Nebraska.
This deal was big for Bridgeman as he was always enamoured by the Coca Cola brand as a player. He went on to purchase additional rights within Canada.
Bridgeman continues to expand his business portfolio today. He is an investor in the Sacramento Kings, Blaze Pizza, the pizza company Lebron James is known to be an investor in. He also offers guidance to players hoping to transition in business after sports.
Bridgeman has built an estimated net worth of $600M+.