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It's crazy to think that only a few decades ago, athletes could only hope to make a modest living before retiring into obscurity. Many transitioned into second and third careers to make ends meet. Now, current and former athletes are leveraging their images to create multimillion-dollar brands and franchises.

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1. Shaquille O'Neal

We begin with the biggest 7'1" basketball center Shaquille O'Neal. After dominating the NBA as a three-time MVP and four-time league champion, Shaq became an actor and sports commentator. He has endorsed brands from the Shaq-Fu video game to Icy Hot and recently made a splash as recording artist DJ Diesel. O'Neal is worth an estimated $400 million.

Shaq performing as DJ Diesel Gary Miller / Getty Images
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