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Australian Athletes Who Have Mastered The Side Hustle

Many athletes across the globe have built business empires, by using their personal brands and mastering their extensive networks, while also excelling at being a professional athlete. Every athlete has the potential to create additional income streams, such as establishing businesses, securing commercial endorsements or venturing into professional roles that they aspire to post their athletic careers.

Everyone is aware of huge international athletes, such as Lebron and Serena Williams who have all launched their own businesses, however, having a side hustle and creating additional income opportunities is not just for the mega-athletes. This blog showcases three impressive Australian athletes who are or have mastered the side hustle into successful businesses while being professional athletes.

Firstly, football player and wonder woman, Abbey Holmes began her football career playing for the Waratah Football Club in the Northern Territory. It was here that she won 4x Premierships and became the first women to kick 100 goals in an established football league. In 2016, Abbey was drafted in the inaugural AFL Women's Draft with the Adelaide Football Club and played the Premiership final.

Outside of her football career, in 2015 Abbey co-founded the activewear label, Esnetica which was developed on the need for comfortable activewear that is also fashionable. Abbey is also a regular football commentator on TV and radio, featuring on Sunrise, Channel 7 and sideline for the AFL Men.

Abbey Holmes, Channel 7, AFLW Player, AFL Mens, AFL Broadcasting
Abbey Holmes with the Channel 7 AFL Broadcasting Crew. Image via Instagram @abbeycholmes

On top of all of that, Abbey hosted a new television program, “Living The Dream With Abbey Holmes” which showcases off the grid places and experiences around Australia. If that wasn’t enough, Abbey is also a brand ambassador, blog writer and real estate agent! Talk about being an overachiever.

NRL Legends, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston are another two great examples of athletes who mastered the side hustle while being professional athletes. Allowing them to successfully transition from athlete to businesspeople post their 2018 NRL retirement. Both have successfully used their athlete brands to assist them in building several businesses, securing ambassador roles and employment positions.

Billy marketed himself to the media and his fans as the all-around “Aussie legend and family man” throughout his entire football career. Almost every second post from Billy features his wife or children, and most of his noteworthy achievements with the Melbourne Storm have his family by his side. Before he retired, Billy established Billy’s Buddies a franchise business teaching basic ball skills to 2 to 6- year-olds.

Additionally, he co-founded Brick Lane Brewing Co, a start-up Brewery in Melbourne with a group of friends. In 2017 he released his first book the “Billy Slater Autobiography” followed by an exercise book in 2018, “MOVE with Billy Slater”, strategically released to coincide with his retirement. Billy is now using his experience as one of the greatest rugby league players to try his hand at AFL in a Leadership Development role for the St. Kilda.

Many will regard Johnathan as a bad boy who done good. Many however will have forgotten his bad boy days, which is an element of JT’s brand that has very strategically been “forgotten”. Towards the end of his career, he was recognised as being a great family man, most recently appearing on the cover of The Courier-Mail with his wife, opening up about their pregnancy struggles. His passion for his Indigenous heritage is well-known, and he is an ambassador for many Aboriginal organisations that support Indigenous education and health.

Since retiring from the Cowboys, Johnathan has also released an autobiography, “Johnathan Thurston: The Autobiography” and has spent the last few months doing a speaking tour called “An Evening With Johnathan Thurston”. JT will also join the board of Tourism and Events Queensland in 2019. Additionally, JT has recently launched the JT Academy which provides online courses for kids, youth and adults in many areas.

Johnathan Thurston, JT, Speaking Tour, An Evening With Johnathan Thurston
Johnathan Thurston during his speaking tour, "An Evening With Johnathan Thurston." Image via The Courier Mail

You may also note that both athlete’s business ventures are not associated with the NRL, showing how they have transcended from just being recognised as an NRL athlete, and have used their NRL platform and experience to expand and diversify their business interests. These are two athletes who are proven examples of how any professional athlete can develop a strong, personal brand and leverage this platform during and post their athletic careers to create further commercial opportunities.

These Australian athletes are three great examples of how an athlete can build their brands and business ventures while being a professional athlete. Then continuing to leverage the brands they’ve built to experience continued public exposure and maximise the unique opportunities that being an elite athlete provides, to assist in establishing successful business ventures, and secure on-going financial returns.


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