Stars of the 2016 Rio Olympics take note: Even if you’ve collected your gold medal (or medals), made the rounds of the TV talk shows, and inked lucrative endorsement deals, you’ll still have to plan for a second act to your career, and it probably won’t involve swimming, running, spinning, or jumping. (And athletes in lesser-known sports who don’t capture the public imagination may face an even bumpier financial road after Rio.) Here’s what 13 of the biggest stars of the Games, from Carl Lewis to Mary Lou Retton to Greg Louganis, have done to reinvent themselves after their victories in the pool, track, or gym faded into memories.
Mark Spitz, 66
Former competitive swimmer and nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz is best known for his seven-gold-medal sweep at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich—a record surpassed only by fellow swimmer Michael Phelps at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Spitz retired after Munich, at age 22, and the endorsements flooded in. Since then, he has made a number of appearances on TV, helping ABC Sports cover the 1976 and 1984 Summer Games, narrated a 2006 Hungarian documentary, Freedom’s Fury, about the “Blood in the Water” water polo match between Hungary and the USSR during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and become a licensed stockbroker. He now manages a portfolio of private-equity investments.
Misty May-Treanor, 38
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor is one of the most famous beach volleyball players. She won 21 consecutive Olympic matches with partner Kerri Walsh, and together they were named sportswomen of the year in 2004 and 2006 by Women’s Sports Foundation. May-Treanor was individually awarded Most Outstanding Player in women’s beach volleyball at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Since then she’s made TV appearances, performed on Dancing with the Stars (until she ruptured her achilles tendon during practice), and is now back home in California working as director of volleyball at Long Beach State Community College. “It was probably the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve gone through, the interview process,” she told local newspaper Press Telegram.
Mary Lou Retton, 48
Gymnast Mary Lou Retton left the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with five medals in hand. She won the all-around gold medal and became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the sport. Two years later she retired. Retton has since worked as a “Fitness Ambassador” for the Discover Fitness Foundation in her home town of Houston, helping children with special needs and obesity problems get into gymnastics. She had a cameo in Naked Gun 33 1/3 and guest starred in an episode of Baywatch, worked as a commentator for NBC during the 1988 Olympic Games, and wrote a daily column for USA Today at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. She lives in Houston with her husband and relishes her role as a “gym mom” to four gymnastics-loving daughters.
Carl Lewis, 55
A ten-time medal winner in track and field — nine of them gold — Carl Lewis retired from the sport two decades ago after appearing in four Olympic Games (L.A., Seoul, Barcelona, and Atlanta). Since then, the former sprinter (100 and 200 meters) and long jumper has been in and out of the spotlight. He’s had cameos in such movies and TV shows as Perfect Strangers, Speed Zone, and Alien Hunter. In 2011, he attempted to run for a seat in the New Jersey state Senate but was removed from the ballot for failing to meet the state’s residency requirements. He’s worked as a motivational speaker and marketer, amassing an estimated net worth of $20 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Most recently, he has been coaching track and field athletes at the University of Houston in hopes of elevating the sport in America again. “The reason why I’m coaching here ultimately is because, when I was at London 2012, I was just appalled at how bad we were,” Lewis recently told ESPN. He has also become a vocal critic of doping in sports.
Dara Torres, 49
In Beijing in 2008, 41-year-old Dara Torres became the oldest swimmer to compete at the Olympic Games. Two years after she had given birth to her first child, she took home three silver medals. Four years later, she gave the 2012 London Games a go but didn’t make it past the trials, and she subsequently launched a career in writing, speaking, and TV sports commentary. Her second book, Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, hit the New York Times best-seller list.
Michael Johnson, 48
Michael Johnson, famous for his gold shoes and stiff-backed sprinting stance, has kept busy well into his retirement from track and field. Once dubbed the “fastest man in the world,” Johnson set world records in the 200 meter and 400 meter sprints at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. His world record in the 200 meters remained unbroken until 2008, when Usain Bolt shaved off two milliseconds. Johnson, who lives in California, now works as a commentator for the BBC and coaches for UK premier league football team. In 2010, he appeared on Celebrity Apprentice, but abruptly left Donald Trump’s reality TV show for personal reasons.
Greg Louganis, 56
Greg Louganis was the first male diver in Olympic history to win gold in both springboard and platform diving in consecutive Olympic Games (1984 and 1988). A year after his last Games, having been diagnosed with HIV, Louganis retired from sport to pursue a career as an author, actor, and part-time dog trainer. It wasn’t until 1995 that he told the world he was HIV-positive and released his autobiography, Breaking the Surface, which became a New York Times bestseller. Today Louganis lives in L.A. with his husband Johnny Challio and splits his time between judging diving competitions, mentoring young divers (including the 2012 U.S. diving team) and being a spokesperson for HIV. In May of this year Louganis made his long-awaited Wheaties box debut after fans had petitioned online.
Richard Fosbury, 69
Richard Fosbury famously invented the backwards high jump technique that helped him to take home gold at the 1968 Olympic Games. What is known as the “Fosbury Flop” became the most popular style used in the sport. Post-jumping, Fosbury became a civil engineer and headed back to his home state of Idaho to set up Galena Engineering, an engineering consultancy firm. He served as city engineer for two local towns and helped design 20-plus miles of bike and running trails. In 2014 Fosbury ran for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives but lost. He now lives in Bellevue, where he is commissioner of his county planning and zoning committee.
Amy Van Dyken, 43
Swimmer Amy Van Dyken is one of few Olympic champions to have an unbroken gold-medal winning streak. She took home four golds in Atlanta in 1996 and another two in Sydney in 2000. Four years into her retirement, when she was working as a national sports radio talk show co-host, Van Dyken severed her spinal cord in an ATV accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. While undergoing rehabilitation she set up the Amy Van Dyken Foundation, or “Amy’s Army,” to help others with spinal injuries fund the estimated $1 million in medical expenses. In addition to keeping up her own physical therapy and running Amy’s Army, she crisscrosses the country giving motivational speeches.
Jackie-Joyner Kersee, 54
Jackie-Joyner Kersee’s track and field career spanned four Olympic Games (1984 to 1996). She won six Olympic medals in the long jump and heptathlon, and in 2000 was named Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated. In 1988 she set up the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois, and 12 years later raised $12 million to build The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, a youth recreation and sports center with a 1,200-seat gymnasium. In 2007, Joyner-Kersee, along with a number of well known pro athletes, founded Athletes for Hope, a nonprofit that helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes.
Edwin Moses, 60
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses set world records for the 400-meter hurdles four times between 1976 and 1987. He won 122 consecutive races over a 10-year span and famously took 13 steps between each hurdle (the norm was 14). Originally trained as an aerospace engineer, Moses had no trouble finding work after sports. He earned a masters in business administration at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., went on to set up a business management agency for athletes, and then spent several years working as a financial consultant. It wasn’t for him: “I just got burned out. I wanted to get back into public speaking and do something worthwhile,” he told Sports Illustrated. Moses then joined Laureus World Sports Academy, a nonprofit which promotes the use of sport for social change.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, 59
Maine’s best-known athlete, Joan Benoit Samuelson has logged over 150,000 running miles in her lifetime, according to the Wall Street Journal. She broke world records in her first attempt at the Boston marathon, won gold at the inaugural Olympic women’s marathon in 1984, and was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. Her Olympic days may be over, but fighting fit Benoit Samuelson is still breaking records for 50-plus women’s marathons. She also works as a consultant to Nike, runs running and health clinics across the U.S., and has written two books about her life and sport. In 2004, she told Sports Illustrated, “I keep my gold medal in a drawer with window cranks and batteries and Christmas ornaments.”
Bob Beamon, 69
Bob Beamon was known for making sport’s greatest leap: the 8.90 meter long jump (29 feet, 2.5 inches), a world record that stood for 23 years. It was also his final competitive leap. The 6-foot 3-inch Beamon was then drafted for the Arizona basketball team, The Phoenix Suns, though he never made it through to play in the NBA. He’s since worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger to introduce athletic programs in colleges across the U.S. and is one of the founding members of Art of the Olympians, a nonprofit which promotes the Olympic values through art exhibitions and educational workshops. He’s even exhibited his own graphic designs.