Business

For athletes, weed offers more than a high. Here’s how athletes are getting rich(er) from cannabis.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

A growing number of professional athletes are speaking openly about the health benefits they have experienced from weed. From general wellness to injury recovery, big names like women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe and NFL star Calvin Johnson have become major voices in the cannabis and CBD world.

RELATED: For the first time, CBD is welcome at the Olympics. Will cannabis be next?

Though the medicinal benefits of cannabis and CBD still need further research, there is a good amount of evidence backing their claims. And because of this, athletes and the cannabis businesses are making money hand over fist. Athletes advertise and invest in cannabis brands, and cannabis brands are spending exorbitant amounts of money sponsoring athletes. Some athletes have even made the best of both worlds and started their own cannabis businesses.

Here are a few ways athletes are getting rich (or, at least rich-er) from weed:

Partnering with Cannabis Brands

When you think of brand partnerships with athletes, you probably think of brands like Gatorade or Subway. But guess what? Lots of high-profile athletes are now making money by partnering with cannabis brands.

RELATED: Cannabis in the NFL: Is Marijuana the Key to Athletic Success?

Soccer star Carli Lloyd, a two-time Olympic gold medalist on the U.S. Women’s National Team, has partnered with CBDMEDIC. She credits the brand with helping her recover from knee surgery. Lloyd joins NFL player and former Patriot Rob Gronkowski as a spokesperson for the brand.

Fellow USWNT member Megan Rapinoe is an ambassador for her and her twin sister’s CBD brand, Mendi. Meanwhile, NBA star Kevin Durant has partnered with Weedmaps, a technology platform that connects cannabis consumers with the cannabis business right for them.

Starting Weed Companies

Athletes from all over the sports world are starting companies to sell cannabis. NFL Hall of Fame star Calvin Johnson and teammate Rob Sims started the CBD company Primitiv, which researches the natural health benefits of marijuana. Primitiv sells a variety of products, including edibles, topical ointments, and much more.

RELATED: How legal is CBD, really? Your Comprehensive Guide to CBD Law in the United States

U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan has also launched her own CBD brand called Just Live. Just Live was started in 2020 by Morgan, Travis Pastrana, Paul Rodriguez, and Klay Thompson. It offers THC-free products such as capsules, soft gels, and gummies.

UFC fighters Nate and Nick Diaz were early entrants to the marijuana industry. The brothers have their own cannabis brand, Kill__4209, as well as their own brand of CBD products called Game Up Nutrition. UFC fighter Conor McGregor also has his own line of cannabis-based recovery products. TIDL Sport, which started in 2020, includes CBD oils and creams.

Investing in the Cannabis Industry

Even athletes who aren’t starting their own companies are finding other ways to get involved in the marijuana industry. For example, last year, NBA players Carmelo Anthony and John Wall invested in LEUNE, a California-based cannabis company.

Other athletes who have invested in companies that sell cannabis products include Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and Olympic skier Bode Miller, who invested in Motive CBD in 2019, and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, who invested in the cannabis brand Caliva the same year.

As more states legalize weed and the marijuana industry becomes more mainstream, it’s probably that the number of athletes getting rich through their partnerships, investments, and cannabis companies will only grow, and so will the amount of advertising and exposure cannabis companies can get from them.

Who knows? In a few years, we could see cannabis companies decorating NASCAR race cars and Olympic arenas.