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Mark Zuckerberg's jiu-jitsu fighting and Bill Gates' pickleball: 20 tech billionaires and executives and how they stay fit

Mark Zuckerberg participates in jiu-jitsu tournaments and Bill Gates has played tennis against Jeff Bezos.
Mark Zuckerberg participates in jiu-jitsu tournaments, and Bill Gates has played tennis against Jeff Bezos.Mark Zuckerberg on Instagram and Getty
  • Tech founders and billionaires don't spend all their time in the office.

  • Mark Zuckerberg recently raced in a 5-K race and competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament.

  • Other execs do everything from BASE jumping to segway polo. Here's what we know about their favorite sports.

Billionaire Richard Branson is known for being something of a daredevil.

Richard Branson kite surfing
Richard Branson likes to kitesurf.Paul Kane / Stringer / Getty Images

The 72-year-old founded Virgin Group, a conglomerate that encompasses over 40 companies, but he still finds time for all kinds of recreational activities, including BASE jumping and kitesurfing.

Branson has broken multiple Guinness World Records, including being the first man to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a hot-air balloon.

"It's important to have fun in life and not take yourself too seriously," he told Insider in a 2016 interview.

Most recently, Branson traveled to space on a Virgin Galactic rocket.

Sources: Insider, Guinness World Records, Insider

Like Branson, Google cofounder Sergey Brin is also into high-adrenaline activities.

Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin is into high-adrenaline sports.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The engineer has said he likes to do a "variety of acrobatic things," from roller hockey and ultimate frisbee to gymnastics, springboard diving, and high-flying trapeze, according to ABC News.

When he studied at Stanford, he joined a variety of sports teams, including in-line skating, skiing, gymnastics, and trapeze.

Brin said in a blog post from 2008 that he tries to stay active because he has a genetic mutation that could substantially increase his risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Source: ABC News. Insider

Anne Wojcicki — 23andMe founder and Brin's former wife — was a hockey player and figure skater growing up.

Anne Wojcicki
Anne Wojcicki skated growing up.Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The founder of the genetic testing company told Fast Company she started skating when she was two years old and switched from figure skating to hockey when the sport got too much "like Honey Boo Boo."

Sources: Insider, Fast Company


Jeff Bezos does everything from horseback riding to climbing.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin on July 20, 2021.
Jeff Bezos is a thrill seeker.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Amazon and Blue Origin founder loves to explore. He's gone on days-long horseback rides, traveled to the bottom of the ocean, climbed an Amazon wind turbine, explored caves, and even gone dog sledding.

Bezos also enjoys more conventional activities, including tennis. The billionaire competed in a celebrity tennis match against Bill Gates in 2001.


Sources: Insider, ESPN



In addition to playing Tennis, Bill Gates also enjoys pickleball.

Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, in an interview on May 5, 2015
Gates plays tennis and pickleball.Getty Images

Though the sport recently saw a surge in interest during the pandemic, the billionaire said he's been playing the sport for over 50 years.

Last year, the Microsoft founder posted a video explaining the rules of pickleball on YouTube and calling himself a "pickler."


Gates says he grew up near the birthplace of the sport in Seattle and his father was friends with its inventors, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell. He even had a pickleball court on the grounds of his childhood home.

Sources: YouTube, CNET, Insider

When he's not promoting the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg leads an active life in the real world.

Mark Zuckerberg rides an electric hydrofoil surfboard off the coast of Kauaʻi while wearing a visible coat of sunscreen on his face.
Zuckerberg has been seen hydrofoiling several times over the years.MEGA

The Meta CEO has been known to post videos of himself hydrofoiling, surfing, and fencing.

Last week, Zuckerberg said he competed in his first jiu-jitsu tournament and "won some medals." He shared some photos from the event on Instagram.


Jiu-jitsu isn't the only contact sport Zuckerberg likes to play. Last year, he showed off his mixed martial arts (MMA) skills against a UFC fighter.


"What's a thing that's both super engaging physically, but also intellectually, where you can't afford to focus on something else? MMA is the perfect thing because if you stop paying attention for one second, you're going to end up on the bottom," he said in an interview with Joe Rogan last year.

While the billionaire said he used to run a lot, he added that he has since cooled on the exercise because he likes activities "that require full focus" to take his mind off of work.

But he does not appear to have given up the sport entirely. He ran a 5K with some friends last month and said on Instagram that he hit a "sub-2o min goal."

Zuckerberg also enjoys hunting. In 2011, the CEO served Jack Dorsey a goat he'd killed himself, according to Rolling Stone.

Sources: Insider, Insider, Rolling Stone

Zuckerberg isn't the only tech executive that enjoys swordplay. Cisco cofounder Sandy Lerner likes to joust.

Sandy Lerner
Sandy Lerner enjoys jousting.AP and Wikimedia

Lerner uses lances and period costumes to recreate the age-old tradition of jousting.

In 1996 she bought a 500-acre farm in Upperville, Virginia, where she farms and raises horses for jousting matches.

Source: Insider 

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak plays segway polo.

steve wozniak segway polo
Steve Wozniak likes to use his segway.Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Wozniak has competed in multiple segway polo championships, including the "Woz Cup," a world championship in Germany that was named after the Apple cofounder.

The 72-year-old played for a team called the Silicon Valley Aftershocks in the cup. His team was one of 15 clubs across nine countries that competed in the world championships in 2015. The rules of segway polo are a mix of traditional polo rules mixed with some elements of hockey and soccer, Quartz reported.

In 2016, he told Insider he often rides his segway around town and carries it in his car.

Sources: Quartz, Insider, Insider 

Apple's other cofounder Steve jobs swam competitively as a kid.

Steve Jobs at a keynote speech in 2008.
Steve Jobs golfed for a time in the 90s.David Paul Morris/Getty Images

The executive gave up on the sport before he went to college, according to ESPN, though he took up golf briefly in the 90s.

Source: ESPN


Elon Musk told Joe Rogan he tried several different sports in high school.

Elon Musk in 2020
Musk wrestled a professional sumo wrestler.Yasin Ozturk/Getty Images

While Musk described himself as a "bookish" kid, the billionaire said he studied karate, judo, and Brazilian jiu jitsu his youth.

The billionaire also wrestles. Last year, Musk said on Twitter that he managed to "throw the world champion sumo wrestler" at a party. However, the experience caused him to slip a disc in his neck.

Sources: The Joe Rogan Experience, Twitter

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was also active early on in life.

Marissa Mayer as Yahoo President and CEO in 2015
Marissa Mayer took ballet when she was a kid.Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Mayer, who was Google's first female engineer and currently serves in Walmart's board, played several sports and took ballet when she was a kid.

In high school, she was on the "pompom" and debate teams.

Sources: Insider, Forbes


Oracle founder Larry Ellison sails competitively.

Larry Ellison sailing champagne celebration
Larry Ellison has been sailing competitively since he was 22.Alberto Saiz/AP Images

Ellison has owned several yachts over the years and participated in multiple sailing competitions.

When he was 22, Ellison enrolled in a sailing course at the University of California, according to About Sports. In the 90s, he won five Maxi World Championships.

He later created Team Oracle and less than a decade after its creation the group won its first America's Cup. In 2018, the billionaire also cofounded a sailing league, SailGP, which is considered to be the sailing equivalent of Formula One.

Sources: Insider, About Sports, Forbes

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai likes to watch and play cricket.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai enjoys cricket.Jerod Harris/Getty Images

"If not at Google, I would have taken up football or cricket," Pichai said during an event at Delhi University in 2015. "As a child, I loved watching cricket."

At the event, the executive showed off his cricket skills.

Sources: India Today, The Economic Times

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has also played cricket.

Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella played cricket when he was younger.Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

"Growing up in India, my dream as a boy was to play cricket professionally," Nadella told GeekWire in 2015.  "The sport had a very rich heritage at my school and I went on to play school and junior cricket as a bowler (right arm off spin)."

He continued: "At a certain point, I realized that I had reached my limit and luckily discovered my next passion in engineering and technology!"

The executive said he enjoys the "drama" of the game. The game dates back to the 16th century and is played with two teams of 11 players using a bat and a ball.

Source: GeekWire

Apple CEO Tim Cook stays active by hiking and cycling.

Tim Cook Apple sitting on a red chair
Apple CEO Tim Cook enjoys peaceful hikes.Jerod Harris/Getty Images Entertainment

Last year, Cook posted a photo from a trail in Yosemite, calling the pastime one of his "favorite ways to clear his mind." Cook also enjoys biking, according to a report from Time.

Insider previously reported that the CEO wakes up at 3:45 am each day to get a jump on his work and spend some time at the gym.

"I think sports is still a great unifier," Cook told ESPN in 2019. "It's the one thing we can all rally around and people put their other interests aside to either fight the other side or hopefully join forces. So sports always comes up. CEOs are people, too. They love sports, too."

Sources: Fast Company, ESPN,  Twitter, Insider, Time


Before he founded Twitter, Jack Dorsey ran a fantasy football league with his friends.

Jack Dorsey speaking at a crypto-currency event
Jack Dorsey meditates and fasts.MARCO BELLO/Getty Images

Dorsey also became a licensed masseur in 2002.

Today, Dorsey is more into meditating. The Twitter founder has said he meditates for hours each day and enjoys silent meditations.

Dorsey has also said he's into fasting and typically only eats one meal per day. He said the first time he tried fasting it made him feel like he was hallucinating.

"It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down," he said on a podcast.

Sources: Insider, Insider


Cathy Engelbert, former CEO of Deloitte and current WNBA commissioner, has always been into sports.

Cathy Engelbert
Cathy Engelbert was the captain of her lacrosse and basketball teams in college.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The businesswoman played on both the basketball and lacrosse teams when she studied at Lehigh University and served as the captain for both teams during her senior year.

Source: NBA


Engelbert isn't the only businesswoman with a strong sports background. Former HP and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman was on four sports teams in high school.

Meg Whitman
Meg Whitman played several sports in high school and college.AP

Whitman played basketball, lacrosse, and tennis and captained the swim team in high school. At Princeton University, she played for the varsity lacrosse and squash teams.

Source: CNBC

Palantir CEO Alex Karp says he cross-country skis for up to five hours per week.

Alex Karp, chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies, on July 11, 2019.
Alex Karp cross-country skis often.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The 55-year-old told Axios he has a low body fat of about 7%, just below Michael Phelps body fat when he was training for the 2008 Olympics.

In 2020, The New York Times reported that Karp has skied roughly 25 to 37 miles a day. The tech CEO also does daily tai chi.

Sources:Insider, Axios, The New York Times, Palantir

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd says she enjoyed skiing and camping as a kid.

Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd enjoys skiing.Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The founder of the popular dating site said she actually met her husband on a skiing trip in Aspen.

Sources: Vogue, Time


Read the original article on Business Insider