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NFL Player turned financial advisor explains how Olympic athletes can monetize their celebrity

Former NFL Player and current UBS Head of Sports and Entertainment Adewale Ogunleye joined Yahoo Finance to preview how Olympic athletes can use the next few weeks to help build their financial futures.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: Well, we want to talk about the Olympics, now one week away. And for that, we're going to bring in UBS Head of Sports and Entertainment, Wale Ogunleye. Thank you for joining us. I understand that you are helping athletes manage their money. And aside from some of the star athletes, this is very important, because they only have these opportunities once every four years. How are you going about this?

WALE OGUNLEYE: Well, one, I think-- first of all, thanks for having me. But I think for us as a firm, having the ability to understand exactly why it's important that you have the right plans in place, have the right financial advisors in place, the right people within an ecosystem, that help them take their hard-earned talents and the money they make from these talents lasts for generations to come. We talk about legacy here at our firm.

But that has to do and start with financial education. So the advice we have are best in class. And what we do is we walk our athletes through the process, teach them as they go, so they know exactly what they're investing in. And with the sport of Olympics, which comes every four years, same way for us is as athletes, they have to be ready for this.

But for us, we look at this as a day-to-day process, knowing that anything can happen in the future, and we want to plan for that. And that's what athletes tend to do, because they do that with their own careers. And with their finances, we want to make sure they do the same type of planning, and show the same due diligence with their finances that they do with their sports careers.

SEANA SMITH: Wale, what are some of the trends that you've noticed from Olympic athletes, comparing it to other professional athletes? I know you were a former NFL player. And you mentioned that difference when it comes to Olympic athletes, because it only happens once every four years. And of course, that leaves that three and 1/2 year gap in between the Olympic games.

But when we talk about some of the trends and how they differ, I guess, how are you seeing that? And I guess, to what extent does that complicate or really challenge some of these athletes, just in terms of finding and being able to get that financial sustainable path that you were talking about?

WALE OGUNLEYE: Yeah, a great question. I think for one, this is one of the-- when it comes to the Olympics, it's the height of delayed gratification, right? You've got to train for four years, and just have this small window of opportunity to make it to the big stage, right, to the Olympics. And the law that Olympic athletes may get into and what people may think is that, I've got only four years to make my money last, right?

The way we look at it, though, is, whether it's COVID, whether it's an unexpected event in your life, you should have a game plan, and not look at it just from a four-year perspective. Look at it as now is the time to start planning, getting the right ducks in a row. So that when it's time for you to make that big decision from a financial period, whether it's four years from now or six months from now, maybe starting a new family, buying a new house, you have done the due diligence that you need to do for your finances.

But more importantly, that I think from Olympic athletes that has been different from the past, is that there's a real, now, sense of being able to go straight to the marketplace of getting endorsements. Before, I grew up with people like Carl Lewis or Jackie Joyner-Kersee, there would be no way for me as a corporation to get in front of these athletes without going through a manager.

Now, with the invention of social media and Instagram, all these different platforms and mediums to get to these athletes, it's easy to jump past the middleman and go directly to the source, the athletes, and create some wealth from having sponsorships or partnerships with corporations that in the past might have been extremely hard to do. So it's a different time for Olympic athletes, but it's actually a great time to capitalize on your natural love for your sport, natural love for your country, and love for you being an athlete in the Olympics.

JARED BLIKRE: Can you tell us your personal story here? You went undrafted, and then suddenly you signed a $34 million contract. What was the difference between then and now? How did you manage your finances before you struck it big?

WALE OGUNLEYE: Wow, that's a great, great question. You know, it's hard when you've come from a place. You know, I was born and raised in New York City, parents were immigrants from Nigeria. And signing that big contract was, you know, you felt like you've made it. But the truth of the matter is, that's actually where a lot of the headaches start to happen, and not understanding what your finances are.

Simple thing of-- I'd say this all the time, but not even understanding what a basis point was. And you couldn't tell me I wasn't intelligent. I had a four-year degree from Indiana University, I played in the NFL for 11 years. I was captain, I went to the Super Bowl. I knew defenses in and out, I knew offenses in and out. But for some reason-- and which we know probably what it was, I just wasn't raised with the ability of people around me that could teach me about my finances.

But for that reason, I'd risked those $34-- those millions of dollars that I had, I'd risked that by not having the right knowledge. So I went back to school, got my MBA, so I could understand the basics of finance. And I realized that the industry has done a poor job of actually working with these athletes, these people who have brought joy and good times and family gatherings together, through understanding what finances are.

And UBS decided to create this athlete and entertainers division, knowing that they were the leaders in private wealth, but joining that expertise of wealth management and equity. So the things that I have learned over the last 20-something years in entertainment, and putting that together, we felt that this was a win-win situation to help that young person like myself, who'd came out of Indiana with all this money, but didn't understand what it was. We want to make sure that we get our FAs, who are best-in-class, in front of the right athletes and entertainers.

SEANA SMITH: Wale, you're doing so much with the help of UBS. But just quickly, I mean, what more can the leagues do? Because I think that's a big question here, especially when it comes to the NFL. We've seen statistic after statistic about the number of players that go broke so quickly. As you're taking on this job at UBS. But from the league perspective, should they and can they do more to educate the players while they're still in the league?

WALE OGUNLEYE: You know what, I think on all aspects, everyone should do a little bit more. First, I'm going to say the responsibility should lie on the player themselves, right? You're a grown person now, you've made it to the big leagues, understanding that this is a business. But also, too, if you're an owner, if you're the league, it looks good if your former players or your players are becoming these entrepreneurs, pillars of society. People who are giving back and using the talents and the money that they've created on a stage or on the field, and using that to the betterment of their communities that they've come from. That's a good look for these corporations, which are these sports leagues.

So I will say this. All over, from the athletes to the agents, to the financial advisors, to financial institutions, to the leagues, they all should do a better job of making sure that the right resources are falling in the hands of these athletes and entertainers so that they're able to affect people in the way that they want to, have positive impact, and also create legacy for their families, so that there's not this stigma of money within these communities that these athletes come from.