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Over the course of his career in professional baseball, Alex Rodriguez received more than $400 million in salary, according to tallies.
Now, in a new show he’s hosting for CNBC, Rodriguez is helping fellow athletes — and entertainers — who have struggled to keep their financial houses in order after leaving their chosen sport or field.
“For whatever reason, I was thinking of life after baseball in my rookie year, when I was 18 years old in the major leagues,” Rodriguez tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I think my greatest gift is that I was lucky enough to play for two and a half decades in the MLB, and I had an opportunity to make every mistake in the book, and I probably did that. I learned from those mistakes and I grew my knowledge and I practiced and learned more. I’m a student at heart and I continued to learn and surround myself with really great people.”
Rodriguez hopes to use that knowledge as he helps athletes like Ryan Lochte and entertainers like actress Nicole Eggert in a four-episode run of the CNBC show Back in the Game, which debuted last week and continues Wednesday night.
Fellow athlete-turned-media-star Michael Strahan serves as an executive producer and was “very, very involved” in picking the actors and entertainers who will benefit from Rodriguez’s “trusted team of experts” as they launch new careers, rebuild their reputation and try to get on a more sound financial footing.
Lochte, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer who has been suspended for the last few years, tells Rodriguez that downsizing from a large house to a small apartment has been a “kick in the balls.”
“When you see players go from rags to riches to rags, it’s tough to see,” Rodriguez says. “Over the last decade or so, I’ve found myself in a position where I was taking a lot of phone calls from players in the game, from athletes in the NFL, NBA, soccer. In sports, you help out your colleagues. That’s very natural.”
He calls the athletes and entertainers selected for the show, including former boxer Evander Holyfield, “really good people who ran into some really difficult times.”
Rodriguez, who also serves as an analyst for Fox Sports and Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, is a busy guy, so he’s not sure whether the show will become part of CNBC’s permanent lineup. (The network also has to like it, of course.)
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to spread a great message,” he says. “The question is: Do I have time to continue? But I really enjoy the process. I really enjoy seeing four people turn their lives around and really mature in a very short period of time. It’s very rewarding for me to come back and pay it forward.”
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