An American actor, former professional wrestler, and businessman, Dwayne Johnson, once known by his pro wrestling stage name of “The Rock,” is one of the most popular performers in the world. In 2018 he earned the most of any actor in the world, $124 million.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an American actor and businessman. A former professional wrestler, Johnson is a leading member of RedBird Capital, the ownership group of the football league XFL.
Johnson’s net worth is the subject of widely diverging estimates, with some estimates around $320 million and some around $800 million as of December 2022. His greatest business opportunity right now is as owner of XFL. XFL is a partner league of the National Football League, the most profitable professional sports organization in the world.
Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born into the Anoa’i family, a Samoan professional wrestling family. His maternal grandmother's second husband, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, was one of the first Samoan wrestlers to make it big in the United States. His father, Rocky Johnson, was a Black Nova Scotian wrestler, a descendant of escaped American slaves.
Johnson was originally billed as “Rocky Maivia,” a squeaky-clean “All-American Face,” the wrestling term for a “good guy” whose character, or “gimmick,” plays on feelings of patriotism and family values. Fan hatred toward this gimmick led to “Rocky Maivia” becoming “the Rock,” Johnson’s most enduring stage name, who became a trash-talking, sarcastic “heel” in the ring.
Johnson’s talent at public speaking allowed him to create some of the most enduring and electrifying performances in the ring, and he went from the most hated person in the WWE stable to the company’s biggest star in the space of a month.
Johnson’s initial contract with WWE lasted from 1996 until 2004. During the term of his first contract with WWE, Johnson made $150,000 per year. From 2011 to 2013, Johnson returned to WWE after a seven-year hiatus and to great acclaim, winning a new championship before returning to his film career and retiring from wrestling for good. His contract from 2011 to 2013 paid $15 million per year, making him the highest-paid professional wrestler in the history of wrestling productions.
TV and Films
Johnson’s non-wrestling acting debut came in 1999 with appearances in That 70s Show (as his father, Rocky Johnson) and The Net, a television drama based on a 1996 techno-thriller movie. From bit parts on television shows, Johnson started building credibility as an actor and he made his film debut in the 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns, playing opposite Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz.
Though The Mummy Returns was not critically well-received, it was a commercial success riding on strong performances from Frasier, Weisz and Johnson, and gained Johnson an invitation to play his Scorpion King character on a return engagement the following year. The Scorpion King was a financial success and spun off a series from 2008 to 2018.
As a professional wrestler, Johnson was largely assigned opportunities for endorsements by his employer, World Wrestling Entertainment. As such, his early endorsements such as Chef Boyardee canned pasta, were part of WWE’s brand strategy. Since parting ways with WWE, Johnson rapidly expanded his portfolio of endorsed products to include Under Armour clothing, VOSS water, Termana tequila, and Ford.
Johnson’s entertainment company, Seven Bucks Productions, was founded to manage his own film portfolio and opportunities. The name is a reference to Johnson’s self-mythologized position of starting his wrestling career with seven dollars in his pocket.
Dwayne Johnson's manager, Dany Garcia
Garcia was Johnson’s college girlfriend and the two married in 1997. A business administration major at their joint Alma Mater, University of Miami, Garcia became Johnson’s business partner as well as his wife when they married. They drifted apart and divorced in 2008 but have remained friends and business partners since then.
Their daughter Simone wrestles as Ava Raine, and her business in wrestling is managed by her parents. Ava Raine is billed as wrestling’s first fourth-generation wrestler. Like many young stars, Simone operates an Instagram feed as part of her image management portfolio.
Garcia remains the primary business manager and global strategic advisor for her former husband’s business interests. She is co-executive producer of Johnson’s films through their production company, Seven Bucks.
Dwayne Johnson’s largest business move since 2020 was to purchase the minor professional football league XFL from his former employer, Vincent K. McMahon. The XFL’s image was formed before a single athlete had been drafted, based on the failed previous league of the same name and a similar ownership group. After the season started, however, observers noted a drastically improved quality of product over the previous incarnation in 2001. This inaugural season was, however, cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the XFL’s bankruptcy proceedings including the stipulation that the league could not be repurchased by Vincent K. McMahon, its founder, or WWE, its founders largest corporate holding, the future looked bleak for it, with folding and closure all but assured. Johnson, with his ex-wife Dany Garcia and other partners, formed RedBird Capital to act as the ownership group of XFL and purchased the organization in 2021 for $15 million from bankruptcy administration.
Though Johnson’s XFL holds an “experimental league” development status with the NFL, he has explicitly eschewed “minor league” status with the older organization, to retain authority over personnel decisions. With the XFL about to kick off its second season the week after the Super Bowl in 2023, this $15 million investment may be one of the greatest opportunities in Johnson’s portfolio going forward.
Over his professional lifetime, Johnson has made many donations to charity and is known for his philanthropy. One of his few high-profile donations was to a gift of $100,000 originating from a YouTube challenge game of paper, rock, scissors with YouTuber star Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson. Johnson supports a wide array of charities.
The Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, provides the normal functions of supporting children’s illness research that you would expect from a celebrity’s charitable foundation. Johnson also puts in effort toward helping men in a challenging position in life, such as prolonged unemployment or family trouble, get back into the work force and support their families. As a private charity, his foundation does not routinely file public reports, so its information on CharityNavigator is limited.
Outside of his own foundation, Johnson gives generously to the Red Cross for its blood collection and global disaster relief efforts, to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, through which children’s requests to meet with their favorite wrestler turned actor are common, and the Parkinson Society Maritime Region, researching cures for the debilitating and eventually deadly Parkinson’s Disease.
Starting as a professional wrestler after a brief and failed stint as a player in the National Football League, Dwayne Johnson has grown and diversified his fortune into a small global business empire touching fans all over the planet. He has performed in films seen worldwide and WWE wrestling exhibitions on six continents.
Johnson’s personal business empire, managed by Dany Garcia, is one of the most potent businesses owned by a celebrity today. Johnson’s personal fortune, estimated between $320 and $800 million, puts him in the upper echelon of modern entertainers.
You can also read:
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker