Richardson’s business career really begins at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where he set all kinds of football records as a wide receiver. He then played two years in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts, in 1959 and 1960. He didn’t become a star, but he did catch a championship-winning pass from Johnny Unitas.
Richardson took his bonus from winning that game and began a series of business moves that turned him into a multi-millionaire.
While Richardson was playing football, over in Greenville, a man named Wilbur Hardee took a look at what McDonald’s was doing in pioneering fast food and decided to give it a try. Yes, he created Hardee’s.
Richardson and business partner Charles Bradshaw (his quarterback at Wofford) became the first franchisees. They opened a shop in Spartanburg in 1961, and ultimately grew their restaurant chain to encompass more than 500 Hardee’s in about a dozen states.
Within 15 years, Richardson and Bradshaw had named their business interests Spartan Food Systems Inc. and turned it into a publicly traded company. They bought the Quincy’s Family Steakhouse chain and ultimately sold their business Trans World in 1979. Both of them stayed on as senior executives in the company as it went through a series of business permutations, acquisitions, leveraged buy-outs and spin-offs.
Richardson eventually became CEO of Flagstar, then South Carolina’s largest publicly traded company, and ran the Denny’s restaurant chain. He oversaw 123,000 employees and $3.7 billion in revenue at one of the largest food service companies in the world.
In 1993, toward the end of his career, Richardson and several investors paid the NFL $206 million to create the Carolina Panthers as an expansion team. That may have proven to be the most shrewd business move he made. The Panthers are now worth north of $1.5 billion,according to Forbes.
In 2007, Richardson became an investor in a team that purchased Charlotte-based Bojangles‘.
VERSE: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” Psalm 150
QUOTE: “A person who loves his job, will never work a day in his life.”
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