Power Players

Ex NFL star Rob Gronkowski on CBD, his biggest money splurge and Mark Cuban

Retired NFL player Rob Gronkowski.
Ilya S. Savenok | Getty Images for CBDMEDIC

Former New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski retired from professional football in March after a nine-year NFL career that included career receiving records, three Super Bowl wins, and more than $50 million in total salary earnings.

On Tuesday, the 30-year-old Gronkowksi announced that the next phase of his post-NFL career will include a partnership with CBD products company CBDMedic to create a line of topical pain treatments using the cannabis-derived compound. Gronkowski said in a press conference that his father first introduced him to a CBDMedic topical cream for use as a pain reliever (his father uses it for back pain), and the former Patriot applied it to a few bruised toes he suffered during an offseason game of pickup soccer.

CNBC Make It sat down with the man typically known, simply, as "Gronk" to discuss why he's inspired by the likes of Mark Cuban and fellow ex-NFLer Michael Strahan, the biggest money splurge he's indulged in with his NFL millions and how he became interested in CBD.

CNBC Make It: Who are the people in the business world who have inspired you the most as you enter this stage of your career?

Rob Gronkowski: Obviously, my family. My dad has been successful for the last 30 years … And, you know, I like to look at Mark Cuban, too, because he's on "Shark Tank." He's with my brother now. [Cuban and former MLB star Alex Rodriguez both invested a combined $150,000 in Chris Gronkowski's Ice Shaker business on a 2017 episode of "Shark Tank."] And just to see how successful [Cuban] is and how big of a team he has grown and put together. It's just surreal.

Since you've been watching your dad operate his business for decades, what are the lessons he imparted to you over the years about being successful in business?

He imparted [the values of] hard work and dedication, the will to get up and do something about it, not just sit on the couch and complain … Even if you're not successful on the first try, second try, even the hundredth time. You've got to keep going, you've got to keep pushing. And he still has that energy and he still does it to [this] day.

Are there any other former athletes whose post-NFL careers you to as a potential roadmap for your own next phase?

Michael Strahan. He's doing such a great job, all of the TV shows and everything. He just hosted the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice [Sports] awards … And I was captain of one of the teams and he was the host of the show. And, just watching him do it all, he was doing a great job. And seeing him on TV all the time, he's definitely someone to look up to.

Retired NFL players Rob Gronkowski and Michael Strahan on the set of ABC's "Good Morning America."
Lorenzo Bevilaqua | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

You famously saved your NFL contract money during your playing days, but I know you also said last year that you finally allowed yourself at least one major splurge, on a diamond chain necklace. Is that still your biggest splurge?

Yeah, I mean, I ain't gonna just save it all, I like to splurge a little bit … Yes, for sure [the necklace is the biggest splurge].

Can you tell me how much you spent on it?

Six figures.

Why CBD?

I've been hearing a lot about [CBD], starting this year … My first true experience with it — when I was like, 'Whoa, whoa, this stuff works!' — is when I jammed my three toes [playing soccer] and they were black and blue. I throw the [CBDMedic] cream on and, boom, it temporarily relieved the pain. I got to go through the rest of my day, put the shoes back on — because if you've got stubbed toes and put your shoe on, you're going to start walking a different way …

I knew right then and there, I was like, 'Dang, this stuff works.' [And] I was looking for something like that to help me relieve the pain that I'm in from doing activities and sports.

Inside former Patriot Rob Gronkowski's $2.3 million Boston condo
Inside former Patriot Rob Gronkowski's $2.3 million Boston condo

You've also said you're interested in exploring business opportunities with your brothers (Gronkowski has four brothers, three of whom also played in the NFL) in the fitness industry. What are you looking to do in that area?

I mean, my dad's been in the fitness world for 30 years now, selling fitness equipment. And, then we started the [training equipment] line Gronk Fitness about five years ago, and it's been doing well … And, there's another one, my brother has Ice Shaker. [Chris Gronkowski, also a former NFL player, started a business called Ice Shaker that sells stainless steel shakers for protein drinks.] It just fits our lifestyle.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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