Kevin O'Leary reacts to 4 impromptu 'Shark Tank' style pitches from Olympic and Paralympic athletes: 'Don't do it'

Shaun White & other Olympians on the best financial advice they ever got
Shaun White & other Olympians on the best financial advice they ever got

Over the course of his business career, Kevin O'Leary has learned that running a successful company requires a relentlessly dedicated mentality – similar to that of elite athletes.

So when we asked four athletes from Team USA what they'd pitch as a business if they were on a reality show like "Shark Tank," Mr. Wonderful himself, Kevin O'Leary, was game to give his take on their ideas — just for fun.

O'Leary was particularly enthused because he's worked with an Olympian before: He co-founded O'Shares, his ETF investing firm, with former Olympic skier Connor O'Brien. Elite athletes already have some attributes of successful entrepreneurs, O'Leary says.

"It's so hard to become an Olympic athlete, in terms of dedication," he tells CNBC Make It. "You need that kind of discipline and focus to actually go to work and realize how hard it is [to] become an entrepreneur."

Here are the impromptu ideas from the Team USA athletes, and O'Leary's two cents.

Hockey player Brianna Decker

Decker's pitch: The 'Sit Number' couch and chair
"My dad actually came up with the idea a couple weeks ago. You know how they have, like, Sleep Number beds? They should have Sit Numbers, where you can change the firmness of couches and chairs."

O'Leary's reaction: "The bedding industry, the upholstery industry, is a massive, massive market, and that's good. But you have got to be more specific, in terms of how you enter the market with that. That's not going to be an easy one."

O'Leary's advice for standing out in such a competitive market: "You have to be hip to social media. You have to be able to acquire customers with great taglines, great ideas, great visuals, great demonstrations. And use Instagram and TikTok and LinkedIn. All of that is very much part of what I like to invest in."

Luger Chris Mazdzer

Mazdzer's pitch: A tutoring business for reality TV stars
"I really like MTV's 'The Challenge.' Being a math teacher, I think there's a huge need in that game for people to understand math. So, I'd create a tutoring business for them." (Note: According to Team USA's website, Mazdzer is a mentor for Classroom Champions, a nonprofit that partners Olympic and Paralympic athletes with students and teachers in underserved communities.)

O'Leary's reaction: "Math and reading scores are absolutely crucial, and actually, financial literacy is a big problem in America. In states like New York, Texas and California, they're trying to get lessons about debt and credit cards and finance into schools. He's on the right track, that's for sure."

Sled hockey player Josh Pauls

Pauls' pitch: A family-inspired tomato sauce
"I want to sell my tomato sauce – jar it, can it, send it all over the country. My mom taught me how to make it, and my grandmother taught her to make it. Since it's a family recipe, I think it would be cool to share that with the world."

O'Leary's reaction: "Don't do it. There are so many sauces and so many grandmothers and so many secret recipes. That market is saturated, slow and hard to get into."

Luger Summer Britcher

Britcher's pitch: A greeting card business
"I want to start a quirky greeting card business."

O'Leary's reaction: "I already have an investment in one called Lovepop Cards. The greeting card business – the good news there, is it's coming back... It's just gotten really hip to send somebody a card or give them a card with a bottle of wine or cake."

Watch the Winter Olympics Feb. 3-20 on NBC and Peacock.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that Josh Pauls is a sled hockey player for Team USA.

Disclosure: CNBC Make It parent company NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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