“When I bought the house, I did not have that intention,” says extreme sports icon Tony Hawk of the 4,000 square foot skatepark in the backyard of his Southern California home. The former owner was “a bit eccentric,” Hawk tells CNBC. “She had an in-ground trampoline with a harness.” It wasn’t until after he moved in five years ago that Hawk noticed the depth and potential of the unusual landscaping feature. A friend and designer came up with the idea to re-create it into a skatepark.
“He took it to the city as a koi pond,” laughs Hawk, about what’s now a twisting concrete multi-sport court, 8 feet deep in some curvy corners. “It was a while before someone [there] said, ‘I don’t think that’s a koi pond.'”
Hawk estimates the construction to have cost between $100,000 and $120,000, with the payoff in the privacy it affords. The 6-foot-3 Hawk is instantly recognizable to fans. “If I go to a skate park, kids expect me to entertain them, not try out new moves,” he says.
After amassing the best record in the profession he pioneered — a winning percentage that topped 70 percent of all contests he entered — Tony Hawk retired at age 31. Once his competitive career ended, the ultimate role model for laid-back skater culture became a mogul.
He’s taken his winning attitude into everything from board and apparel designer, Sirius radio host, arena tour promoter, philanthropist and video game producer. And now, he’s written a new business book “How Did I Get Here? The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO.”
His five-division empire, Tony Hawk, Inc., earned him $12 million in 2008.
While not as highly paid as endorsement king Tiger Woods, Hawk is the heavyweight brand in a sports culture with fewer superstars. From teenagers to hobbyists, skaters “are beholden to authenticity,” explains Hawk. “I’m sure when an idea will work.”
Sales of Tony Hawk-branded products, including an exclusive clothing line at Kohl’s and his own Birdhouse Skateboards, topped $275 million in 2009. His video game series with Activision has sold more than $1 billion of games since 1999, one of the industry’s most successful franchises.