JJ Watt Net Worth: How He Built a $70 Million Fortune

May 24, 2024

JJ Watt’s retirement announcement in December 2022 was met with an outpouring of admiration and respect from the football community. Over his storied career, Watt amassed a net worth of $70 million, thanks to his professional achievements and various lucrative endorsements.

Career and Achievements

Known as the "sack master," JJ Watt played as a defensive end, primarily for the Houston Texans from 2011 to 2020 before ending his career with the Arizona Cardinals in 2023. He was the first NFL player to record more than 20 sacks in two different seasons and won the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award multiple times. His prowess on the field also earned him the title of Sportsperson of the Year by "Sports Illustrated" in 2017.

"JJ Watt Plays Ball with the Kids on the Sidelines" by The Brit_2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Contracts and Career Earnings

Watt earned a total of $129 million in NFL salary over his career. His highest-paid season came in 2020, with $15.5 million from the Houston Texans. His initial contract was a 4-year, $11 million deal with a $6.6 million signing bonus. In 2014, he signed a 6-year, $100 million contract extension with a $10 million signing bonus, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback at that time.


Watt’s financial success extended beyond his NFL salary, with lucrative endorsements from major companies such as Reebok, Gatorade, Ford, and Verizon, bringing in an additional $7-$10 million per year.

Category Details
Net Worth $70 million
Primary NFL Teams Houston Texans (2011–2020), Arizona Cardinals (2021–2023)
Total Career Earnings $129 million
Highest Paid Season 2020, $15.5 million
Notable Contracts
  • 2011: 4-year, $11 million deal with $6.6 million signing bonus
  • 2014: 6-year, $100 million contract with $10 million signing bonus
Endorsements Reebok, Gatorade, Ford, Verizon (additional $7-$10 million per year)
Major Awards
  • AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (multiple times)
  • Sportsperson of the Year by "Sports Illustrated" (2017)
Real Estate Investments
  • Log cabin in Summit, Wisconsin - $800,000 (2015)
  • Texas home in Pearland sold for $465,000 (2016)
Personal Life
  • Married to Kealia Ohai (2020)
  • First child born in October 2022

Early Life and Education

Born on March 22, 1989, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Watt was involved in both ice hockey and football from a young age. By the age of 13, he decided to focus solely on football. During high school, Watt excelled in multiple sports, earning MVP and All-state first-team honors in his senior year. He started his collegiate football career at Central Michigan University as a tight end and later transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where he played as a defensive end.

NFL Career Highlights

Watt was drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2011 and quickly became a key starter. His rookie year saw over 5 sacks and significant contributions to the team's playoff qualification. His stellar performance in the 2012 season, with over 20 sacks, is regarded as one of the best seasons for a defensive end. Throughout his career, Watt made multiple Pro-Bowl appearances and earned several NFL Player of the Year awards.

"JJ Watt" by The Brit_2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Injury Struggles and Comebacks

Watt's career was also marked by several injuries, including surgeries for a groin hernia, herniated disc, back issues, and a fractured leg. Despite these setbacks, he returned to top form in 2018 with 16 sacks and continued to perform at a high level upon his return.

Personal Life

JJ Watt began dating professional soccer player Kealia Ohai in 2016; they got engaged in 2019 and married in 2020 in the Bahamas. The couple welcomed their first child in October 2022.

Real Estate Investments

Watt made several significant real estate investments over the years. In 2015, he purchased a log cabin in Summit, Wisconsin, for $800,000, featuring a 4,500-square-foot home on 35 acres. He sold his Texas home in Pearland in 2016 for $465,000, a property he had bought in 2011 for about $399,000. The home, measuring 4,169 square feet, included four bedrooms and a saltwater pool.

JJ Watt’s journey through the NFL has been nothing short of remarkable. His exceptional talent, combined with smart financial choices, has ensured his legacy both on and off the field. As he steps away from professional football, his influence continues to inspire both current players and fans alike.

JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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