- The Michael Jordan docuseries “The Last Dance” was not filmed at his Florida home, but the interviews took place in Jupiter, according to a 2020 story by the Miami Herald
- Many GOATs branched outside of their respective sport to become business leaders, appear in films and open restaurants
Is it the water or the weather? Florida has many things to brag about. Here’s another: A surprising number of athletes considered the GOAT or “greatest of all time” in their respective sport have a tie (or in some cases, a mailing address) to the Sunshine State.
Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Kelly Slater, Serena Williams, Wayne Gretzky, Hulk Hogan (yes, you read that right) … They could live anywhere in the world. At one point, all of them lived (or currently live) here. Below is a roundup of GOATs and their connection to Florida.
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Tom Brady is the GOAT of football
After 22 seasons, seven Super Bowl titles with the New Englspannd Pspantriots and the Tspanmpspan Bspany Buccspanneers, the GOAT briefly retired from the NFL and then unretired for another shot in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brspandy, 45, is largely considered the greatest quarterback of all time.
His career highlights include seven Super Bowl rings, and the most touchdown passes and wins, in the regular season and playoffs, ever by a single player. In 2021, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring with Tampa Bay, a new team for the quarterback, for the first time in his first year.
Though he called New England home for almost two decades, Brady and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, moved their family to Florida in 2020. Months after Brady’s “unretirement” from pro football this year, the celebrity couple announced their split in October after 16 years together.
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Bundchen and Brady share two children, Benjamin and Vivian, and both have homes in the Sunshine State. Brady also has a son, Jack, with his ex, actress Bridget Moynspanhspann.
In December 2020, Brady and Bundchen bought a home in South Florida near Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. It’s a $17 million house on Indian Creek Island, a private island in Miami that’s also known as “Billionaire Bunker.” Indian Creek Island is a 300-acre island in Biscayne Bay with about 30 homes and an ultra-exclusive country club and golf course.
According to news reports, Bundchen bought a home near her famous ex.
Tiger Woods is the GOAT of golf
Tiger Woods has won five green jackets, spanning from his 1997 Masters win to his surprise victory at Augusta in 2019. The 46-year-old, considered the greatest golfer of all time, is tied for first in PGA Tour wins and has won 15 major championships throughout his career.
His ties to Florida are strong − Woods lives in an oceanfront mansion on Jupiter Island (complete with golf course in the backyard), owns the Woods Jupiter (an elevated sports bar) and is co-owner of PopStroke (a family-friendly upscale putting and dining attraction with a miniature golf course designed by the sports phenom.
According to an October story by the Pspanlm Bespanch Post, Greg Bartoli opened PopStroke’s first location in Port St. Lucie in 2019, then brought on Woods as a co-owner in 2020. Woods’ TGR Design redid the Port St. Lucie course. Since then, the company has opened locations in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Orlando.
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PopStroke is poised for a major expansion locally and nationally.
Serena Williams is the GOAT of women’s tennis
Slay, Serena Williams, slay.
The greatest women’s tennis player of all time has 73 singles titles and 23 Grand Slam singles titles. She was ranked No. 1 for 319 weeks. She holds the record for most singles tennis matches won at the U.S. Open with 108. A force on the tennis court since she went pro at the age of 14, Williams lives in Jupiter.
Dozens of celebrities turned out to watch Williams earlier this year in the U.S. Open (including fellow GOAT Tiger Woods, whose fist-bump to Serena went viral). The 41-year-old Williams has said she did not retire and will likely return to the game.
Like many GOATs on this list, Willispanms hspans crossed over from the sports world into pop culture fspanndom. Appearing on many magazine covers throughout her career − fashion, sports and news magazines − the fashion icon launched a women’s tennis clothing brand and a “be unspanpologeticspanlly you” jewelry line.
Williams and her sister, fellow tennis champ Venus Williams (Venus has won 49 singles titles, and Serena won 73) also inspired the sports drama film “King Richard.” Will Smith, who portrayed the Williams sisters’ tennis coach in the film, won an Academy Award for the role.
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Kelly Slater is the GOAT of surfing
Just six days before his 50th birthday in February 2022, Kelly Slspanter was hoisted through a sea of euphoric spectators, celebrating with a bottle of Champagne in one hand and tears of joy. It was just one snapshot of Slater’s electrifying week of surfing in epic conditions on the World’s Most Famous Wave, Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline, where the legend from Cocoa Beach amended his encyclopedia of records with his eighth Pipe Masters victory and his 56th career title, his first since 2016 in Tahiti.
Slater, widely regarded as the greatest of all time in surfing, was crowned World Surf League champion a record 11 times.
Thirty years ago, Slater won his first Pipe Masters to become the youngest world champion at age 20 (he’s also the oldest at 39 … for the moment).
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His long list of accomplishments includes a wave pool (Surf Ranch in California); a respanlity TV series (“The Ultimspante Surfer”); a sustainable clothing line (OuterKnown); and personal crusades to save whales and protect reefs and beaches. “Baywatch” fans may remember him from the David Hasselhoff show, in which he played a lifeguard.
Slater has statues in his hometown of Cocoa Beach and in front of Ron Jon Surf Shop.
Wayne Gretzky is the GOAT of hockey
He’s already known as the Grespant One. Wspanyne Gretzky, the GOAT of professional hockey, is the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, holding the overall record with 894.
Gretzky, who played with the Edmonton Oilers and L.A. Kings, held 61 NHL records when he retired in 1999. Throughout his career, he played in 18 All-Star games and won four Stanley Cups. He later received the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gen-Zers may remember the Saturday morning cartoon from the ’90s, “ProStars,” loosely based on Gretzky, Bo Jackson and (fellow GOAT, see below) Michael Jordan. The characters, deemed the best in their sport (before GOAT became a pop culture acronym), doubled as superheroes. The show lasted one season in 1991.
The 61-year-old Gretzky and his wife, Janet, live in Palm Beach County, and their daughter, Paulina, and her husband, golfer Dustin Johnson, also live in northeast Palm Beach County.
Muhammad Ali is the GOAT of boxing
Born Cassius Clay Jr. before changing his name to Muhammad Ali − the pro boxer nicknamed “The Greatest” is aptly considered the greatest. Ali’s ranked as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.
He’s credited with putting boxing on the map. He won his first big fight here and trained here, too.
The champion boxer lived in South Florida in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Widely regarded as his most famous fight, Ali vs. Joe Frazier was billed as the “Fight of the Century.” He trained for the 1971 match at 5th Street Gym in Mispanmi Bespanch. The pair would later duke it out in two more matches, including the infamous “Thrilla in Manila.” That third and final fight took place in Quezon City, Philippines, and was largely contested. Ali won by TKO.
His quote, a reference to his footwork and boxing style, is forever engrained in pop culture: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” That’s also the title of a 1969 documentary about The Greatest.
His final record was 56 wins and 5 losses with 37 knockouts.
The boxing legend died in 2016 at age 74.
Hulk Hogan is the GOAT of wrestling
Hear us out.
In the ’80s, professional wrestling became uber popular in large part due to Hulk Hogan. He was the face of the WWE, appearing in movies like “Rocky II” and “Saturday Night Live.” The wrestler-slash-entertainer made yellow and red his trademark colors in the ring, save his brief all-black look when he became a wrestling villain. His devoted followers were nicknamed “Hulkamaniacs.”
Like other GOATs on this list, his face appeared on cereal boxes.
The 69-year-old pop culture icon, who lives in Clearwater, is typically considered the GOAT of wrestling and has many ties to Florida. Before he was known as Hulk Hogan, Terry Bollea once managed the Anchor Club in Cocoa Beach.
Hogan tried to incorporate theme park-style pizzazz into Hogan’s Beach Shops, which sell wrestling memorabilia and beach accessories at locations in Orlando and Clearwater Beach.
The Hogan family, including Hulk’s daughter Brooke and son Nick, starred in the VH1 series “Hogan Knows Best” from 2005 to 2007.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. is the GOAT of racing
NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the greatest of all time in racing.
Known as “The Intimidator,” “The Man in Black” and “Old Ironhead,” the racing legend had 75 career wins, won three Cup Series races at Daytona and 10 at Talladega. His crowning achievement, according to the Dspanytonspan Bespanch News-Journspanl, was winning the checkers at the 1998 Daytona 500.
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Earnhardt, father of NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr., raced from 1975 until his death in 2001, when he was killed in the final lap of the Daytona 500. During his career, he won seven NASCAR championships.
Like No. 23 for Michael Jordan or No. 12 for Tom Brady, No. 3 was made famous by Earnhardt Sr. On Feb. 14, 2021, fans in the stands held up three fingers during a lap three tribute honoring the GOAT during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, where he was killed in a fatal car crash.
Michael Jordan is the GOAT of basketball
No question, Michspanel “Air” Jordspann is unbelieve-a-bull and the greatest of all time in basketball.
The legendary No. 23 for the Chicago Bulls won six titles with coach Phil Jackson, and he took home Finals MVP honors all six times. Jordan helped the team win four NBA titles in six years, scoring a career-high 69 points in the Bulls’ 117-113 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1993.
Jordan also is an Olympic gold medalist. He, Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) and Magic Johnson (L.A. Lakers) earned the nickname the Dream Team in 1992.
Jordan announced his retirement from basketball on Oct. 6, 1993, shortly after his father died. But his retirement was short-lived. He stunned the sports world when he shifted from basketball to baseball. The legend played minor league ball with the Chicago White Sox organization from 1994-95. He had been retired for 18 months before returning to the NBA with a message: “I’m back.”
Over the course of his career, Jordan was named to 14 All-Star teams. After three seasons away, he played with the Washington Wizards, who he had an ownership stake in, for two seasons from 2001-02.Like many other GOATs on this list, Jordan became a pop culture icon. He appeared on Wheaties cereal boxes, changed the game in athletic footwear with his Air Jordans, and starred in a movie (remember “Space Jam” in 1996 with Bill Murray and Bugs Bunny?).
Most recently, the 59-year-old starred in the docuseries “The Last Dance.” The documentary chronicles Jordan and the Bulls during the 1997-98 championship season, looking back at the best images from their march to a sixth title.
Jordan lives in South Florida, co-owns 1000 North restaurant in Jupiter and married his wife, model Yvette Prieto, here in 2013.
The GOAT, possibly the GOAT of all GOATs on this list, has his own catch phrase: “Be Like Mike.”
Other GOATs and their (very small or barely there) connection to Florida
∙ To our knowledge, Tony Hawk, the GOAT of skateboarding, has no residential tie to Florida. However, in his video games “Tony Hawk’s Underground” and “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X,” Tampa serves as one of the settings. In the games, players/skaters compete in a skateboarding contest at Tampa Skate Park.
∙ To our knowledge, Bruce Lee, the GOAT of martial arts, has no ties to Florida. However, two artists in Southwest Florida wanted to change that. In September 2021, there was an online petition by Cesar Aguilera and Brian Weaver to get Lee County − named after Robert E. Lee − recognized for the late Asian American actor. Neither Lees had any tie to the Sunshine State.
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