In the 1990s, when interest in skateboarding waned, so did Hawk’s income.
As skateboarding developed a negative reputation in the early 1990s, Hawk started to see the impact on his own wallet.
“My income was literally dropping in half every month,” Hawk told CNBC in 2019. “And people just weren’t buying skate stuff, nor Tony Hawk stuff.”
He took on skate demo jobs that provided about $100 a day. At one point, he was surviving on a $5-a-day Taco Bell allowance.
He stayed focused. He refinanced the house and founded Birdhouse, a skateboard team and company, with fellow skater Per Welinder in 1992, preparing for skateboarding to make a comeback.
As skateboarding regained popularity with the creation of the X Games, Hawk’s Birdhouse became a mainstay brand.
The X Games were founded in 1995. The event poured new life into the skateboarding industry.
Birdhouse then became more than a skate team — it started producing boards and accessories around 1993 or 1994. Hawk told Rolling Stone that, at the time, he was “just calling shops and saying … ‘You wanna buy a board or two?'”
Hawk also created his own clothing line in 1998, which he then sold within two years to Quiksilver for an undisclosed amount. Hawk’s clothing sales in 1999, before he sold the line, hovered around $1 million.
Hawk reaped a number of endorsements as skateboarding hit mainstream popularity.
Hawk’s 2002 Bagel Bites endorsement earned him a bit of backlash at the time and accusations of “selling out,” he told AdAge in 2019. He teamed up with Bagel Bites again for an ad campaign last year.
While the values of Hawk’s individual endorsements are largely unknown, a 2008 USA Today profile asserted Hawk made “millions of dollars” from his corporate sponsors and marketing deals.
Hawk made a deal with Activision to create the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game series in 1999, the same year he landed the 900.
Hawk told CNBC was offered a flat fee of $500,000 to put his name on the Activision game. He turned the deal down, and instead asked for royalties, which was a gamble.
It paid off. The franchise has surpassed an estimated $1.4 billion in worldwide sales as of 2019, according to Hawk’s website.
The first editions of the game earned Hawk royalties of more than $6 million per year in the early 2000s.
Hawk has made a number of interesting investments across industries, including in a coffee chain and in tech companies like DocuSign.
Hawk founded a video production company called 900 Films in 1999, named for his famous move, originally geared toward filming skateboarding.
Hawk was an early investor in California’s Blue Bottle Coffee chain, which was sold to Nestle in 2017 for $500 million. He, and other early investors including Bono and Jared Leto, likely received a nice payout.
Hawk was also an early investor in Nest, which was acquired by Google for $3.2 billion in 2014. He has also invested in a San Diego brewery called the Black Plague. He told Reuters in 2017 that he has also invested in “DocuSign and a few other tech companies,” because he like startups and “being on the ground floor of stuff.”
These days, Hawk’s family is based in San Diego.
His home base is in Encinitas, California. The private home is equipped with an infinity pool that overlooks San Diego and its own skate park, according to a 2015 GQ profile. It’s filled with art Hawk has collected over the years — including a framed image of his “Simpsons” cameo that is signed by the cast.
Hawk also reportedly purchased a three-unit apartment building in Detroit in 2016 for an undisclosed price, according to the Detroit Free Press. (Hawk’s wife, Cathy Goodman, is from the Detroit area.) They reportedly planned to rent two of the units and keep another available for Hawk family visits to the area, the Free Press wrote at the time.
Hawk, who has been married four times, has four children and two stepchildren from his marriages.
Although Hawk isn’t as prominent a public figure as he was at the peak of skateboarding’s popularity, he’s good natured about it.
Hawk frequently takes to Twitter to joke about being mistaken for other celebrities, particularly in airports.
—Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) March 21, 2017
He previously told Business Insider’s Meredith Cash that he is often confused for legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady. He assumes this particular confusion happens because “they know there’s some sports star whose name starts with a T.”
“I get recognized all the time, to the point where it’s kind of strange. I never imagined I’d ever be famous from skateboarding,” he told Cash. “But it’s cool!”