November 25th, 2011
05:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) – These days, anyone who’s anyone in the entertainment industry has their own clothing line, energy drink, or at the very least, perfume. Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming is kicking it up a notch, releasing a wine bearing his name.

The 2009 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon is produced by Yao’s own Yao Family Wines and will be auctioned off at a charity event held by the Special Olympics.

“Basketball gave me the opportunity to live in the United States and discover many wonderful things in America. Now I look forward to bringing great wines from California back to the Chinese people,” Yao said in a statement.

There are only 1,200 bottles of the wine in existence and at 3,800 yuan  ($597) each, none will be sold on the open market, China Daily reported. On Sunday, the wine will be auctioned at a starting price of 60,000 yuan ($9,429).

Proceeds of the auction will go to the Special Olympics and the Shanghai Special Care Foundation, a charity for special-needs children, according to the South China Morning Post. Yao is a global ambassador for the Special Olympics.

Some of Yao’s fans are worried he is becoming too involved in business.

“I am afraid that this will slightly lower his public standing,” Jiang Decheng, a man who has been a fan of the basketball star for about 10 years, told China Daily.

Since retiring from basketball in July due to injuries, Yao Family Wines is only one of Yao’s many projects. He owns and manages the Shanghai Sharks, the team he played for as a teenager and is currently pursuing a degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s economics school. He is also involved in a wide array of philanthropic work under his Yao Ming Foundation.

“Although some other sports stars have explored new lines of work after retirement, Yao is one of the few who can do everything so brilliantly,” Ma Guoli, chief executive officer of the China branch of Infront Sports and Media AG, told China Daily.

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Nice

    Nice to see Yao Ming is donating proceeds of the auction to the Special Olympics and the Special Care Foundation. For those fans who are worried about Yao getting too involved in business, go and get a life. This is Yao's life, and if he wants to make the most of every opportunity that he's been blessed with, I say why not? If he's not hurting anyone in getting involved in business, then why try to deny him the opportunity??

    November 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  2. JohnnyBKK

    I'm not certain as to how much of his NBA salary Yao was able to keep for himself, but I'm sure he's very comfortable. Why not go into business? He seems to be balancing his sports retirement nicely with philanthropic causes as well as tapping into a huge growing demand for wines in China. Hopefully it is better than most of that local swill I've sampled over there.

    November 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  3. gabe noble

    good for him. wine is awesome and the NBA is non-existant...live it up YAO!

    November 26, 2011 at 5:00 am |
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    A very interesting guy. Lots of good plans and goals. Some of his new marketing goals may have to do with his new wife....families need to plan for a long future.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
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    me la suda....

    December 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
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