Newcastle, Arsenal, Chelsea, Bournemouth, Bayern Munich are only a few examples of clubs Johnny Vegas’ clients play for. The 31-year-old American lives the lifestyle of high-calibre footballers while organising everything from their holidays to Stag Dos.
Ena Bilobrk spoke to the young entrepreneur about the crazy lifestyle of today’s top athletes, how he got into the business and why he calls former and present Newcastle players Achraf Lazaar and DeAndre Yedlin his brothers.
“I take money out of my pocket to satisfy millionaires. But they don’t ask me to do that. I do it because I want to show them I’m real, I’m genuine”, Vegas says as he explains his booming success.
Wearing a black leather jacket, black trousers and black sneakers, the “footballer-whisperer” doesn’t look like your average businessman. There is something so light-footed and simply cool about the way Vegas strolls through the streets of London. It becomes clear why many high-profile athletes would like to be in his presence.
“I should be at the London Fashion Week right now with Danny Williams and DeAndre Yedlin, but I had an important appointment with another client”, he grins suspiciously sitting down in a cafe for a cup of tea (black, no sugar).
Vegas does not only work with footballers, but with a range of elite sports stars from England Rugby, NBA and NFL.
He explains: “I was born and raised in Vegas, so Johnny Vegas is my social name — that’s what I’m known for”.
“At 19 I didn’t really know what to do, so I got into the Casino business. I worked as a valet attendant at the Bellagio Hotel, meaning that I had to park cars. I started meeting people like Mayweather, for example. You meet a lot of people, a lot of celebrities and I learned that I am good at talking”.
He continued: “Then I met a guy named Kamal. I told him my favourite player is Frank Ribery and then he said, ‘No way. You like Frank Ribery? That’s my bro’. I was thinking ‘Yeah, okay’. Because everybody talks — it’s Las Vegas, so people can sell you something that doesn’t even exist”.
A year later, Kamal returned with a little bag that contained the signed jersey and shorts of Frank Ribery. Vegas told him, “Hey, listen, anything you need in Las Vegas, I will take care of it for you”.
Kamal was so impressed with everything Vegas did for him and his friends that he said eventually someone special will call him.
Vegas chuckles: “I was with my mother when I was phoned by an unknown caller ID. I usually wouldn’t pick it up but she made me do it, you know, you have to listen to your mum.
“The person on the phone said, ‘Hey, how you doing, my name is Samir Nasri and I’m coming to Vegas’.”
He organised the Manchester City star’s holidays and was soon approached by many more:
“It became a domino effect. Theo Walcott came to Las Vegas to do his stag party so the guy I was working with asked me to help them to do that. Today I handle people you can’t even imagine”.
After clubbing on a Sunday night, one of his clients wanted to jump into a private jet instead a taxi. Vegas booked it on the spot, jetting from Las Vegas to Miami the same night:
“That was crazy for me, dropping everything and leaving with a client like that with no plan and no hesitation”.
Vega’s success is evident. His bold diamond ring brightly sparkling in contrast to his plain clothes gives you a glimpse of Vegas’ lifestyle. Yet the smiley, talkative and charismatic young man stays humble:
“Obviously I can’t afford a Lamborghini. But the greatest thing about it is I make it happen. I’m the guy who makes sure the player gets that product. So the reward for me is to be in it and to drive it. It’s my lifestyle without me paying for it. But I worked for it.”
He has worked with the biggest names in football, but no matter how much you love your children, you will always have your favourites. When Vegas met Yedlin and Lazaar, he met his family.
“Although DeAndre is younger than me, he is a guy I look up to because the way he carries himself, the way who he is as a person”, he smiles.
Talking about Lazaar, he gets emotional: “And Achraf gave me something I don’t think I could ever give him back: it is that trust, that loyalty and belief in someone. I gave him my word and here I am with him today accomplishing a lot of things”.
They literally go through thick and thin together and the trio has realised a lifelong dream of setting up a charity. The J.L.Y. Foundation (Johnny, Lazaar, Yedlin Foundation) collaborates with Support Ethiopia to bring clean water to a village and prevent kids from dropping out of school.
“I don’t see them as football players. I see them as my brothers, my family. Whatever they need, there is no price tag on it. If I am able to make it happen, it’s gonna happen”.
Featured Image © COPYRIGHT JOHNNY VEGAS