It is well known that athletes, for the most part, make a substantial yearly salary. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown made NFL headlines recently after he signed a four-year, $68 million extension with the team. This deal made Brown the highest paid wide receiver in the history of the sport, as he brings home an average of roughly $17 million per year.
While this may or may not be the case with Brown, when one is in the spotlight as much as professional athletes are, it almost feels necessary for some to play the part of the high roller. When one turns on any sports channel, many times you see biographies on athletes. A lot of them have nice cars, houses, clothes and jewelry, as the lavish lifestyle seems to be a prerequisite to being a top-notch professional athlete.
Between lawyers, investors and general financial common sense, one would think that their yearly salary alone is enough to live off. These athletes should still be able to maintain an extravagant lifestyle, all while saving money for when it is time for the player to retire. However, many times this is simply not the case. Ever since players began signing lucrative contracts, quite a few athletes have somehow found a way to blow their fortune.
Whether it is through bad investing, bad luck or just plain old reckless spending, a decent number of athletes have been more broke than you are. Below is a list of 15 athletes who, at one point in their life, have filed for bankruptcy.
15. Latrell Sprewell – Former NBA Player
When you think of former NBA players who blew big money, Latrell Sprewell is perhaps one of the most famous ones. The former guard/forward had a pretty good career, making an estimated $100 million over a span of 13 professional seasons.
However, in 2005, Sprewell’s life began to go downhill. After refusing a 3-year, $21 million deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was not signed by anyone else. Sprewell went on to state that $21 million was not enough to feed his family.
It wasn’t long before Sprewell made financial news again. In 2007, Sprewell saw his house become repossessed. He also failed to make his $1.5 million mortgage payment and was sued for $3 million in back taxes.
14. Michael Vick – Former NFL Player
At one point, Michael Vick had it all. As perhaps the NFL’s most electric player to ever play the quarterback position, Vick dominated the position with his elite speed and talent. For his efforts, he was paid quite handsomely. In 2004 the southpaw quarterback signed a 10-year deal worth a total of roughly $130 million with the Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately for Vick, it was his off the field habits that got him into troubles.
In a 2007 case that sparked outrage, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison after numerous charges that stemmed from a dogfighting operation in which he was a major part of. While in prison Vick filed for bankruptcy protection, and when he was released he owed roughly $18 million to creditors.
13. Sheryl Swoopes – Former WNBA Player
A WNBA icon, Sheryl Swoopes is widely considered the greatest women’s basketball player of all time. While WNBA contracts are notoriously low, Swoopes was a women’s basketball pioneer. Due to this, Swoopes signed a $50 million deal in 2006 with Nike to get her own shoe – the Nike Air Swoopes.
Unfortunately for Swoopes, her fortune disappeared quickly. Due to a combination of bad investments and a poor legal team throughout her entire career, Swoopes declared for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004.
12. Evander Holyfield – Former Boxer
Perhaps best known for having his ear bitten by a man who or may not be on this list later, Evander Holyfield was a fantastic boxer and former Olympian who defeated some of the greatest boxers of all time.
According to some, Holyfield made roughly $513 million over his career. During the infamous “Bite Fight”, Holyfield was paid a reported $35 million. However, he quickly found that money evaporating, and by 2008, he was forced to sell his home and auction off pretty well everything he owned that was of value.
11. Mike Tyson – Former Boxer
Surprise! Mike Tyson is on this list. Considered by some to be the most powerful boxer of all time, Tyson made over $300 million throughout his career. A man who was never afraid to speak his mind and cause controversy, Tyson dominated the sport at a very young age.
As a young man with a lot of money, Tyson spent his money like it grew on trees. However, any person who buys a Siberian Tiger just because they can is bound to blow their money. All of this reckless spending, as expected, backfired on Tyson. The heavyweight filed for bankruptcy in 2003 – before he officially retired from boxing.
10. Antoine Walker – Former NBA Player
Antoine Walker is quite the decorated player. Walker won both a NCAA and an NBA championship throughout his basketball career, all while appearing in three NBA all-star games. As all accomplished athletes are, Walker was paid quite well.
Over his NBA career, Walker made an estimated $100 million. However, Walker had an extremely expensive taste. Rumored to have never worn the same suit twice, it was only a matter of time before Walker saw all his money swish away. In 2010, Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with roughly $8 million dollars in debt.
9. Darren McCarty – Former NHL Player
Darren McCarty was a hockey player who made roughly $15 million over his NHL career. He was a player who was known to be tough as nails and played the game hard night in and night out.
Unfortunately for McCarty, addictions got the best of him. McCarty was hooked on both gambling and drugs and eventually saw all his money disappear. McCarty was also accused by the IRS of failing to pay his taxes, a feat that is only accomplished by a bankrupt and delusional individual.
8. Dorothy Hamill – Former Figure Skater
A former professional figure skater, Dorothy Hamill is also a famous 1976 Olympic champion. She is also another famous athlete who saw her fortunes dwindle.
In 1996, Hamill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, what differs in the case of Hamill in comparison with many others on this list is that she is not really all to blame. Hamill blamed her ex-husband as the reason for her bankruptcy, claiming that he convinced her into awful business decisions.
7. George Best – Former Soccer Player
George Best is a Manchester United legend. The former soccer player was born in Northern Ireland in 1946, and over his career as a professional earned north of $100 million. However, the lavish lifestyle of being a professional athlete hit Best hard.
Best was a known alcoholic during his playing days. He never let anyone slow him down, quoted as saying, “I was born with a great gift, and sometimes with that comes a destructive streak. Just as I wanted to outdo everyone when I played, I had to outdo everyone when we were out on the town.”
6. Lenny Dykstra – Former MLB Player
Lenny Dykstra is a former MLB outfielder that played for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies over his 11-year career. Over a successful tenure in the major leagues, Dykstra made a lot of money. In fact, in 2008 he claimed he had a net worth of $58 million.
However, 2008 must have been a rough year for the “dude”, as in 2009 he filed for bankruptcy and also lost his house. The years following 2009 did not seem to treat him any better, as in 2012 Dykstra was sentenced to six-and-a-half months in prison after being found guilty of a few charges, one being bankruptcy fraud.
5. Diego Maradona – Former Soccer Player
Known most for his infamous “Hand of God” goal where he used his hand to score the game-winning goal, Diego Maradona is considered by many to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Over his career, Maradona made a lot of money. In fact, at one point he was the highest paid soccer player in the world. Unfortunately for Maradona, his newly found money made her crave a lavish lifestyle.
In fact, he spent so much money he didn’t have enough left over for taxes. The Italian government claims the Argentinian soccer legend owes the country over $50 million in unpaid taxes.
If someone lets their debt get to $50 million, chances are you won’t be seeing a penny from them, simply because they don’t have it. With a net worth of $100 thousand, Maradona let the spotlight get the better of his finances.
4. Marion Jones – Former Sprinter
Marion Jones was a champion track and field athlete and basketball player in the WNBA. An American hero at one point for her three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics, Jones had a fall from grace after she admitted to using steroids during her track and field career. Subsequently, she was stripped of her medals.
In 2006 Jones had run into some financial issues when her house was foreclosed due to a substantial amount of debt. Jones’ mansion was worth 2.5 million when she went broke. At one point, it was reported that Jones had only $2000 in her bank account.
3. Tony Gwynn – Former MLB Player
The man affectionately known as Mr. Padre due to his lifelong career with the San Diego Padres, the late Tony Gwynn was a fan favorite in southern California. Not only was he a fan favorite, but Gwynn is also known as one of the best contact hitters in the history of baseball. If you can hit the ball, chances are you are going to get paid. This was the case for Gwynn, but unfortunately for him, he had a really bad agent.
During just his sixth season in the league, Gwynn and his wife filed for bankruptcy due to agent Lew Muller’s poor handling of Gwynn’s money. Gwynn went on to fire Muller, and the city of San Diego rallied behind their shining star.
2. Johnny Unitas – Former NFL Player
Johnny Unitas is, quite simply, an NFL legend. Not only was he one of the most famous quarterbacks to ever play the game, he was a pioneer for the way the game is played today. In a time where football consisted of mostly running the ball, Unitas came in and brought a pass-happy offense.
While in Unitas’ day there were not massive contracts given out, Unitas still had a lot of money due to his fame. However, Unitas eventually blew all his money. In 1991, Unitas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is said that Unitas lost a lot of his money while investing in a circuit board manufacturing company.
1. Lawrence Taylor – Former NFL Player
Lawrence Taylor, or more well known as L.T., was a nightmare for quarterbacks and opposing offenses during his NFL career. The NFL legend is widely considered one of the best to ever play the game, winning the MVP title as a defensive player for his efforts during the 1986 season with the New York Giants.
However, Taylor has made quite a few poor decisions in his life. Between problems with the law and the banks, Taylor does not have the best reputation off the field. After making good money during his playing career, Taylor flushed it all down the toilet.
The Hall of Fame former Giants linebacker was behind on his mortgage payments, with approximately $350,000 due. To avoid losing his house, Taylor filed for bankruptcy. Now worth only $100 thousand, Taylor is living with and paying for his past mistakes.
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