The funny thing about people who become rich is they often seem to develop some odd character flaw that costs them all that money they’ve made. Some celebrities and millionaires turn into addicts. Others seem to think that the money comes from some magic tap that just spills out hundreds endlessly, so they spend away their earnings on really useless things.
With athletes, there are two things that tend to be their fiscal downfall: marrying gold diggers and gambling addiction. While the former could be a whole topic on its own, this list will focus on the latter.
To try and fathom how ignorant an athlete with a gambling problem is, you have to think outside the box. Beyond those who gamble at casinos and card games, these are athletes spending millions on their belief in other players to inherently win or lose and bring them more money. It is wonderfully asinine!
What most of these athletes don’t realize is that they have a small window: they won’t be an athlete forever, and unless some future plans – acting, sportscasting – are in place, that money well is going to run dry and they’ll be left with nothing. With that in mind, here are ten athletes, past and present, who had or have major issues with gambling.
10. Michael Jordan
Okay, this one is going to get a bit heavy. The reality is, Michael Jordan was into gambling so heavily at one point, many seem to think it cost the athlete’s father his life. To truly understand this you also need to understand that, at the time, Jordan was THE man. You know when they say “You the man!”? Well, for most of the ’90s, that term was thrown specifically at Michael Jordan.
So for the world to find out he had a major gambling debt and was facing some very dark repercussions (allegedly), it really shows you how deeply rooted this problem is and just how serious it can get for some.
9. Art Schlichter
Though the name may not ring as many bells as other names on the list, Art Schlichter most certainly has a place on it. Considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history – 4th overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1982 – he blew his entire signing bonus and was already close to a million dollars in debt by the time the organisation figured it out and let him go. Unfortunately, that was not the end of his story or gambling problem.
Schlichter was arrested in 1987 for being involved with a multi-million dollar gambling ring that inevitably involved a lot of men with mustaches acting shady. He committed multiple crimes when he ran low on funds, stealing money and cashing fake checks to feed his gambling demon.
8. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods‘ addictions come in all forms. From women to gambling, he just likes to live a life of excess. While we do not know the true depths of his gambling addiction (which means he probably breaks even or maybe he even makes more than he loses), we do know that he makes a fifth of a million dollar bets on single hands of Blackjack. No, that is not a typo.
$200,000.00 on one hand.
He plays more in one hand that most of us see in years of income. Yeah, life’s fair.
7. Terrence Kiel
Not a name you would normally find listed next to such heavy weights in sports, but there are some interesting elements about Terrence Kiel that landed him here. This former Chargers player’s gambling problems got so serious, he started smuggling and dealing codeine-based cough syrup (Syzurp) to supplement his income. Lil Wayne must have been stoked.
His problem was only discovered when some thrifty mail person intercepted one of his codeine shipments. Upon confession, it was revealed he owed tens of thousands of dollars to many San Diego casinos. He sadly died in a car accident in 2008, taking his debts with him.
6. Alex Rodriguez
The thing about A-Rod is, no one is fully sure what the extent of his gambling his. People know about the cocaine-fueled Poker games, which led many to believe that the star baseball player probably also had some serious gambling issues. It makes sense, and fits the M.O. of all other athletes on list.
The difference in this story is because of the Pete Rose debacle years earlier, they may have gotten control of this situation much sooner and been able to lock it away. It’s safe to say this is one athlete who is still being eyed very closely.
5. Charles Barkley
So imagine, just for a moment, having a briefcase in front of you with ten million dollars in it. Take another moment to imagine how your life would be forever changed (as well as many lives around you). Charles Barkley admitted in 2006 that he had lost a collective ten million dollars from his issues with gambling.
Ten million dollars.
He lost that much money from betting on sports. That is enough money to feed a full third world country for a year, just to put it in perspective. His quickest loss is said to be one $2.5 million dollar single bet on a game of Blackjack he ended up losing. Come on, man, that’s just sad. Stop.
4. John Daly
This golf champ is getting tossed in here right now to make a very valid point: gambling is not about a particular sport or nationality or any such thing. It stems from these people coming into massive amounts of money and needing a thrill to get them off. One would never assume golfer John Daly would have been a compulsive gambler, but they would be wrong.
As a matter of fact, he outshines most of the other athletes on this list. How? Losing SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS in gambling across a little over a decade. It certainly makes one look at golf a little differently. It shows you no one is immune to the gambling bug.
3. Pete Rose
Before Jordan became the “it” guy to name for sports gambling, there was one who made the subject infamous among all sports fans. As manager of the Cincinnati Reds, many say he compromised the integrity of the sport and revealed an underbelly most fans were not ready to see: Pete frickin’ Rose.
Think about it for a second here: it is rumored he would suggest they do things that would lead to team losses, while he was secretly betting AGAINST his own team. Crazy stuff. The dude is infamous in all sports, as he is the only living person ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Throw shade and it gets thrown back on you.
2. Lenny Dykstra
Lenny Dykstra is a story all by himself. Nicknamed “Dude” before The Big Lebowski took it over, Dykstra was an avid gambler who at one point was offering out financial advice to people (for a price) and is now rumored to be living out of his car.
The man gambled, did some time, and the end result of his story is one that should honestly scare anyone away from gambling. You can be pulling in the millions, but if you play it wrong, you end up sleeping in your car even though you were once a professional athlete. It’s quite sad, but in all these cases, they dealt that card themselves – pun very much intended. Poor life choices lead to a poor life.
Remember that kids!
1. Michael Vick
It makes many people cringe to bring this up, and that is wholly understandable, but the world cannot forget what Michael Vick did. But in all fairness, unlike most on the list, the man did time for his crimes.
For the one of you who may not know, Vick was the ringleader of a vicious, high stakes dog fighting circuit, where many dogs lost their lives. It’s one thing to gamble away money, but to include the lives of innocent animals? Shame.