There is a word for someone who comes into a massive fortune after never seeing much during the course of their entire life: New Money. Now, this is pretty easy to understand. Many athletes are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. In fact, a good number of athletes grow up poor and that poverty actually helps drive them toward their success. Many of the best athletes have had to fight for everything in their lives and that helps drive them. That drive can lead to success. And with success, in the professional sporting world, comes piles and piles of cold, hard cash.
Starting as kids, great athletes are often complete standouts. They are very popular and are showered with attention from a young age. That attention only builds as they get older. Athletes are virtual Gods walking amongst mortals. They are revered in high school and as they reach college, that attention only grows. Even before they are professionals, many athletes get their first sniff of money through pay-offs and perks. But when they go pro, they hit the lottery. And like anyone who came from so little who gets so much, they want to enjoy their treasure. They spend millions and millions of dollars. And as more millions come in, the purchases get larger and crazier. Athletes who see massive influxes of cash are inclined to spend a lot of it and spend it they do. Here, then, are 15 of the biggest purchases ever made by athletes.
15 Tiger Woods – The Compound
Tiger Woods was one of the greatest athletes in the world right up to the moment when on one fateful Thanksgiving night, his wife (at the time), Elin Nordegren, chased him with his golf club. The truth had finally come to light. Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time and a man who was seemingly invincible, was caught red-handed, cheating on his wife. After the collapse of his marriage, Tiger was never the same. Despite his career falling apart, Tiger, just a few years after his marriage came to a crashing end, purchased an insanely amazing $60 million home. The home features a running track, a four-hole golf course, a majestic pool, 2 boat docks and 5 buildings. All of this on 10 acres of ocean front property in Juniper Island. Seems like Tiger is definitely compensating for something.
14 Cristiano Ronaldo – Car Fetish
Cristiano Ronaldo is known around the world as one of the top soccer players to ever grace the soccer field. He is a legend and with that has come a massive bank account to mirror his status as one of the greatest. Ronaldo most recently represented his home nation of Portugal and finally captured a European Championship, landing the Euro Cup for his homeland. With all of his accolades, it would make perfect sense that Ronaldo is also one of the wealthiest athletes in the world with a net worth quickly approaching $200 million. With that, Ronaldo has developed a taste for some high-priced possessions. Since 2006, Ronaldo has been actively collecting expensive cars. His over $5 million fleet includes: a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 priced at $318k, a Ferrari 599 GTO nicknamed “The Batmobile” priced at $385k, a Phantom Rolls appraised at over $400k and a sick Bugatti Veyron worth a cool $1.7 million. The real question we all want to know is which car does he drive when he wants to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru?
13 Mike Tyson – Bengal Tigers
Mike Tyson has always held a special place in pop culture. The heavyweight fighter was lightning in a bottle when he emerged on the fight scene. A ferocious human weapon, Tyson pummeled opponents with a furious upper-cut that often ended fights before onlookers had a chance to find their seats in the arena. But Tyson came from the streets. He had little in the way of financial savvy. He spent and spent and when his fight career took a complete u-turn, Tyson suffered the fate of many successful athletes who misspend: bankruptcy. But one of the most legendary heavyweight champ’s craziest purchases was his equally legendary Bengal tigers. Tyson purchased the trio of big cats for $140k to keep as pets. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The cats cost $4000 a month for caring …per TIGER! That’s a cool $12K a month in feed and caring. That’s a serious bill. So when your lady suggests bringing home a cat from the pound, just think on the bright side; that paltry $50 a month in maintenance care is a cool $11,950 less than Tyson’s kitties.
12 Jack Clark – Ferrari Troubles
Of course, nice cars are a hallmark of having money. The old adage that men “compensate” for what they don’t have is a running joke made real. But men do like their toys far beyond any sort of phallic symbol. Instead, a nice vehicle is a display of success, a display of “making it.” But back in the 1990s, baseball player Jack Clark went way too far with his love of vehicles. The all-star outfielder enjoyed much of his success with the San Francisco Giants and was a home run hitting force. With big contracts in the early '90s (and we’re talking about $3 million per year which was a solid score then), Clark was rolling pretty hard. Jack Clark amassed over 17 cars, many of which cost over $100k a piece. His biggest purchase was a 1990 Ferrari F40 he dropped $717k for. Oh, and to top it all off, shortly after purchasing the car, Clark claimed bankruptcy, filing Chapter 7 in California, citing $6.7 million in debt. So in the midst of making $9 million, Clark filed for bankruptcy. Yeah…okay.
11 Latrell Sprewell – Feeding His Family
History won’t be too kind to Latrell Sprewell. The former basketball all-star had quite a career in the NBA but it was often overshadowed by his unpredictable behavior and big mouth. Sprewell was a dynamite NBA player in his prime, a big time scorer who helped the Golden State Warriors (when they were terrible) rise to prominence with a fun style of basketball that featured massive scoring. Sprewell, along with Tim Hardaway and Chris Webber comprised the dominating 3-headed monster in the Bay Area that made the Golden State Warriors one of the game’s most exciting teams in the 1990s. With Sprewell earning big money rolling into the 2000’s, his ego got the best of him. First, his purchase of a $1.5 million yacht seemed a tad extreme. And then Sprewell shockingly turned down a $21 million contract extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves with the reply that the money “wasn’t enough to feed his family.” Sprewell received a counter from the Timberwolves of $0 and no team wanted to touch the unpredictable and mercurial NBA player. Sprewell’s yacht would be repossessed and his NBA career was over.
10 Andre Rison – Bad Moon Rising
Andre Rison was a regular all-pro in the NFL and he spent 13 years tearing up opposing secondaries. He made his name as a “dirty bird” in Atlanta, a receiver known to have a chip on his shoulder. He played fearless, running routes over the middle and talking the talk all the while he did it. Rison also enjoyed flaunting his wealth. Much like his teammate, Deion Sanders, Rison was never shy about showing some bling. So when he went through bankruptcy court and they had to list his assets, Rison’s jewelry collection tallied over an astounding $1 million in value. Wearing thick gold chains with diamonds encrusted in them was the norm for Rison, who spent and spent during his lucrative NFL career. But bad luck followed him with his home burning down. Rison spent his fortune and was left with very little at the end of his career, showing that one of his nicknames- “Bad Moon” Rison- certainly was apt.
9 Evander Holyfield – The Real “Bad” Deal
Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield was a courageous boxer who regularly fought up above his weight and rode his way to numerous championship belts. Holyfield’s career soared when he and Mike Tyson clashed. The “biting” incident with “Iron” Mike only further cemented Holyfield’s legend. As legendary as Holyfield has been inside the boxing ring, outside he has been equally legendary. Holyfield has fathered at least 11 children with a variety of women. If that wasn’t enough, he spent over $20 million on a 235-acre compound in Fayette County, Georgia. If buying that massive piece of real estate wasn’t enough, Holyfield started to run into more financial troubles post-boxing career. He was incredibly sued in 2008 for $800,000 in unpaid landscaping fees. That’s right, his gardener sent him an $800k bill! But when you buy a 235-acre property (FYI, the entire San Diego Zoo is only 99 acres) you gotta know it's serious when you break out the lawnmower. Imagine trash day at that house with 700 bags of grass? Eesh.
8 Scottie Pippen – Grounded Bull
Scottie Pippen was Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman. The small forward was a premiere player in the NBA during his career in which he amassed championship after championship with the Chicago Bulls, cementing his place in history as part of the greatest team in history. Pippen has gone down as one of the best defensive players to ever step onto an NBA floor. In 2002, Pippen used a chunk of his NBA fortune to throw down $4.3 million on a Gulfstream jet. The private plane was a luxury item that most people don’t particularly need. But Pippen went for it; there was only one major problem with the jet- it needed a whopping $1 million in repairs and couldn’t fly. So buying a $4.3 million jet that can’t fly doesn’t make the most sense and Pippen sued his own lawyer who failed to properly review the inspection. He did win a $2 million lawsuit as a silver lining.
7 Mike Tyson – Splashing In Gold
Mike Tyson arrives for a second time on the list and for very good reason. The former champ had poor advisors and ran through his fortune like sand running through your fingers. Mike Tyson made millions and millions of dollars during his career and spent it almost as quickly as he got it. It’s no secret that Mike Tyson had a tumultuous relationship with his wife Robin Givens. The two of them had a very up and down relationship that culminated in her accusing the champ of abusing and raping her. Their marriage lasted just 11 months and it was clear there were two things going on. First, Givens married Tyson because she saw a golden ticket to cash. The second, Givens got more than she could handle when it was apparent Tyson had issues and she was on the wrong end of an abusive relationship. Tyson spent millions trying to appease his disgruntled gold digger. In one of the most insane purchases ever known, Tyson had a custom bath tub made of solid gold for Givens which ran a cool $2 million. Clearly, hygiene was very important to Tyson.
6 Marquis Daniels – 3-D Selfie
Marquis Daniels was a solid NBA player. After going undrafted, Daniels was able to make the Dallas Mavericks in 2003. From there, he went on to have a solid NBA career, playing for 10 years. After going unsigned out of college, Daniels was able to impress the Mavericks and would land a 6-year, $38 million contract. The contract would put Daniels into a completely different tax bracket. Off the court, Daniels engaged in a rap career, scoring some minor success. But it would be the money Daniels dropped on a 3D gold pendant of himself that was encrusted with diamonds that drew some strange looks his way. The piece of jewelry is one of the most expensive selfies of all time, coming in at nearly $50k. In Daniels’ defense, selfies weren’t as big a deal back when he had the custom piece of jewelry done, and he probably didn’t realize he could have just taken a picture with his future self as opposed to the incredibly expensive piece of man-jewelry.
5 Gilbert Arenas – Shark Tank
Gilbert Arenas has been known for numerous follies over the course of his NBA career. Arenas was a highly efficient and successful NBA player during his career. Arenas, nicknamed “Agent Zero,” was always unpredictable as evidenced by his hot and cold relationship with Laura Govan. With four children together and accusations of cheating flying in both directions, their relationship has been difficult at best. In addition to his troubled personal life, Arenas got arrested for gun possession. And in addition to throwing himself a $1 million birthday party for himself, Arenas purchased some prized sharks. The sharks themselves cost a pretty penny but what was worse was the cost of their upkeep. At over $6k a month for feeding and maintenance, that put Arenas in quite the hole just to watch some swimming fish.
4 Jarrett Jack – Shoe Collection
Jarrett Jack is a successful NBA point guard. He entered the league back in 2005 coming out of Georgia Tech. Jarrett Jack has largely remained out of the public eye during his NBA career. He was pulled over once for a possible DUI but his blood alcohol proved to be just below the legal limit so those charges were dropped. He has amassed over $30 million during his NBA career. He isn’t a high-flying $100 million man, but that hasn’t stopped Jack from spending on one of his biggest obsessions. Jarrett Jack, and many other NBA stars, are obsessed with shoe collections. Jack has been collecting them for years and now has over 1,500 pairs of shoes that have cost him over $375k. Now that is one crazy shoe collection.
3 Al Jefferson – Sleeping In Style
People can be very particular about their sleep. Sleep is one of the most important parts of a person’s daily routine. Getting a good night’s sleep helps the body recover and feel fresh for the day ahead. With the importance of this aspect of living, professional basketball player Al Jefferson greatly values his sleep. Jefferson has had a very good professional career and most recently signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Indiana Pacers. The solid NBA player used some of his wealth to have a custom bed built for himself. The bed is an incredible 10 feet by 12 feet (eat your heart out California kings!). The bed cost exactly $23,287. The bed can literally fit Jefferson and the entire Indiana Pacer cheerleading team. The really tough thing is going to be when Jefferson needs to buy sheets. Looks like he won’t be hitting Walmart for those.
2 Terrell Owens – Bingo!
Terrell Owens was quite the player during his NFL football career. He also had a personality and mouth to match his giant-sized talent. His ego often got the best of him during his career. Despite all the drama “T.O.” did some major damage to defenses on the gridiron. During Owens’ career, he amassed millions of dollars; 70 to be exact. These days, mired in debt with an estimated net worth of $0, Owens is scrambling to sell properties he is defaulting on. In 2011 he told the child court that he had no means of payment. That brings us to one of T.O.’s epic disasters. Owens, during his time of making NFL bank, decided to invest in a bingo hall. The hall cost T.O. an estimated $2 million. The only problem was that the bingo hall was essentially illegal in the state of Alabama and the property lost most of its value for T.O. The bingo-less bingo hall proved to be just another one of his poor decisions during his adult life.
1 Curt Schilling – Video Killed The Baseball Star
In what has to be one of the greatest failure ventures of all time, former baseball Cy Young winning pitcher Curt Schilling found himself mired in the middle of a money pit investment that proved to be one of the worst investments ever. At its core, the idea wasn’t completely terrible. Schilling wanted to use a lot of his fortune and his namesake to start a video game company. However, the project proved to be too big and too much for the former baseball star. 38 Studios LLC was supposed to be the next big video game company. Schilling moved the company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island as part of a $75 million loan guarantee from the state’s Economic Development Corporation. The company developed 2 games, only one of which ended up getting released. Financial woes and the massive scope of the two projects took the company down (it was mismanaged from the start). In addition, the company defaulted on the state loan and Schilling claims to have lost his entire personal fortune of $50 million in the process. One of the two games did get released to minor success (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning). However, the company couldn’t survive to complete the second game, and thus earned Curt Schilling the top spot on the biggest investment failure of all time.
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