We all think it would be great to be famous. Movie premiers, trips around the world, having your pick of whatever gender it is you prefer. Not to mention millions upon millions of dollars. That last one is probably the main reason any of us fantasize about being a celebrity. The adoration and legions of fans would be great, sure, but what we really want is the large bank account. Freedom from the stresses of paying bills and worrying about whether or not you’ll have enough money for your rent at the end of the month.
Believe it or not, not all famous people are exempt from the money struggles the vast majority of us face on a daily basis. There are dozens of former millionaires who made their fortune in the entertainment industry only to blow it all on fast cars, multiple mansions, and wild parties. Many of these once-famous bums were forced to file for bankruptcy and now scrape by on what little money they can earn from movie cameos and appearances on celebrity editions of TV game shows. It’s kind of depressing, really, but at the same time, you just can’t help but watch as these stars continue to fall from grace.
Here are 15 broke celebrities who are poorer than you right now.
Sinbad was one of the biggest names in comedy during the early 1990s. He was featured on The Sinbad Show, which ran from 1993 to 1994, and starred in several sub-par films such as Jingle All The Way, First Kid, and Houseguest. Unsurprisingly, Sinbad’s work was not well-received by critics and it wasn’t long before his reputation as a respectable comedian diminished and he was viewed as a studio hack, wheeled out to make movies for the dumbest of kids. However, making movies for children is a lucrative business and Sinbad quickly accumulated a net worth of millions of dollars.
One of Sinbad’s greatest mistakes was assuming his act had longevity. After a couple of years, the public grew tired of his antics and his work dried up. A series of increasingly poor investments drained his fortune and in April 2009 it was reported that he was more than $2 million in debt to the IRS.
14 John Cleese
John Cleese is comedy royalty. A living legend. A titan of the entertainment industry. He was a founding member of groundbreaking British sketch troupe Monty Python and was the driving force behind many of the team’s finest sketches. After the desolation of the Pythons, he went on to forge a successful career as a solo writer and performer.
Cleese should be immensely wealthy after such a successful career, and in a way, he is. He certainly has a great deal of money going into his bank account every year. However, the vast majority of that money goes to his various ex-wives. After a string of very public divorces and some very one-sided alimony rulings, Cleese shells out a crazy percentage of his annual income to keep former spouses happy. In an attempt to meet his alimony payments, he has been forced to work on countless projects of questionable quality.
Fans of professional wrestling will recognize Virgil as the former assistant of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. During wrestling’s Golden Age, Virgil was tasked with carrying DiBiase’s coat, as well as performing other demeaning tasks. He was eventually taken out of that storyline and given a push as a singles competitor, but that didn’t pan out and he was fired from the then World Wrestling Federation shortly after.
Unlike many of his co-workers, Virgil did not put a great deal of effort into planning for his future when he was working with the WWF. In fact, it seems he didn’t save any of the money he earned while working alongside The Million Dollar Man. As a result, Virgil can be seen at wrestling conventions across America, charging fans upwards of $20 for a picture with him. He has even been known to sell his wrestling memorabilia in the New York subway in an attempt to make some quick cash.
12 Andy Dick
Andy Dick is famous for… Actually, I’m not really sure how Andy Dick became famous in the first place. However, I know that in recent years the vast majority of his publicity has come from getting drunk and doing wacky, eccentric, creepy, and generally inappropriate things in public. Just a couple of Dick’s most noteworthy offenses includes exposing himself in a McDonald’s, groping a patron of a bar before going after the bartender, and drunkenly harassing Ivanka Trump on a 2007 edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live! His struggles with alcohol and drug addiction have been much publicized and have landed him behind bars on multiple occasions.
Thanks to a slew of legal troubles and an inability to pull himself out of the reckless lifestyle he created for himself in his younger years, Dick has been struggling financially for some time. Despite being involved in show business in some capacity or another for decades, he is believed to have a net worth of just $5000.
11 Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson likes to refer to herself as “the world’s first supermodel”. Obviously, this is disputable as she came along around the same time as a lot of other supermodels, including the far superior Christie Brinkley. What can’t be denied, however, is that Dickinson made millions of dollars over the course of her career. Equally indisputable is the fact that she cut through that money like a hot knife through butter. Dickinson spent her money as fast as she earned it, blowing millions on mansions, alcohol, and lavish parties. Of course, the older Dickinson got, the harder model work was to come by and eventually she wasn’t earning any money to spend. She wound up in debt to a variety of people and was forced to sell off her possessions in an attempt to make ends meet. In 2013, Dickinson filed for bankruptcy with the media reporting she owed nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes and plastic surgeon bills.
10 Bill Cosby
In 2015, Janice Dickinson managed to get her name back in the papers when she joined the scores of women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but Bill Cosby is one of the most successful comedians of all time. His early stand-up turned him into a household name and laid the groundwork for a career which would change television forever. The Cosby Show, generally considered to be Bill Cosby’s greatest contribution to the entertainment industry, brought in millions of dollars for the star and quickly made him one of the wealthiest comics in the history of showbiz.
For years, Cosby was plagued by allegations of sexual abuse, but almost all of them disappeared as quickly as they surfaced. However, it all came to a head towards the end of 2014, when dozens of women came forward together to accuse the comedy juggernaut of spiking their drinks and raping them while they were unconscious. Cosby was arrested that December and released on $1 million bail. Since then, the comedian has used up a large portion of his fortune to defend himself in court. It has been estimated that the entire Cosby fortune could be used up by the time of his trial later this year.
9 Wesley Snipes
Wesley Snipes is a hero to fans of comic book movies all over the world. He has performed in countless big-budget motion pictures, the most famous of which being New Jack City, White Men Can’t Jump, and the Blade film trilogy. Snipes has made millions of dollars in his acting career, and yet he has had some of the most publicized financial issues of any celebrity in recent memory.
In 2006, it was revealed that Snipes had fraudulently obtained millions of dollars through tax refunds. In April of 2008, he was sentenced to three years in prison for knowingly filing false income tax returns, a sentence which he started in 2010. Snipes was released from a federal prison in 2013 but is embroiled in a heated rivalry with the IRS to this day.
8 Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of his time. Throughout the 1990s, he made millions of dollars playing for a number of teams around the United States of America. He also added to his fortune through a brief career in professional wrestling, though that didn’t turn out to be quite as successful as his basketball career. Rodman has been plagued by legal issues for much of his life. He has been arrested countless times and has paid thousands of dollars, if not millions, in bail and legal fees. He has also squandered much of his fortune on drugs and alcohol. The full extent of Rodman’s financial troubles was not known until it was revealed that he was unable to pay $1 million that he owed in unpaid child support.
7 Allen Iverson
In keeping with our theme of basketball players going broke, let’s talk about Allen Iverson. It is believed that Iverson made over $200 million during his career, yet he is said to be almost completely broke today. Iverson is a victim of pride and is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t be careless with your money. During the height of his fame, Iverson lived a life of indulgence. He would drop close to $50K a night on visits to strip clubs and once commissioned a mansion which boasted drainpipes forged from pure copper. It is unsurprising, then, that after a messy divorce, the NBA legend found himself completely tapped out. Iverson stands to earn a couple of million dollars from a Reebok trust fund when he turns 55. At just 41 years of age, however, the basketball star has a long wait ahead of him.
6 Lindsay Lohan
Nobody was ever going to accuse Lindsay Lohan of having the greatest financial mind in the world, but it takes a particularly irresponsible person to blow through a fortune in the way that she did. At one point, Lindsay Lohan had a fortune so vast it couldn’t be accurately estimated, though it was up there in the high millions. However, she blew much of her net worth on a lavish lifestyle, dropping hundreds upon thousands on designer clothes and routine nights out. Having such great wealth at such a young age has rarely done anybody any good, and it wasn’t long before Lohan became another victim of early fame. She has been publicly struggling to make ends meet for a number of years now. In 2012, it was reported that things had gotten so bad for Lohan that she was forced to turn to friends in order to pay her $8000 rent. Charlie Sheen even gifted her $100,000 during her darkest hour, but later claimed Lohan never even thanked him for his generosity.
5 Mike Tyson
If it wasn’t for that pesky Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson would probably be considered the greatest boxer of all time. Of course, Tyson is a little bit more difficult to like than Ali, owing in no smart part to his violent history. Tyson is known for being something of an uncontrollable animal in the ring. In perhaps the best example of his extreme violence, he severed the ear of Evander Holyfield during a bout in 1997 and was fined $3 million for the incident. He also spent a period of time in jail after being convicted of the rape of an 18-year-old girl.
Despite earning over $300 million during his career, Tyson today claims to be flat broke. It seems that the same poor decision-making capabilities which landed Tyson in jail in the early 90s have driven him into poverty. He squandered his fortune on mansions and wild parties, and, perhaps most famously, on a variety of exotic pets.The former Champion of the World recently had his debts to the IRS forgiven, though is reported to still be struggling to get by.
4 OJ Simpson
Another disgraced athlete, O.J. Simpson never quite had the same insane net worth as Mike Tyson, but by no means struggled for money during the height of his fame. Simpson earned millions of dollars as a football player and as an actor. However, his career came tumbling down when he was arrested for the murder of his wife and put on trial. On October 3rd, 1995, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Simpson was acquitted of the murder. Two years later, however, he was forced to pay $33.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. This, unsurprisingly, devastated Simpson financially. Unable to secure any work, he defaulted on his mortgage and had to resort to selling autographs to make ends meet. Even this didn’t keep Simpson out of the poorhouse and he eventually turned to breaking the law in an attempt to make back his fortune. In 2008, Simpson was charged with a multitude of felonies and sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
3 MC Hammer
If I were trying to explain the 1990s to my eight-year-old nephew, I would log onto his beloved YouTube and show him the music video for "U Can’t Touch This", the 1990 song which turned MC Hammer into one of the most famous men on the planet. I would then load a video of Charlie Chaplin’s silent classic The Tramp to give him an idea of what MC Hammer is doing now.
Despite selling more than 50 million records worldwide, MC Hammer has very little to show for it these days. Hammer was incredibly irresponsible with his fortune and squandered much of it on a lavish lifestyle. He dropped millions of dollars every year on horses, helicopters, and a house staff of 200 people. The money he didn’t spend on frivolous goods and services he wound up paying out in a series of legal cases; most notably in a lawsuit with Rick James, who accused Hammer of plagiarizing "Super Freak" in his song "U Can’t Touch This".
2 Chris Tucker
Comedian Chris Tucker is most famous for starring alongside Jackie Chan in the martial arts action comedy film franchise Rush Hour. Somehow, the Rush Hour films proved incredibly popular and Chris Tucker managed to accumulate a massive net worth of several million dollars. In 2014, Tucker found himself in a spot of bother with the IRS, which isn’t the kind of organization you want to be on the wrong side of. He was left devastated when it was announced that he faced a tax bill of $14 million. A representative of Tucker claimed that the comedian had not made a conscious effort to defraud the government and was instead the victim of an incompetent financial management team. Tucker built up the massive debt over seven years and was forced to pay every cent back to the United States government.
1 50 Cent
I’m going to try my hardest to avoid making a joke about how Curtis Jackson has literally become 50 Cent. Such a joke would be immature and insensitive and would serve no other purpose than to elicit a cheap laugh or two. Then again, that seems to be the only kind of laugh Mr. Jackson can afford nowadays. In 2015, 50 Cent filed for bankruptcy, claiming a series of poor financial decision had drained him of the millions of dollars he had made during his recording career. During this period, Jackson was quizzed by a skeptical judge, who noted the star was regularly posting pictures of himself surrounded by massive piles of money despite claiming he was unable to pay his debts. Jackson admitted that the money in question was little more than prop currency which he used to cultivate a certain image for himself.