When you think of athletes, you think of strong, powerful people who have a little money in the bank. Athletes are celebrities in our culture and for some reason, we as a society think that celebrities have it all, which in a lot of ways they do. Athletes are at the top of the food chain and although some earn more than others, the respect they receive from fans is all the same.
However, we tend to forget that celebrities are people, normal human beings who make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes have an impact on their finances. Sadly, a lot of great athletes who have reached a great amount of wealth in a fast amount of time have had a difficult time managing that money. Just because you are talented in sports does not mean you are good at managing money. Athletes, more so than any other form of celebrity, find it hard to go from humble beginnings to lavish endings without making a few investment mistakes.
From NBA stars to figure skaters, this list is complete with athletes who did not make the most of their fortune. Some were greedy while others just managed their money poorly.
16 Raghib “Rocket” Ismael put his trust in the wrong people
Raghib “Rocket” Ismael was a star football player for both Notre Dame and the Dallas Cowboys. The receiver received one of the largest 3-year deals in football history and his lifetime earnings are somewhere around 20 million dollars. When it comes to Ismael's financial downfall, there were no drug charges or jail time, simply bad business moves.
Financial vultures took charge of his earnings by convincing him on what they said to be “sure thing” investments. Ismael ended up playing two years in Canada and 10 in the NFL, earning himself a salary of over 18 million dollars. After that, he started investing in a bunch of things like Rock n’ Roll Café, COZ Records, nationwide phone-card dispensers and calligraphy proverbs kiosks.
Nowadays, he does a sports talk show for the Dallas Cowboys and watched every dollar he makes. Ismael has done a lot of soul-searching and has managed to get a second chance, not at the same amount of money, but still at a chance to make a good and honest living.
Ismael has come a long way and something tells me he truly regrets trusting the wrong people. That is what happens when you earn a lot of money, people begin to use you and the good people like Ismael are usually the ones to get used.
15 Marion Jones and her big mistake
Marion Jones was at a time viewed by the world as an athletic goddess. The three-time Olympic gold medalist earned an estimated 7 million dollars per year which is a lot of money.
Marion Jones, however, had a little secret. She had a slight affair with both substances and taking part in fraud in more than one way. She definitely decided to stray a little on the wild side of life, and that did not work out for her.
She was once known as the fastest woman in the world, now she is known as a lady who had a lot of crime rings going on, a woman who cheated and of course, a woman who got caught. After she was indicted, all of her medals were taken away from her, and she ended up serving 6 months time. Not to mention the fact that she went completely bankrupt. Talk about karma coming back to bite you! This is yet another case of greed getting the best of you and believing that a lot of money is still not enough. People often allow themselves to be taken over by this notion of not having enough, and most of the time, it does not end well.
Moral of the story, always earn an honest living and do not get greedy…oh and don’t do anything illegal!
14 Evander Holyfield has 11 kids to take care of
Remember when Mike Tyson bit off a guy’s ear during a fight? Well, that guy was Evander Holyfield.
Evander Holyfield is a four-time heavyweight champion of the world. Throughout his career, he is said to have earned approximately 250 million dollars. He is known as quite the talented boxer and his lifelong accomplishments prove that. Holyfield had incredibly dealt with video games, Diet Coke, record labels and appeared in many television shows and films.
I bet you are wondering how he lost all of his fortunes; well the answer is simple- kids. Holyfield fathers eleven children, yes… that’s right, eleven kids. Apparently, when you make that kind of money, you don’t bother wearing protection.
“I’m not broke; I’m just not liquid,” stated Holyfield in a previous interview. The athlete claims that when he avoided charges, he was about 9 thousand dollars behind in child support payments. The banks ended up foreclosing his 10 million dollar home. Workers that did odd jobs for him claimed to have never gotten paid. A landscaping firm claims that he owes them 500 thousand dollars for yard work.
He is apparently known for bailing out on payments, and the fact that he has, makes me dislike him a little bit.
13 Bjorn Borg liked to party too much
Bjorn Borg is a tennis legend. Under his name, he has 11 Grand Slam titles and he was at one time known as the worlds best tennis player. In an interview at the height of his career, Borg stated “My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.” This says a lot about his character at the time.
Throughout his career, Borg made quite a bit of money. He earned about 4 million dollars from the sport and another 4 million in endorsements per year.
Sadly, Borg got a bit lost after retiring from tennis. Borg began using substances and eventually went a little too far. Some believe it was an attempt to end it all however, he denies that it was. After that, his wife left him, leaving him heartbroken, and he then began to court a string of clothing lines, which failed miserably. Finally, many years later, he began a successful underwear line and a dating site that has taken him to a much better place financially.
12 Scott Harrison vs the law
Scott Harrison is known to the world as the first Scottish boxer to gain the World Boxing Federation featherweight title. Throughout his life of boxing, he is said to earn a little over 5 million dollars.
Harrison is known as the pride of Scotland but sadly, he had a problem with using too many substances, which usually come hand in hand with having problems with the law. The 2003 world champion went off the deep end and in 2006 he pulled out of a fight to check himself into rehab.
Unfortunately for him, it did not work. Later that year he was arrested in Spain with auto theft and assault charges. Sports officials stripped him of his title as well as his license to box for not showing up for a fight and weigh in.
In early 2007, police arrested Harrison for having valium on him as well as police assault, refusing to leave a pub and resisting arrest. Only a few short months after that, he was arrested again for starting a fight in a brothel. By July 2007, Harrison declared bankruptcy due to unpaid taxes…how pathetic.
Harrison wasted his talent and platform over his anger and addiction. I just hope he is doing better and on a more positive life path.
11 Scottie Pippen owes 5 million dollars
Scottie Pippen is a 6 time NBA champion with Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls forward has earned about 120 million dollars throughout his career and is viewed as a legend in the sport. Pippen opened up about that time of his life and stated, “Yes, I think the '96 Bulls are the greatest of all time. I think the 72-10 record speaks for itself and the fact that we were able to cap it off with a championship. What it boils down to is we had a dominant style, a dominant defense, and we were a very good offensive team. It was the way we dominated the opponents that separated ourselves.”
Pippen tried but did not succeed to sue his former law firm for losing 27 million dollars of his money in poor investments.
In 2007, sometime around the time of Pippens failed NBA comeback, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that Pippen owed more than 5 million dollars.
Although Pippen is not broke, he certainly is not where he should be in financial terms. Trusting the wrong people and poor decisions are what leads most of these athletes to lose their money. Pippen learned the hard way and I hope he trusts fewer people at this point in his life.
10 Mike Tyson was busy buying exotic animals
If you do not know who Mike Tyson is, you have clearly been living under a rock your entire life. Tyson is known as one of the most notorious boxers in the history of the sport. At the ripe age of twenty, in the year 1986, he achieved the record of the youngest boxer to become IBF, WBA and WBC champion. If that does not refresh your memory maybe this will, he is the boxer with a tattoo around his eye.
Tyson had a great career, fighting in over 100 pro matches and even holding the heavyweight championship on numerous occasions. Throughout Mike Tyson's career, he alone earned more than 400 million dollars. Even with all that cash, Tyson declared bankruptcy before retiring from the sport.
Tyson blew his fortune on anything and everything money can buy. From jewelry to flashy cars and exotic animals, Tyson was not smart with his earnings. In Tysons defense, he did have some trouble with promoters and even filed a lawsuit again Don King, his former promoter in 1998. Regardless of that, there is no excuse for Tyson to have gone through that much money in so little time.
9 Allen Iverson is drowning in debt
Allen Iverson’s story is one that pulls at my heartstrings for some reason, probably because it is such a typical story of egos and greed. At only 6 feet tall Iverson was a shooting guard. There was a time when Iverson was the highest earning basketball player in the world, with a salary of a little under 21 million in 2008 and 2009, which is truly a lot of money. There is a good documentary called Iverson on Netflix, which goes into a lot more detail of how he got to this point in his life. Although he hit hard times, he should not be in the financial situation he is currently in.
Sadly, in 2019, Iverson's wife Tawana decided to call an end to their marriage after 8 years. When the divorce happened a different light was shed on Iverson’s financial situation and that light was not a flattering one. Apparently, he was broke and drowning in debt. He was greedy, to say the least. He lived above his means and it came around to bite him in the tail like it does for most people who do so.
His ego and greedy personality got the best of him, sadly.
8 Terrell Owens was forced to file for bankruptcy
Terell Owens was an incredible wide receiver in the NFL. For over 15 seasons Owens impressed the world with his athleticism as well as his heart while playing the game. He was also popular for his wide range of end zone celebrations after touchdowns. Sadly for Owens, he was not as good with his money as he was on the field. Despite earning an estimated 80 million throughout his career in 2012 Owens was forced to file for bankruptcy. Blaming his downfall on bad investments, poor housing markets and about 50, 000 dollars of monthly child support payments.
Owens went on record about his financial situation and stated “Everything that I've gone through since the end of 2010, from me finding out about my financial adviser stealing, mismanaging my money - that affected everything, from child support, mortgages, to me having to sell my properties, me being in and out of court trying to modify my child support. It's a lot to deal with at one time.”
For some reason, I feel bad for Owens. Something tells me that he was taken for granted and his years of hard work and dedication were simply thrown out the window as he lost close to all of his earnings.
7 Michael Vick had poor judgment
Michael Vick is a well-known quarterback who played for the Philadelphia Eagles, The Atlanta, and the New York Jets. Throughout his career, he surpasses 100 million dollars in career earnings, which is insane considering he spent two years of his playing days in prison.
That’s right, for two years Vick was imprisoned on charges related to a dogfighting ring. Vick opened up about the experience stating, “The first day I walked into prison, and he slammed that door, I knew the magnitude of the decision that I made, and the poor judgment, and what I allowed to happen to the animals. And, you know, it's no way of explaining the hurt and the guilt that I felt. And that was the reason I cried so many nights.”
In 2008, while Vick was taken in, he filed for bankruptcy protection, convincing his creditors to restructure his debt. Through living on a budget of 300,000 $ since he was released from prison, it is said that he had paid back pretty much all of the 18 million dollars he owed.
Vick's poor judgment changed his life forever and he should be used as an example for those who believe that they will get away with the things that Vick did.
6 Diego Maradona got caught up in taxes
Diego Maradona is known to many as one of the best soccer players of all time. The winner of not one, but two of FIFA’s 2000 “Player of the 20th Century” award, Maradona has had quite a life.
Not only does the world know how talented he is but he himself knows it. Also, Maradona stated in an interview “There would be no debate about who was the best footballer the world had ever seen - me or Pele. Everyone would say me.”
The Argentinian football player is known around the globe for his talent and has even earned 3 million dollar coaching salaries. As gifted as he is when it comes to soccer, the same can’t be said about his talent in managing his earnings.
According to the Italian government he owes over 50 million dollars in unpaid taxes. This is from the time he played in Napoli from 1984 to 1991. Maradona has coughed up some expensive jewelry, however, nothing more than that. It is crazy to think how irresponsible he must have been to have done that or maybe he thought because of his celebrity status he would not face consequences. But boy was he wrong!
5 Lenny Dykstra claimed to be a victim of mortgage fraud
Lenny Dykstra always seemed as though he had it all figured out. The Major League Baseball player had a career that lasted him from 1985 until 1996 playing for both the Mets and the Phillies.
In the year 2008, the athlete listed his net worth as 58 million dollars. In 2007 he spent about 18.5 million dollars on a mansion in Thousand Oaks California and owned his own website for investing in ideas, he owned a high-end lifestyle magazine designed for athletes called Players Club and he had his own financial column on TheStreet.com.
However, in 2009 things started to go south for the famed athlete. Dykstra claimed to be a victim of mortgage fraud and ended up losing his home to foreclosure and later filed for bankruptcy. Dykstra listed 50,000 dollars in assets and between 10 to 20 million in liabilities.
As if things could not get worse, in 2012 he was sentenced to spending six and a half months behind bars for bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and concealments of assets. It is crazy to think that someone with so many people looking up to him can end up doing things that are able to tarnish a reputation as badly as he tarnished his.
4 Antoine Walker and his love for casinos
Antoine Walker is a three-time NBA All-Star as well as NCAA and NBA champion. Throughout his career, Walker earned a little more than 108 million dollars, that’s right, 108 million dollars. He earned that throughout the 13 years of his career. Although he made an insane amount of money, Walker did not invest it properly. Walker loved designer clothes and was known for never wearing the same suit twice. Standing at an impressive 6 feet 9 inches, this basketball player also loaned money to a lot of friends and family members.
In 2009, everything came crashing down for Walker when he was taken in for writing over 1 million dollars in bad checks to various Las Vegas casinos.
In 2010, the athlete filed for bankruptcy and has now joined forces with Morgan Stanley where he provides insight to financial advisors as well as clients.
There is a documentary about his financial downfall. It is called “Gone In An Instant” is something you should watch if you are curious to know more about his life and how he got to this point. Walker has worked hard to right his wrongs but there is no way he is racking in the kind of money he once was.
3 Darren McCarty is now working at a pawnshop
NHL players statistically do not make as much as stars on other professional teams. Darren McCarty was the exception to that rule. The four-time Stanley Cup winner earned more than 15 million dollars throughout his career. Known as a tough-nosed “enforcer” on the ice, this hockey legend should have been able to retire comfortably and live a nice life after retirement.
Darren McCarty made enough money to live a life of comfort and luxury and instead he decided to go a different route. Instead of playing golf like most retired hockey players, McCarty fell under the influence of partying and substances and in 2006 he was already filing for bankruptcy even before retiring from the sport.
After that, the IRS accused him of failing to pay his taxes. In 2012 McCarty was seen on episodes of Hardcore Pawn. That’s right, three years after he hung up his skates; he was working at the pawnshop.
It boggles my mind to think someone with so many opportunities given to him could literally throw it all away for a “good time”. McCarty stated in an interview "I'm a firm believer that everything in life works out the way it's supposed to. And who knows? I figure I've got a few years left (in the NHL) and maybe I can come back in the end." So I am guessing things worked out for him just the way they were supposed to.
2 Dorothy Hamill's husband encouraged her to make bad choices
“If I'm on skates, I feel at home no matter what I'm doing. If they wanted me to sing and dance I think I could do it just because I was on skates. When I'm not on skates, though, I feel very strange.” This is a direct quote said by Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill.
The figure skater, who took him the gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck Austria was one of the worlds most popular athletes. In 1993, a survey done by the Sports Marketing Group of Dallas placed her level of popularity above Michael Jordan.
Hamill signed a 1 million dollars per year contract to skate for the Ice Capades. This was a franchise that she later came to co-own. With that being said, her financial future seemed to be set, however, that was not the case.
In 1996, the figure skater was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. She blamed her estranged husband for convincing and pushing her into bad business decisions. Hamill tried her best to keep her legacy alive and she continued to tour as well as perform on television. In 2007 she published a book, which landed a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list. The book was titled A Skating Life: My Story.
Hamill loves skating more than anything and said the following in an interview, “If I'm on skates, I feel at home no matter what I'm doing. If they wanted me to sing and dance I think I could do it just because I was on skates. When I'm not on skates, though, I feel very strange.”
1 Sheryl Swoopes had bad investments
Sheryl Swoopes has a lot of talent. The WNBA player was known for both her passion for the game and her technique on the court.
As we all know, the salaries in the WNBA are significantly lower than those in the NBA. In 2014, the maximum salary in the league was 107,000 dollars but Swoopes was earning over 50 million. There was a time when Swoopes was the definition of womanpower. She was an example to women and especially women of color all over that they too can make their dreams come true.
How did she do that you ask? Well, the Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP became the first female basketball player to lend her name to a running shoe: Nike Air Swoopes. At the time, it seemed as though Swoopes was unstoppable, however, after a series of poor investment choices in combination with bad lawyers and agents, led her to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004.
This is a really sad situation. In 2009 when Swoopes was 37 years old she was cut from the Seattle Storm. Her financial situation was so bad she could not even afford to pay rent… I mean, how terrible is that?
Sources: Time, TheSportster, Ranker