In the world of sports, there's an unspoken rule: the more money you earn playing, the more you are expected to maintain a certain lifestyle. Not everyone professional athlete adopts this viewpoint, of course; but enough of them do to support a niche industry that caters to rich people who are blessed with extraordinary physical talents.
That's why you hear about some athletes dropping major coin on fancy mansions. Or buying horrendously expensive vehicles that they may not even drive around. Or sparkling jewelry for their lady friends (or themselves). Or the finest apparel, much of which must be tailored to fit their unique bodies anyway. Or pricey jets, tricked-out boats, or even private businesses. (And you wonder why so many of them go bankrupt!)
And then there are those superstars for whom even the finer things are not fine enough. They want to be completely original, and they express this desire through some of the purchases they choose to make. Not only will they throw money at something, but they'll make darn sure that the target doesn't resemble anything else that his peers - or for that matter, any sensible individual - would care to obtain.
Certainly, athletes aren't the only types of people on the planet who have more money than sense. But because of the specific circles in which these players "play," their unusual choices tend to stick out more than some of the superfluous purchases made by other wealthy people. The end result is even more stories for the have-nots like us to envy and/or scoff at.
This list consists of ten thoroughly outrageous purchases that have been made by actual athletes. Note that traditional possessions like homes, boats, and the like have largely been excluded, even though they may carry exorbitant price tags. We're going for originality here, and these men deliver in spades.
10. Alfonso Soriano, MLB: Blue Hummer
This is the only street-legal athlete purchase on this list, and it makes an appearance simply because of the amount of customization that Soriano put into it. For starters, it's VERY blue. It came with a metallic hood cover emblazoned with the player's name and number along with a baseball and bat. Its Pirelli Tires had 24-inch Dub Spinners, and the interior featured multiple video screens and DVD players. But the most outstanding feature was the wall of speakers in the back of the Hummer that completely blocked the view of the window - you know, so the jams could be heard by everyone except those actually traveling inside the vehicle. Soriano reportedly spent over 100 grand on this baby in 2009, but it made an appearance on eBay a few years later for just $36,000.
9 Bubba Watson, Pro Golfer: Golf Hovercraft
With a name like Bubba and the stereotypical consumer proclivities that go with it (Watson also purchased the original General Lee car from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series), it shouldn't be surprising that the Masters winner's new toy would have a hearty dose of redneck in it. Watson had the on-course hovercraft designed especially for him. Instead of wheels, the vehicle travels along surfaces atop a large rubber "ring." This enables it to glide over greens and fairways without causing tire damage - and travel into both bunkers and water hazards! The craft reportedly cost somewhere around $58,000, and at least one course followed Watson's lead by purchasing one for members to rent out (at $230 a pop).
8 Shaquille O'Neal, NBA: Circular Superman Bed
You know how some children have their obsessions with superheroes? Well, O'Neal is a huge "kid" with a large amount of disposable income, and he happens to like the Man of Steel. So he buys a lot of Superman-themed items for his crib. The most unique is a 450-square foot bed that's round instead of rectangular. It reportedly set him back about $15,000; and of course, it has the Superman logo stamped right in the middle of it. It's big and strong enough to handle any person(s) or object - though it isn't kryptonite resistant (naturally!).
7 Bart Scott, NFL: Koi Pond
No, this isn't one of those small, in-ground koi ponds that you often see in backyard Zen gardens. Scott wanted to go all out, so he enlisted the aid of the staff of "Tanked," the aquarium-themed program on Animal Planet, to trick out a koi pond that was better suited to a mansion-sized property. The result? A 450-gallon, bi-level pond with circular edges, brick trim, and fountains that could be illuminated with colored lights. And the pond had glass-plated sides so the fish can be viewed easily while they swim underwater. Scott dubbed the project "Club Aqua," and it blows away anyone's puny indoor fish tank.
6 Gilbert Arenas, NBA: Interior Shark Tank
For Arenas, fish are apparently too girly for him (though I'll bet Bart Scott would kick his ass if he said that to him). So shortly after he signed a contract extension worth $111 million, he decided to model his Great Falls, Virginia mansion after the music video for "Hot in Herre" by Nelly - which included installing three large aquaria filled with black-tipped reef sharks. One tank is in his rec-room, another near the pool's swim-in grotto, and the third one sits right in the foyer's entryway. The tanks reportedly require about $5,000 a month in maintenance, but if you can afford the $3.5 million mansion (which Arenas put up for sale), you probably can absorb the upkeep costs.
5 Darnell Dockett, NFL: Pet Alligator
If you don't want to be one of those humdrum Americans who owns a dog or a cat, why not get something a little more edgy? As the story goes, Dockett visited the Florida Everglades and was nearly bitten by a gator at an animal park, so he did what any logical-thinking person would do: he bought one. Dockett then Tweeted a photo of him holding the (approximately) seven-foot gator, whose mouth was secured shut. Predictably, the purchase of the alligator (who was named Nino) drew the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who sent a nasty email to the Cardinal lineman. We think it might be kind of cool to own a gator. Imagine all the fun times playing "fetch" with live chickens.
4 Mike Tyson, Boxer: White Tigers
And then there is Iron Mike. With all of the colorful and unorthodox decisions he has made over the last couple of decades, it's easy to forget about the trio of white Bengal tigers that he purchased back when he was flush with prizefighting cash. The cats themselves reportedly cost $140,000, but given that they consume roughly 40 pounds of raw meat per day, just feeding them runs another 60 grand a year. Add in about $48,000 in other care-related costs and $125,000 a year for an animal trainer (so the champ doesn't get his ear bitten off, you know), and it's easy to see why Tyson eventually sold the tigers in favor of less costly pets.
3 Jose Canseco, MLB: Fainting Goats
However, Tyson's tigers do not represent the weirdest pet on this list. Last November, it was reported that Canseco and his girlfriend Leila Knight were pulled over by police, who discovered two pet goats in the vehicle. Actually, the so-called "fainting goats" were legit: Knight said that the she and Canseco had driven to Round Mountain, Nevada to purchase the two female miniature silky fainting goats (price tag: $350). The goats are so named because when they panic, their muscles freeze for around ten seconds due to a genetic disorder, which usually leads to them falling over in a "faint." Knight told a reporter that she and Canseco were going to name the goats Coco and Chanel (how original), and that she was going to dye their ears pink. Of course she will.
2 Marquis Daniels, NBA: Necklace Fashioned in the Image of Marquis Daniels
Psychologists would have a field day trying to analyze the meaning of the former Milwaukee Bucks' shooting guard's purchase. While it's not uncommon for ballers to order custom bling, it was Daniels' choice to create jewelry in his own image that stands out. Daniels went to jeweler-to-the-stars Jason of Beverly Hills to customize a three-dimensional diamond-and-gold pendant which bears a
striking passing resemblance to the former Auburn standout. Black diamond chain dreadlocks and porcelain eyes accent the laser-imaged head that was constructed using 1,300 grams of white and cognac diamonds and 14-carat gold. A price was never reported, but it easily would have set Daniels back tens of thousands of dollars (if not more). Not to mention that the piece would have a VERY limited resale market.
1 Jerome Williams, NBA: personal mascot
Everyone would love to have their own sidekick. But ex-Chicago Bull, Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams went one step further and decided to obtain his own personal mascot (Did you immediately think of Dr. Evil and Mini Me?). Since Williams was known as the Junkyard Dog, he though it would be appropriate to "purchase" someone who would act like an NBA mascot - only for Williams himself. On second thought, having your own mascot that you could send to meetings, practices, and press conferences might come in pretty handy and free up some time in your schedule. Jerome Williams, you are ahead of your time.