To call boxing legend Mike Tyson’s personality enigmatic would be a gigantic understatement. He’s a convicted rapist, he bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a WBA Heavyweight Championship fight in 1997 that led to him being banned from professional boxing, and he once pushed his girlfriend down a flight of stairs. Oh yeah, and he also threatened to eat your children. But what’s just as ridiculous, if not more so, is how recklessly he has handled his finances.
Not exactly known for being the most frugal of multi-millionaire athletes, Tyson has made headlines for buying exotic pets, million-dollar bathtubs, and boatloads of cars – about 110 of them in all. The Holyfield incident led to his boxing license being revoked, as well as a fine of $3 million plus legal costs. In other words, Mike Tyson has taken extravagance to a whole new level through his many strange purchases – not to mention a divorce settlement that set him back $9 million – that have altogether contributed to his eventual filing for bankruptcy in 2003.
If you don’t believe that Tyson actually owned tigers, you only need to watch his cocaine-addled cameo in The Hangover Part II for proof of his tiger love. The purchase of three white Bengal tigers Tyson owned for about a year was extravagant to say the least, each tiger costing $70,000 to own, and an additional $200,000 in food. That's over $1500 a day in tiger chow! Tyson also hired an animal trainer at the cost of $125,000 a year to take care of them whenever Tyson was in Las Vegas.
Since these tigers each typically consume about 40 lbs of meat per day, and beef often costs around $3.87 per pound, the price tag of feeding the tigers a diet of only meat would have come up to $60,000 per year. Fun fact: There are only a few hundred Bengal tigers left on Earth and the species is classified as endangered. Just to care for and keep the tigers in his home set Tyson back about $4,000 per month, and he eventually sold them in favour of pets that were less costly to own. As for where the tigers are now? Well, one of them was sold to an Indiana tattoo artist, who kept it and three other tigers in a cage behind the tattoo shop he owned – until they were confiscated by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in 2010.
When Tyson married his first wife Robin Givens, he decided to profess his love in the form of a $2 million bathtub he bought her for Christmas one year. However, his marriage to Givens was violent, turbulent and full of accusations of spousal abuse and Tyson being mentally unstable. It came to an end in February 1989 after just barely over a year. Givens would later describe her courtship with Tyson to Barbara Walters as being “torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine.” I guess the expensive bathtub wasn't enough to hold the marriage together. Tyson ended up selling it earlier this year to English billionaire Derwood Hodgegrass for almost half the price he had initially bought it for.
If exotic animals and lavish bathtubs weren’t ridiculous enough, then there’s Tyson’s face tattoo. In 2003, Tyson first appeared with a Maori tribal swirl tattoo on his face that stretched from his forehead to his right cheek. The tattoo itself reportedly cost between $200 and $300, but the fact that Tyson would even desire getting it in the first place is just further proof of his penchant for bizarre purchases. Perhaps he should be glad that he’s too famous to have to worry about whether or not he could get a job with that kind of menacing-looking artwork on his face, because he would have likely been infinitely unemployed otherwise.
Tyson was also seen in The Hangover Part II sporting said facial tattoo, which led to a lawsuit from the tattoo’s artist in 2011 for using it without the artist’s permission. In the film, Ed Helms’ character Stu Price wakes up after a night of intense partying with an identical swirling design on his face. The strangest part? Tyson apparently had initially planned on getting little hearts tattooed on his face, but the artist had talked him out of it and into getting the Maori tattoo instead.
Tyson also blew about $500,000 on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC that came equipped with a phone, lamb’s wool rugs, and a removable glass roof – not to mention it was also one of only 73 Bentleys of its kind to have ever been built. Overall, he has dropped about $4.5 million on cars alone, having purchased multiple Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis in his lifetime. In his Ohio mansion, he also owned a 1995 Rolls Royce, a Range Rover, and a Mercedes Benz 500.
Think Tyson’s spending sprees stop here? Think again. Even after being fined $3 million for biting Holyfield’s ear, he still went off and spent his dough like it was coming in endlessly. Tyson reportedly bought about 110 cars in his lifetime, either as gifts for others or for himself to keep – 20 of them coming from one Las Vegas dealership alone. Tyson also owns/has owned homes in Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut, with gardening bills adding up to $100,000. He also nearly bought a home near Beverly Hills for just under $7 million – backing out of the deal following a second loss to Evander Holyfield.
In all, Mike Tyson has squandered a roughly $350-400 million fortune – and allegedly owes the government millions worth of back taxes. It’s pretty shocking how much one can be so famous and make so much money, and yet blow it all on a variety of extravagant and bizarre things. But following all these absurd, excessive and just plain dumb purchases Tyson’s made over the years, it’s little wonder why the boxing legend they call “Iron Mike” has managed to rack up $38 million in debt.