They are the idols of people everywhere. They serve as role models for the young who dream of becoming as successful as they are. They are physical specimens that have been blessed with ample skills and talent. They get paid by the millions to play the games that they love. People will hang on to every word they say, as if they were the most articulate and intelligent people on the planet. Women fawn over them and would line up just to have a date with them. They also become sought-after figures in the advertising world as companies fight each other just to make them their brand ambassadors. And with these endorsements come even more money.
So with all this fame and fortune, why risk it by cheating? Whether through the use of performance-enhancing drugs or by two-timing the wife, some athletes start to feel that they are above everybody else and can do whatever they please. And when they are finally caught, all they need to do is wave a wad of money to get people off their case. Here is a list of the top 10 athletes who paid lots of money after being caught cheating.
10. Shaquille O’Neal – $20,000 Per Month, Lifetime
Shaquille O’Neal is probably the most athletic center to have ever played the game of basketball. He is tall and bulky, but he moves with a fair bit of agility and grace. He can attack the basket ferociously like a center should, then run and celebrate with a breakdance like he was a teenager. He won four NBA rings and dominated the game while under the bright lights of the media. In 2002, around the time he got his third and last ring with the Los Angeles Lakers, he married Shaunie Nelson. Shaq cheated on his wife several times over the next seven years, until they finally divorced in 2009. A prenuptial agreement limited his liability to $20,000 monthly for alimony and child support combined, but he has to pay it for the rest of his life.
9. Marion Jones – $1 Million
Everyone loved Marion Jones when she won five medals – including three golds – in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. However, allegations of the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PED) followed her soon after. She initially vehemently denied using, but in 2007, her lying and cheating finally caught up with her. She was jailed for six months and lost a million dollars in endorsements. Her house was also foreclosed. She tried to make a comeback through the WNBA, but only managed to play two seasons.
8. Ryan Braun – $6.2 Million
Ryan Braun was the complete baseball player. He could hit for power and for average, he could run, he could field and he had an amazing arm. He was considered as one of the 50 best players of 2012. He even won an MVP award in 2011. Sadly, he also took PEDs. He was probably talented enough to be a star even without the drugs, but a desire to further improve himself is what did him in. He was suspended for 100 games until next season and stands to lose $6.2 million.
7. Hulk Hogan – $7.44 Million
Terry Bollea is not a traditional athlete, but as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, he does have some moves that would be the envy of sports stars everywhere. He was married for 26 years to his wife, and amazingly still cheated on her. Even more amazing was that he had an affair with his wife’s friend. Hogan had to give up his $3 million property to his wife, as well as several luxury cars, 40 percent of his businesses, and 70 percent of their liquid assets.
6. Manny Ramirez – $8 Million
Manny Ramirez will forever be a hero to Boston fans for being part of the 2004 World Series team that finally broke the curse of Babe Ruth. His laidback attitude was in complete contrast to his mean bat. He was also a hit with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2009, he was suspended for 50 games for drug use. He lost $8 million in salary in the process.
5. Jeff Gordon – $9 Million
Jeff Gordon is a champion race car driver who plies his trade in NASCAR. His success led to his meeting with a former Ms. Winston Cup winner, Brooke Sealey. Hot and alluring, Sealey was thought to be the perfect match for the multi-millionaire racer. Gordon, however, was not satisfied with his beautiful wife and cheated on her with a Belgian model named Ingrid Vandebosch. Sealey was paid $9 million, a couple of cars, and limited rights to use Gordon’s private plane and yacht.
4. Alex Rodriguez – $32.7 Million
Alex Rodriguez has been MVP three times, an All-Star 14 times, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner and a World Series champion. Yet many fans (especially in New York) maintain that he can never match the appeal and clutch of Derek Jeter. Unfortunately Rodriguez just keeps making it worse for himself. He has been battling PED-use charges for several years now. If he gets suspended 100 games like Ryan Braun, he stands to lose $32.7 million. A-Rod isn’t a stranger to losing money. His philandering led to a divorce that saw his ex-wife walking away with their $12 million home in Florida, as well as unspecified amounts for alimony and support.
3. Lance Armstrong – $75 Million
Lance Armstrong used to be the media’s darling. He suffered advanced testicular cancer in the 90s, which had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen. He fought back and was miraculously cancer-free five months later. He then competed and won the Tour de France seven straight times, an amazing feat even without his cancer history. Allegations of cheating and doping constantly followed his triumphs, however. He would deny the charges and even sue those that charged him with cheating, but in 2013 he finally admitted to the use of PEDs. Sponsors immediately dropped him and he lost a total of $75 million as a result.
2. Tiger Woods – $122 Million
Tiger Woods was on his way to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for most Grand Slam victories. He already had 14 under his belt, and he was still in his early 30s. He had a hot wife in Swedish-born Elin Nordegren, and the entire world was cheering for him to claim the record as his own. Unfortunately, his fondness for other women and addiction to sex led to a messy divorce. His wife got $100 million, and he lost another $22 million in dropped endorsements.
1. Michael Jordan – $150 Million
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. He won six NBA rings, several MVP honors, Defensive Player of the Year awards, Slam Dunk Championships, and Olympic gold medals. He had lucrative endorsement deals with various sponsors. In 1989, just as his fame was shooting up, he married Juanita Vanoy, but it didn’t take long for Jordan to cheat. By 1991, he reportedly had to pay $250,000 to a mistress so that she would keep quiet about his affair. In 2006, his divorce paper was finalized, and he was ordered to pay his ex-wife $150 million.
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