One of the huge perks of becoming a professional athlete is being paid millions to play your favorite sport. It’s the epitome of a dream job. But, for some, the millionaire professional athlete lifestyle comes and goes, leaving them broke.
From bad investments to blowing thousands upon thousands of dollars on unnecessary luxury items, athletes like Marion Jones and Archie Griffin went from living the lifestyles of the rich and famous to losing it all in the blink of an eye.
Once One Of Track’s First Female Millionaires, Marion Jones Lost Everything
At the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, Marion Jones walked away with three gold medals and two bronze for track and field events. She was stripped of her titles, medals, multi-million dollar endorsement deals was and completely broke seven years later.
Apparently, that’s what happens when it comes out that an athlete won her glory by way of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2006, the bank foreclosed on Marion’s $2.5-million mansion. That’s a long fall from winning $70,000 to $80,000 per race.
Antoine Walker Found Himself In Some Debt
Once an NBA championship power forward for the Miami Heat, Antonie Walker went from being on top of his game to being broke. The former professional basketball player played in the NBA from 1996 to 2008, accruing a nice chunk of change in the process.
Unfortunately, after a slew of legal trouble, including writing bad checks to cover a $770,000 gambling debt, Walker saw his fortune slowly but surely dwindle. It probably didn’t help that he supported around 70 friends and family members and spent a lot of cash on luxury cars like Bentleys and Mercedes.
A Judge Called Boris Becker’s Debt “Historic”
Once a prolific professional tennis player, Boris Becker lost his estimated $130 million after retiring from the sport. One for living a lavish lifestyle, no one clued Becker in that once the money stops rolling in, lifestyle changes were going to have to be made.
In 2017, he was forced to declare bankruptcy due to his increasing debt, a sum the judge called “historic.” As a result, the former tennis pro had to auction off personal items, including his tennis memorabilia.
Luther Elliss Liked To Spend His Millions A Little Too Much
Former NFL defensive tackle Luther Elliss made around $11 million while playing for the Detroit Lions. Then, he lost it all. After leaving the NFL, Elliss became a business investor. He should have stuck with football because Elliss wound up making more than one poor investment decision.
According to Elliss, he just liked to spend, and it got him in a lot of trouble financially speaking. He lost his millions with bad investments, credit card charges, and paying for his 12 kids’ private school education.
Chris McAlister Is Back Living With His Parents
Chris McAlister earned a solid $58.4 million fortune after playing for the Baltimore Ravens for 11 seasons. Once he retired, that fortune went down the drain fast. After making nearly 60 million, McAlister found himself unable to pay child support, a $3,000 per month payment that used to be $11,000.
His lavish spendings resulted in the former cornerback moving back in with his parents in 2009, as he was too broke to afford his own house.
If It Was Scuffed Or Dented, David James Bought Another
At the peak of his soccer career, David James made £50,000-a-week, totaling an estimated £20million throughout his career. By 2014, the goalkeeper lost it all. According to one of his former teammates, Jones wasn’t the best when it came to money.
“If he had a new car and he pranged it, he would just go and buy a new car…,” his teammate said during an interview. He did the same thing with scuffed shoes! Jones wound up having to sell 150 soccer jerseys, DJing equipment, and his cars.
Andre Rison Spent A Lavish Amount Of Money Before Going Broke
After signing a $17 million contract with the Cleveland Browns, one would think former NFL wide receiver Andre Rison would be set for life. Well, that’s not exactly how it turned out, even with the tacked-on millions from his multiple endorsement deals.
While the money was rolling in, Rison didn’t think about price tags. His mistake was continuing with the high spending after he retired. The former football star had to file for bankruptcy in 2007 because he didn’t have enough money to pay child support.
Travis Henry Had To Pay $4 Million In Fines
A five-year couple million dollar contract didn’t keep former NFL running back Travis Henry from going broke after retirement from the league. In fact, it didn’t keep him rich while he was in the NFL either. In 2008, Henry was arrested on drug trafficking charges, leading to a $4 million fine.
On top of that, he had $170,000 to pay in child support to nine different women! Needless to say, this once-multi-millionaire went broke quite quickly.
Latrell Sprewell Rejected A $21 Million Contract
During his time in the NBA, Latrell Sprewell was selected as an All-Star and for the All-NBA First Team. But the honors don’t overshadow the 1997 mishap where Sprewell choked his former coach, PJ Carlesimo, from the Golden State Warriors.
Afterward, Sprewell went on to reject a $21 million contract with the Timberwolves, stating that he “has a family to feed.” Yes, because his family is eating filet mignon and lobster every night. His house and yacht were repossessed.
In 2009, Lenny Dykstra Was $31 Million In Debt
Since retiring from playing center fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996, Lenny Dykstra has run into many financial and legal issues. From bankruptcy to grand theft auto, it seems as though an eleven-year run in the MLB didn’t give this former player enough money to stay out of trouble.
In 2009, Dykstra was outed as $31 million in debt, having sold his World Series ring at auction for $56,762 to help pay some of it off. At the time, he was living out of his car and in hotel lobbies.
JaMarcus Russell Just Ran Out Of Money
Even though JaMarcus Russell is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history, he still got a guaranteed $32.5 million for signing a $61 million contract with the Oakland Raiders as their quarterback. Obviously, his performance on the field didn’t equate to the money he was offered, and he was cut.
Afterward, he wasn’t able to secure another NFL position and quickly ran out of money. How one runs out of a few million dollars is another question entirely.
Sheryl Swoopes Had To Sell Her Olympic Medals
Former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes was rolling in the dough, $50 million to be exact, during her hey-day as a professional, playing shooting guard and small forward for the Houston Comets, Seattle Storm, and Tulsa Shock.
After frivolous spending and bad investments, she lost a solid amount of those millions. Swoopes was actually wound up losing many of her prized moments, including her Olympic gold medal because she couldn’t pay $300 a month to store everything in a unit.
Tiki Barber Went Against His Workplace’s Morality Code
Considered one of the most beloved running backs of all-time, former NFL star Tiki Barber should have had it all when he retired from the game after ten years with the New York Giants. However, it didn’t really turn out that way, and Barber wound up having to file for bankruptcy.
The only reason he had to file was that his new job at NBC found out he was having an affair. It went against the studio’s morality code, and they sued for breach of contract. Whoops.
Leon Spinks Went From A Boxing Superstar To Homeless
Former heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks earned a solid $4.1 million during his time as a professional. He was so good, in fact, that he beat the legendary Muhammad Ali once! Well, that win didn’t help him save money.
After his retirement, Spinks found his funds quickly drained with gambling, leaving the former superstar broke, homeless, and nowhere to turn. Thankfully, he turned his life around, now living comfortably in Las Vegas and being a spokesperson for boxers with head trauma.
After winning gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics Games and World Championship in figure skating, one would think Dorothy Hamill would be set with endorsement deals and money for the rest of her life. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.
After years of success, Hamill found her bank account swiftly depleting in 1991. Thanks to a harsh custody battle and medical expenses due to a breast cancer diagnosis, Hamill was forced to file for bankruptcy.
Rollie Fingers Couldn’t Pay Rent
Roland Glen Fingers, aka Rollie Fingers, aka the professional baseball player with the statement handlebar mustache. Finger’s played in the MLB for 17 seasons, becoming a three-time World Series Champion and a four-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year during his professional career.
Unfortunately, everything went downhill for Fingers once he left the league. In order to feed his children and pay rent, Fingers had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. In the end, Fingers was forced to sell his Arabian horses.
Dennis Rodman Owed $850,000 In Child And Spousal Support
One upon a time, Dennis Rodman shared a team and court with legendary Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan. Making $9 million per game, Rodman was pretty much set for life when he decided to go into retirement mode.
Unfortunately, owing $800,000 in child support and $50,000 in spousal support will put a dent in any man’s bank account. Rodman soon found himself broke. It doesn’t help that he runs into trouble with the law almost every year, having to pay fines and court fees.
Evander Holyfield Went From Champion To Zero
Despite earning over $560 million over his boxing career, former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield lost everything. As someone who had their ear bitten off by Mike Tyson in the ring, you’d think Holyfield would want to hold on to every cent he earned.
Instead, he found himself under mountains of debt after retirement. Holyfield lost his fortune with unnecessary spending, multiple failed business ventures, three divorces, and child support payments — of which he owed $6,000 to his ex-wife in 2008.
Diego Maradona Owed A Lot To The Italian Government
Diego Maradona is considered one of the best soccer players of all time, bringing Argentina to more than one World Cup final. But the “El Pibe de Oro,” aka “The Golden Boy,” had some problems off the field.
After making a fortune playing for Argentina, it didn’t take long for Maradona to lose everything. In 2009, it was announced that the former soccer player owed the Italian government €37 million in taxes, €23.5 million of which was interest on the original debt. Whoops.
John Arne Riise Was Accused Of $5 Million In Fraud
Once one of the best defenders in the Premier League, John Arne Riise went from making 50,000 pounds per week to being completely broke. Riise’s financial problems started when he was dragged to court over a $150,000 debt he failed to pay.
Things got worse when Riise’s agent, Einar Baardsen, accused him of $5 million fraud. The case ended in court, but not before Riise lost everything and had to file for bankruptcy.
Darren McCarty Had A Bit Of Gambling Debt
Four-time Stanley Cup winner Darren McCarty is known for a few things. The first being his Cup-winning shot as right-wing for the Red Wings. The second being the extraordinary gambling debt he accrued after making close to $15 million in the NHL.
By the time 2006 rolled around, McCarty owed DMA Holdings $2-million, Huntington National Bank $1.5-million, the Palms Casino $60,000, the Bellagio Casino $100,000, and the MotorCity Casino $25,000. Eventually, he filed for bankruptcy.
Richard Rufus Was Suspected Of £9 Million In Fraud
Richard Rufus was Charlton Athletic’s up and coming soccer star in the early 2000s. However, a 2004 injury left Rufus in early retirement. But even without an income, Rufus continued to spend his fortune. By the time 2013 rolled around, the former centre back was broke and filing for bankruptcy after a failed investment of £6 million.
By 2019, Rufus was due in court for a suspected £9 million in currency exchange fraud. A sad case of a professional athlete who “needed” to continue having a lavish lifestyle even though he couldn’t afford it.
Deuce McAllister Owed Nissan More Than $6.6 Million
Through his contract, escalators, and an additional singing bonus, Deuce McAllister’s net worth after playing for the New Orleans Saints was a solid $70 million. But like the health of his ACL, his fortune didn’t last long.
Just three years after retiring from the NFL, McAllister blew through his millions. All because of a bad car dealership investment, too! In 2009, McAllister reportedly owed Nissan $6.6 million with $300,000 in interest. As a result, his house was seized and auctioned off by the bank.
Bernie Kosar Owed Millions Upon Millions In Debt
By the time Bernie Kosar retired from the NFL, he had secured more than $20 million and a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys. For a few years, he used that fortune in various successful business ventures. His luck eventually ran out.
In 2009, Kosar was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owing $1.5 million in “unsecured debt” to the Clevland Browns, $725,000 to the Cleveland Gladiators owner, $3 million to his ex-wife, and $9 million to the bank for multiple bad real estate ventures.
Johnny Unitas Invested In The Wrong Business
For 18 seasons, Johnny Unitas played quarterback in the NFL, primarily for the Baltimore Colts. Being in the league that long left Unitas with a cushy-looking lifestyle after retirement. But he lost it all in 1984, after trusting the wrong people and making a bad investment.
That year, Unitas purchased a circuit board company in what seemed like a “can’t miss opportunity.” It didn’t pay off, and years later, Unitas found himself in $3.2 million worth of debt and filing for bankruptcy.
Chris Eubank Owed £1.3 Million In Taxes
Chris Eubank is a former professional boxer who was in the ring from 1985 to 1998, holding the title of WBO middleweight and super-middleweight for five years. Once Eubank began to win large sums of prize money, he spent it on lavish clothing, luxury cars, and anything else that represented the glamourous life of a professional athlete.
But that spending came with a cost, pun intended, and Eubank quickly found himself in millions of dollars worth of debt. In 2009, the former boxer filed for bankruptcy, owing £1.3 million in taxes.
Terrell Owens Lost $80 Million
Known for his lavish touchdown celebrations, Terrell Owens was once must-see TV. Once he retired from the NFL, though, the popular wide receiver fell into a whirlwind of debt. Unlike other former professionals, Owens’s debt wasn’t because of a lavish lifestyle.
Leaving the NFL with just under $80 million, Ownes lost a substantial sum to bad investment decisions and child support. Just a few years after leaving the league, Owens was $400,000 in debt and owed thousands in child support.
Archie Griffin Had Six Failed Business
After a stellar college career, many thought Archie Griffin was going to be the Cincinnati Bengals’ next big star. It didn’t work out that way. But that doesn’t mean Griffin didn’t accrue a solid amount of money during his time in the NFL.
Once he retired from the league, Griffin found himself in a bit of debt. According to the New York Times, “after a three-year venture, involving six athletic shoe stores, failed,” Griffin had to file for personal bankruptcy. You’d think he’d figure it out after the first three failed.
Mike Tyson Blew Through $400 Million
Once upon a time, Mike Tyson was the biggest name in the sport of boxing. Through his winnings and endorsement deals, there was one point in time where Tyson’s bank account was around $400 million. The personality’s larger-than-life lifestyle wound up getting Tyson in a bit of financial debt.
By 2003, Tyson had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. At the time, the former boxer owed $600,000 to several law firms, $13.4 million to the IRS, $500,000 to his financial manager, and $800,000 to a former trainer.
Mark Brunell Went From $50 Million To Broke
For 19 seasons, Mark Brunell played quarterback for the NFL, accruing a solid net worth of $50 million. But even before Brunell retired from the professionals in 2011, he found himself in a bit of debt.
According to a Florida-Times Union report, Brunell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing $5.5 million in assets against almost $25 million in liabilities. Apparently, one too many of Brunell’s real estate ventures crashed and burned, resulting in him going from multi-millionaire to broke.
At One Point, Warren Sapp Had A Little Over $800 To His Name
Playing in the NFL from 1995 until 2007 left Warren Sapp with a solid bank account of $82.2 million. But after lavishly spending his money, Sapp was forced to file for bankruptcy. Among other debts, in 2006, Sapp owed the IRS $853,003 in income taxes and $89,775 in 2010.
He was also behind $876,000 in child support and alimony. At one point, Sapp only had a little over $800 to his name! He was forced to sell his lion skin rug, shoe collection, and luxury cars to help pay some things off.
In 2010, Dermontti Dawson Filed For Bankruptcy Protection
For 12 years, Dermontti Dawson had a stellar career playing center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. During that time, he made quite a nice fortune for himself. Shortly after retiring in 2000, Dawson began dabbling in real estate development.
This new business venture didn’t work out as planned. Several years later, in 2010, the former NFL player found himself filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Dawson wound up listing just under $1.5 million in assets against $69 million in liabilities.
OJ Simpson Owes $33.5 Million
While OJ Simpson was once a football legend, it’s safe to say that is not what he’s remembered for. In 1994, Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife and her friend; he was famously acquitted in a court of law.
That verdict wasn’t okay with the victims’ families, and they filed a civil suit against the former NFL player. They won, and Simpson was subjected to paying them $33.5 million. On top of the other crimes he’s committed over the years, Simpson is as good as broke, living off his NFL pension.
Raghib Ismail Made The Wrong Investments
His electric speed on the field earned form NFL player Raghib Ismail the nickname “The Rocket.” Unfortunately, he was also quick at losing the millions he earned. Once with a net worth of around $18 million, The Rocket found himself filing for bankruptcy after a few poor business decisions.
Once such choice being his investment of $300,000 in a Hard Rock Cafe knockoff. It never took off, and that, along with other investments, led Ismail to lose his millions.
Substances Led Dick Lane To Lose A Lot Of His Fortune
Dick “The Night Train” Lane was a prolific player during the 1950s and ’60s, playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, and Detroit Lions during his professional career. After a fairly long and pretty successful career in the NFL, Lane found himself in a bit of trouble.
His partying ways with various substances led the former cornerback to lose his fortune fairly quickly after retiring from the league. Soon after, he went completely broke.
Michael Vick Owed More Than One Debt
In 2007, quarterback Michael Vick’s career in the NFL came to a screeching halt when it was found out he was hosting an illegal dogfighting ring in his house. Needless to say, his $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons was withdrawn, and Vick was left completely broke.
A year later, Vick had no choice but to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He owed $4.5 million to Joel Enterprises Inc., $3.75 million to the Atlanta Falcons, and $2.5 million to the Royal Bank of Canada.
John Daly Blew $1.6 Million In A Single Casino Session
John Daly once came in as the runner-up behind Tiger Woods in a major tournament, winning the golfer $750,000. So, it’s safe to say the professional wasn’t struggling for cash. His little gambling habit had other thoughts on the matter, though.
Sitting down at a $5,000-per play slot machine, Daly famously lost $1.6 million of his fortune. Through the years, it’s estimated that Daly’s lost an estimated $98 million from gambling.
Dan Marino Made One Bad Investment
For 17 years, Dan Marino was a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. After a successful career that left his bank account in the millions, Marino made one bad investment and lost it all.
After retiring from the NFL in 2000, Marino invested $14 million in James Cameron’s company Digital Domain Media Group, Inc. After the 2012 Tupac hologram at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival; the company was thought to be the next big thing. It went under. And Marino wound up losing everything.
Eric Djemba-Djemba Had No Concept Of Money
In the early 2000s, Eric Djemba-Djemba was making a solid $800,000 per month playing for Manchester United. According to his agent, the former soccer player had no concept of money. And by the time 2007 rolled around, he had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.
During an interview, Djemba-Djemba’s former agent said, “Eric is on a different planet. He simply has no notion of money. At one point, he had 30 different bank accounts. He was juggling between credits.”
Allen Iverson Didn’t Have Enough Money For a Cheeseburger
At one point in time, Allen Iverson was one of the world’s highest-paid professional basketball players. During just one season with the Detroit Pistons, Iverson earned an estimated $21 million! A messy divorce brought the shooting guard’s finances to light, though.
During his 2012 divorce proceedings, Iverson admitted to being broke, turning out his pockets to his soon-to-be ex-wife and saying, “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger!” Iverson will be okay, though. He has a $30 million endorsement deal with Reebok that he can’t touch until 2030.