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Horror Stories of Overspending by Pro Athletes

August 9, 2016

Many professional athletes make millions during their relatively short careers — and some still end up broke within a few years of exiting the sport, SportsChew.com writes.

Their downfall could have been predicted by how they spent their money, according to the sports news website.

Bad decisions lead to bankruptcy within the first five years of retirement for 78% of National Football League players and 60% of National Basketball Association players, according to Wyattresearch.com data cited by SportsChew.com.

Their spending habits probably hinted at the trouble to come, such as for Latrell Sprewell, the former New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves player who bought a $1.5 million yacht but was only able to cover $200,000 before defaulting on the payments, crash-­landing the boat and getting it repossessed — along with his home, the sports news website writes.

Private transport has landed other athletes in trouble before. Scottie Pippen bought a $4.3 million Gulfstream jet three years after leaving the Chicago Bulls, only to find out that the plane needed $1 million in repairs to take off, SportsChew.com writes.

Fellow basketball player Allen Iverson, meanwhile, couldn’t resist buying jewelry, running up an $860,000 debt to one jeweler and overdrawing by $23,000 in one day at a jewelry shop, a hotel and a restaurant, SportsChew.com writes.

NBA player Gilbert Arenas’ financial albatross was his swimming pool, which included a $500,000 waterfall structure made of imported rock and an underground entertainment complex complete with three fish tanks holding exotic fish and sharks, according to the website. For the Atlanta HawksJarrett Jack, it’s sneakers — all 1,500 pairs of them, estimated to be worth $375,000.

Baseball great Reggie Jackson, meanwhile, couldn’t resist cars, owning more than 130 at one point, and losing a quarter of them in a fire at a cost of $4 million, SportsChew.com writes.

Custom­ designing things is a common theme for several pro athletes. Al Jefferson, the center for the Charlotte Hornets, once blew $23,000 on a custom bed, measuring 10-by-12 feet, according to the sports news website. And boxer Floyd Mayweather once spent $50,000 on an iPod case, SportsChew.com writes.

For some athletes, it’s not spending but investing that gets them into trouble. Ex-New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister lost $1.5 million on a failed Nissan dealership, SportsChew.com writes. Torii Hunter, who retired from baseball last year, once invested $70,000 for someone’s idea to install inflatable rafts underneath furniture in case of floods.

And Curt Schilling, the retired Boston Red Sox pitcher, lost a whopping $50 million on a video-game company that was supposed to compete with EA Sports and Activision, SpotsChew.com writes.

For some players, it’s their charity that costs them. Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster spent $35,000 on five Segways for his teammates not realizing that the 260­-pound limit on the machine is far below the average weight of an NFL offensive lineman, according to the sports news website.

Other sports have their legends as well, of course. Mike Tyson earned $300 million throughout his boxing career but today can’t cover his debt to the Internal Revenue Service, Sportschew.com writes. One of Tyson’s many indulgences was a pair of Bengal tigers that cost $140,000 upfront and another $20,000 a month to maintain.

Professional golfer John Daly once lost $1.65 million on slot machines in Las Vegas, according to SportsChew.com. Tiger Woods spent $60 million on a mansion and a further $20 million on its renovation — right after a scandal in his personal life that cost him lucrative endorsement deals with Gatorade and AT&T, the sports news website writes.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Sports Chew article cited in this story, click here.