The fact that most professional athletes from the three major sports become completely broke and deep in debt after retirement continues to confound the public and sports pundits alike.
It’s not like today’s players aren’t aware of the many horror stories of players of yesteryear who, because of their lack of job skills, injuries and bad financial dealings, become nearly destitute. Yet, nearly 80 percent of players in the National Football League are hovering near or are in bankruptcy just two years after retiring from the game. And in the NBA, 60 percent of its players are broke within five years of retirement.
Sports Illustrated contributes the financial decline to several key factors: ignorance of business, which leads to faulty investments; conspicuous consumption during their playing days that continues after their playing days are over; divorces, which forces them to pay out exorbitant child support and alimony payments while no longer making the same money; and poor financial planning — or better yet, no financial planning — which prevents them from instituting some reasonable budgetary constraints on themselves and their inner circle, particularly their spouses.
Here are some of the most notable cases of financial blunders in recent years:
Latrell “I can’t Feed My Family” Sprewell: NBA fans will never, ever forget how a washed-up, past his prime Latrell Sprewell turned his nose up at a $21 million contract because he said it was hardly enough money to “feed [his] family.” It would’ve come in handy today, because of all of the $96 million Sprewell made during his career, he has none of it left. He also lost his $1.5 million dollar Italian yacht, named “Milwaukee’s Best,” in 2007. His $5.4 million house went into foreclosure in May 2008.
Scottie Pippen: Former Chicago Bulls star and Michael Jordan’s famous on-court partner, Scottie Pippen lost $120 million in career earnings due to poor financial planning and bad business ideas. Arguably the greatest and most-well known sidekick in NBA history blew $27 million on bad investments and spent $4.3 million on a Gulfstream II corporate jet. He does have six NBA title rings though.
Evander Holyfield: This heavyweight could be sued for false advertising. That’s because the four-time boxing champ, known as “The Real Deal,” apparently never knew how to actually make a deal. He reportedly made over $250 million in cash during his boxing career, yet he’s flat broke–and missing a chunk of his ear. Usually, buying a home is one of the smartest investments. But Holyfield bought a $20 million house with over 54,000 square feet and 109 rooms. The house has 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, a movie theater, a bowling alley and an Olympic-size swimming pool. And let’s not even mention all those child support payments.
Mike Tyson: Despite his career catastrophes, “Iron Mike” remains an immensely popular personality. At his apex, Tyson had $400 million. He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. It’s one of only 73 Bentley Continental SCs ever built. He spent over $4.5 million on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune is down for the count. –terry shropshire