History has shown that there is a ton of truth behind the cliche which teaches us that a pro athlete’s career can be over in an instant. A wide receiver who tears his ACL attempting to make what some would deem to be a routine play is never the same. Young pitchers who suffer elbow and shoulder problems lose speed on their fastballs and movement on breaking pitches. In other instances, age catches up with an athlete sooner than some expected, leading to that individual being “washed up” in the eyes of fans, journalists and observers. While some athletes believed to be washed up make spectacular returns — Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer come to mind — so many fail to again taste glory.
Individuals who comment on sports talk radio programs, social media platforms and other avenues about athletes who are supposedly washed up often find humor in the states of those former stars. What such people seemingly forget is that the athletes who are no longer what they once were still have plenty of money, in some cases millions upon millions of dollars, in the bank, and are doing just fine even though they are no longer winning games, matches or other competitions. Even a washed up athlete who is out of pro sports before the age of 30 can be rich for the rest of his life so long as he makes wise decisions and/or comes from a situation where he never needed sports to be rich in the first place.
15 Anna Kournikova
Now 36 years old, Anna Kournikova is well past her prime as a tennis player and, in other aspects, as a celebrity. Nevertheless, she did well to cement her legacy as a Superstar in the 1990s and early 2000s despite the fact that she was never the world’s greatest player.
Kournikova was an athlete ahead of her time in several aspects, as she became an Internet sensation due to her striking beauty years before websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became popular among users of varying ages. Companies naturally flocked to her for international advertising campaigns, among other ventures, and she became her own brand and her own business even after her playing career ended. Despite her lack of major titles, Kournikova managed to laugh all the way to the bank with her insane $50 million net worth.
14 David Carr
David Carr, the older brother of current Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, is seen as an NFL bust, but those who view the top pick of the 2002 NFL Draft in such a way should remember that the 38-year-old played behind some awful offensive lines while with the Houston Texans.
It is also worth noting that Carr earned roughly $40 million off league contracts during his career, according to Spotrac, and he didn’t squander his money on silly purchases as far as we know. Carr has also obtained work as an analyst for NFL Media, NFL.com and the NFL Network. He even picked up a championship ring serving as a backup to New York Giants starter Eli Manning. The older Carr is doing just fine these days.
13 Nikola Pekovic
There was once a time when a team such as the Minnesota Timberwolves throwing millions of dollars at big man Nikola Pekovic made sense, on paper. Pekovic enjoyed success during the early stages of his NBA career after making the move from Europe, so much so that not many blinked when the club secured his services on a deal reportedly worth $60 million over five years back in 2013.
Injuries plagued him throughout the last couple of seasons, however, and the Timberwolves waived him earlier this year. Per Spotrac, Pekovic made over $60 million in cash from NBA deals, and that doesn’t include money that he earned before joining the league roughly a decade ago. Even if he is washed up and never again plays in the Association, Pekovic’s career was nevertheless financially rewarding.
12 Robert Griffin III
Life comes at you fast, so says the joke often repeated online, and that was the case as it pertains to former quarterback Robert Griffin III. An Offensive Rookie of the Year for the 2012 campaign, Griffin’s best days as a player quickly faded due to multiple injury woes.
It’s often been suggested his attitude and relationships inside of the Washington Redskins’ locker room didn’t help his cause up through the expiration of his rookie contract. A brief stint with the Cleveland Browns nearly ended after a single game because of a different injury, and he and that franchise parted ways after only one year. By all indications, Griffin is washed up and out of the league for good, but Spotrac claims he made over $28 from his NFL deals.
11 Trent Richardson
Remember when it looked as if the Cleveland Browns had a stud running back in former Alabama star Trent Richardson? Richardson impressed during his rookie campaign, but the Browns shipped him off to the Indianapolis Colts only two games into his second season.
Apparently, that was one decision the Browns actually got right during the current decade, as Richardson was rarely even a shell of his former self while with the Colts and, later, the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens. While Richardson has stated individuals close to him squandered over $1.5 million of the money he earned in the NFL, he has also claimed that he isn’t broke. He spent a portion of 2017 earning paychecks in the Canadian Football League, but the 27-year-old will struggle to find work in the NFL ever again.
10 Tim Tebow
Odds are that anybody familiar with football knows all about the rise and fall of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow managed to earn millions of dollars during his brief stint in the league, in part because he was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
While winning a playoff game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn’t enough to keep him in the NFL for a lengthy amount of time, he managed to land a contract worth six-figures with the New York Mets as a member of that team’s minor league system. Those who would remark Tebow is a washed up football player should also remember he works as an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network. His marketability and overall athletic gifts essentially guarantee he’ll be richer than you for the foreseeable future.
9 Scott Steiner
The 55 year old might look washed up inside of the squared circle but when it comes to his net worth, the former WCW Champion is still a millionaire with a rumored net worth of over a million dollars. Along with his work in the wrestling industry, Steiner has also made money attending various wrestling conventions and taking part in multiple type shoot interviews (which he rarely holds back).
Nowadays, most of his revenue is actually coming outside of the squared circle and in the restaurant business as a proud owner of a Shoney’s resto establishment. Scott was all smiles at the launch of his new business venture, even bringing down some of his former WCW buddies in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall among others.
8 Anthony Bennett
It’s almost hard to believe the Cleveland Cavaliers spent a first-overall draft selection on forward Anthony Bennett in 2013. Bennett not only failed to prove to be worth that value. Some see him as the biggest draft bust in the history of the league.
He’s only 24 years old, so the possibility exists he could find his form while in the NBA G League en route to making a remarkable return ahead of his physical prime. Even if Bennett is washed up, Spotrac estimates he earned over $16 million before attempting to play overseas and, later in the NBA developmental league. We’re hoping that he saved at least some of his millions, because there’s no reason he shouldn’t be richer than all of us even if he never starts for another NBA club.
7 CM Punk
Many fans and others within the combat sports community criticized the Ultimate Fighting Championship for giving former World Wrestling Entertainment champion CM Punk an opportunity to fight on a Pay-Per-View card even though he clearly wasn’t up for that type of challenge in September 2016. Punk was thoroughly dominated in his single UFC bout, to date, but his wife, former WWE performer A.J. Lee, suggested in the spring of 2017 that he earned $1 million, in total, in his official mixed martial arts debut.
That one payday alone doesn’t account for the cash Punk earned throughout his stint in the WWE and in other endeavors, such as the television program MTV’s The Challenge: Champs Vs Pros. Punk has a reputation for being smart with his money, so expect that he’ll be richer than you even if he is technically “washed up” as a fighter.
6 Colin Kaepernick
Think whatever you will about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his form of protest that has taken the NFL by storm. Kaepernick was, admittedly, a flawed player during his final season with the club, and those who honestly believe his inability to land with a team in 2017 has nothing to do with him being allegedly “blackballed” would say that he is a washed up version of his former self.
The 30-year-old who is currently more an activist than a signal-caller has shown a willingness to walk the walk, as the saying goes, and donate noteworthy amounts of money to causes. He can afford to do so and then some, as Spotrac estimates he earned over $43 million during his tenure with the Niners.
5 Sean Avery
Sean Avery was one of the most popular and most villainous National Hockey League players of his time, depending on the teams he played for and fans’ affiliations with those clubs. The 37-year-old who left the league in the spring of 2012 unquestionably earned a small fortune as a pro hockey player, but he later explained that isn’t the only reason he is richer than you.
In January 2015, the former player who has numerous interests away from the sport writing about The New Avery Rule and about how he was smart with his money over the years. One also has to give Avery credit for remaining relevant, in multiple ways, even after he was washed up. He has proven he can win on and off the ice throughout the 2000s.
4 Josh Hamilton
In a way, you almost feel bad for referring to one-time MVP Josh Hamilton as washed up. After all, his battles with addiction and personal demons are public knowledge, and he deserves credit for working hard to rehabilitate and become a superstar, for a period of time, in the Big Leagues.
However, the five-year deal worth $125 million that he signed with the Los Angeles Angels back in 2012 now looks like one of the worst MLB contracts of the decade. The Angels traded him to the Texas Rangers in 2015, and the Rangers released him in the spring of 2017. Spotrac claims Hamilton made an estimated $146 million from league contracts. All should hope he finds peace away from baseball if he fails to land with another club in 2018.
3 Greg Oden
There will likely never be a time when former Ohio State superstar Greg Oden isn’t seen as one of the biggest busts in modern NBA history. Oden had the talent to, at least, make it on a starting roster, but his body simply wasn’t strong enough to deal with life in the pros. Injuries essentially ended a once-promising career before it ever began, and Oden couldn’t catch on for a lengthy amount of time playing overseas.
In July 2017, ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham explained that Oden claims he still has “a lot” of the $24 million that he earned from NBA contracts, and also that the former player is working to obtain his college degree. He seems to have a level head on his shoulders despite all that went wrong for him.
2 Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey went from being arguably the biggest Superstar in all of the UFC to a washed up fighter seemingly overnight. Rousey suffered knockout defeats in her final two contests, and all indications are that her loss to Amanda Nunes in December 2016 will be the last time she competes in the cage. It was reported, after the fact, that she made $3 million from that fight alone.
Add in the other purses she managed to take home as a champion, not to mention her outside business endeavors and endorsements, and it’s safe to assume she’s financially set for life. Don’t forget it’s also heavily rumored she could put pen to paper on a deal with the WWE ahead of next year’s WrestleMania card. Rousey may be washed up as a fighter, but she’s shown she’s also a smart businesswoman.
1 Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel, formerly known as Johnny Football, offered glimpses during his two seasons with the Cleveland Browns that he could potentially be the franchise savior the club has needed since returning to the NFL in 1999. Manziel was his own worst enemy, however, and he hasn’t been able to find work in the league over the past two years.
There’s little chance, if any, Manziel will ever again play pro football, but he still earned approximately $7 million as a first-round draft selection. Washed up or not, Manziel happens to come from family money thanks to an oil fortune obtained well before he ever threw a single touchdown in high school or college. Theoretically, the cash will eventually disappear, but Manziel remains richer than you as of late 2017.