According to Sports Illustrated, 80% of NFL players go broke within three years of retiring. With a league average salary of around $2 million a year, it is difficult to believe players can go broke so easily. But it isn't just football players that see their finances go down the toilet during and after their careers. Sudden wealth often creates sudden spending. Athletes who suddenly earn millions of dollars don't understand that one day those paycheques will end. Moreover, many athletes don't realize they should be putting some of their cash away for the future.
While there are professional athletes who have lost everything due to their desire to buy more cars, jewelry and houses, there are those who saved their money. In fact, one of the growing trends in sports involves athletes investing their riches in one way or another. Whether it is putting their salary into a trust fund or investing into property, there are athletes who are looking out for their financial futures.
It takes athletes to fail financially for others to take note, and realize they don't want to turn out the same. Thanks to the extravagant lifestyles that led some sports stars down a bad path, other athletes have been saved from making the same mistakes.
16 Chose To Live Simple: Marshawn Lynch
In April 2017, Marshawn Lynch signed a two-year, $9m contract with the Oakland Raiders. The salary the Raiders will pay him is a drop in the bucket compared to what Lynch has saved during his playing career. According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Lynch hasn't touched a dime of the money he has received for playing in the NFL. In 2016, it was estimated Lynch makes $5m a year on endorsements alone, and he has been living off of the money he receives from Nike, Pepsi and other companies. It was predicted Lynch has around $50m in money saved from his playing contracts. It is a good thing he has so much saved up as Lynch was rumored to be ready for retirement after his time with Oakland comes to an end.
15 Had No Choice: Patrick Cummins
In 2015, the UFC generated $600 million. However, that money didn't trickle down to many of the UFC's fighters. Patrick Cummins is one of those fighters who didn't see much of the money the mixed martial arts company made. His lack of finances was so bad, Cummins spent time homeless while training to fight in a UFC event in 2016. The UFC fighter's announcement of being homeless came as shock to many. Cummins made the announcement via Twitter in response to a tweet from fellow fighter Carla Esparza. The female fighter was selling her Harley Davidson after being unable to make the money to pay for it. Cummins was a great, inspirational story to many MMA followers due to being a former coffee barista turned UFC fighter. There's a good chance Cummins made more money working in coffee shops than fighting in the octagon.
14 Chose To Live Simple: Mick Foley
Mick Foley's thriftiness on the road during his WCW and WWE years was legendary. Sharing cars, doubling up in hotel rooms and eating as cheaply as possible were Foley's rules while traveling. Foley still works extremely hard now that he has retired from in-ring action. The former WWE star has a full calendar of live shows and autograph signing sessions throughout the year. During an episode of Jim Ross' Ross Report podcast, Foley explained the reason he has to stay so busy is due to the lack of medical insurance he has. The wrestler's body took a beating during his career, and unfortunately, he is paying the physical toll now. Foley's live simple lifestyle has enabled him to save money, however. He still lives thrifty on the road as he travels to do his one man show.
13 Had No Choice: Travis Henry
In 2009, former Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry declared he was broke. The former NFL star blames child support as the reason he had nothing left from his playing career. Henry only played six years in the NFL, and unfortunately wasn't able to keep up his payments to the nine women he conceived nine children with. In an attempt to make some cash, Henry financed a trafficking syndicate. It wasn't a wise move by the former Tennessee Volunteer. He received a three-year sentence in federal prison for his involvement. Now out of the pen, Henry has participated in Tennessee Volunteer autograph signing events. Henry is now trying to get his life back on track despite having little money to his name.
12 Chose To Live Simple: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard isn't like many of the other NBA stars he plays against. Leonard likes to stay away from the limelight The Association offers its players. Leonard may be on more than $18m for the 2017-18 season, but that doesn't mean he throws his money away. The San Antonio Spurs player still uses coupons when dining out. Leonard sponsors Wingstop, and doesn't shy away from eating at the chicken wing restaurant chain during the NBA season. As part of his contract with Wingstop, Leonard gets coupons to eat for free at locations across the United States. Even after he signed a $94m contract extension with the Spurs, Leonard dined on free wings. According to reports, he has been known to lose his free coupons during road trips, which causes the millionaire to panic. Luckily, Wingstop sends him more when he can't find them.
11 Had No Choice: Vin Baker
Vin Baker won an Olympic gold medal and earned around $100m during his NBA career. But in 2017, Baker was not living off of the riches he earned during a 13-year spell in The Association. Baker was working at as a basketball director at a boys' camp in Massachusetts. Baker didn't have the guidance many NBA players do today as he freely spent his earnings. The center's alcohol addiction didn't help, and by the time his career ended in 2006, Baker didn't have a dime to his name. Baker made three trips to rehab to overcome his alcohol addiction, and the property he once owned was repossessed by creditors. Baker went from making millions to working at Starbucks and pouring coffee for commuters. Baker has re-built his life, but the vast wealth he once had is long gone.
10 Chose To Live Simple: Michael Carter-Williams
Just a decade ago, it wasn't uncommon for professional athletes to announce their money troubles while still being active players. Fortunately for many, times have changed thanks to athletes finishing their educations or due to sports leagues giving players better guidance. Michael Carter-Williams is one such player to get great advice. The 11th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Carter-Williams was paid $4.5m over the first two years of his career. The point guard decided to put his guaranteed salary into a trust fund that he couldn't touch for the first three years of his professional career. Carter-Williams used the money he received from endorsement deals with Nike and Panini trading cards to live on while saving the rest of his cash. Since debuting in the league with the Philadelphia 76ers, Carter-Williams is now on his fourth team in five seasons.
9 Had No Choice: Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor has played from some of the biggest soccer teams in the world. He has suited up for Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Real Madrid, but the striker has been taken to the cleaners thanks to his family. Adebayor gave millions of dollars to family members and helped them live a wealthy lifestyle they never would have been able to afford. It wasn't just his family, however. Every friend and acquaintance came out of the woodwork to ask for money when Adebayor became rich and successful. Adebayor has stated he simply wanted to help his family out of poverty. However, they became greedy and began to use him for his financial well-being. The player has since gone through mental health issues due to the pressure he experienced from those that are related to him.
8 Chose To Live Simple: CM Punk
CM Punk's net worth has been estimated at around $8 million. The former WWE superstar worked hard to achieve that level of financial security, and with the way the former grappler lives, there's no doubt he will enjoy his money until the day he dies. Unlike other professional athletes, Punk has always lived a meagre lifestyle. He isn't flashy when it comes to clothes, cars or jewelry, so there isn't much of chance he will be going through his savings. Of course, that could change due to the current legal battle Punk is involved in. Following his rant about WWE medical doctor Chris Amann, Punk fell into hot water when the good doctor filed a defamation lawsuit. For now, Punk falls into the "lives simple" category. But this time next year, he could be on the opposite side of the spectrum.
7 Had No Choice: Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker is the perfect example of why NBA players need to save their money. Walker went from $108m to $0 in the span of 15 years. A three-time NBA All-Star and NBA champion with the Miami Heat, Walker filed for bankruptcy just two years after retiring from the NBA. Fortunately, Walker has tried to learn from his mistakes, and has worked with athletes to advise them on what not to do. Walker has blamed his penchant for buying houses, jewelry and cars for his financial meltdown. Walker also gave handouts to family and old neighborhood friends from Chicago. Growing up poor in The Windy City where money was scarce, Walker didn't know what to do with it when he became a professional basketball player. Of course, when paychecks are coming in every week, it is difficult for many to understand they will one day stop.
6 Chose To Live Simple: Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler was an English Premier League soccer star just before the league began paying incredible amounts of money to its players. Fowler debuted with Liverpool in 1993 after signing a professional contract on his 17th birthday. Fowler was making more money than he knew what to do with. The Liverpool man decided to invest it in real estate, and has since become one of the gurus of the United Kingdom's buy-to-let market. In fact, Fowler has even started a school to teach individuals who want to become investors. Unlike many Premier League players, Fowler worked hard and saved his cash by shunning many of the extravagances others enjoy. Now 42, Fowler's career has been over for some time. However, he is a great role model for players when it comes to re-investing wealth.
5 Had No Choice: Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield fought his way from the depths of poverty to the height of riches. As one of the world's top boxers, Holyfield made millions. Despite the money he made, Holyfield spend it with reckless abandon. During Holyfield's illustrious boxing career, his biggest bouts were grossing nearly $100m. In his match against Mike Tyson, the bout in which his ear was bitten off, Holyfield earned a cool $35m. However, according to Holyfield, it was difficult to say 'no' when the money was flowing in. The former boxing champion had no knowledge of how to invest or save money, and it led to him haemorrhaging his wealth. Due to his financial problems, Holyfield stepped into the ring as recently as May 2011. He was 51-years old. Holyfield currently works as an adviser to boxers. It is claimed he is bankrupt and broke.
4 Chose To Live Simple: Klay Thompson
In 2013, it emerged that Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson received an allowance from his parents. Thompson reportedly makes over $17m a year currently. But in 2013 after he was fined by the NBA for a fight, his father and former NBA star Mychal Thompson, stated he would withhold Klay's allowance. Thompson's father claims he would take his son's paychecks and deposit them into the bank. Mychal would then give Klay $300 a week – of his own money – to spend. Klay was only on $2.2m a season during the time, so his father's saving methods were only to help him for the future. Klay has now proven himself with Golden State, and has probably doubled his weekly allowance from his old man. Despite the unorthodox way Mychal Thompson allowed his son to have his salary, it isn't a bad idea for more professional athletes to have a similar method.
3 Had No Choice: Lenny Dykstra
Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies player Lenny Dykstra had a mighty fall from financial grace. In 2011, Dykstra found himself in jail after being arrested for bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice. Just three years previously, the former MLB star had listed his net worth to be $58 million. Dykstra owned several carwash and oil change centers in Los Angeles, and was pulling in a cool $1m a year after baseball retirement. But the man known as Nails during his MLB career got greedy and made mistake after mistake. Dykstra had a long list of problems before being convicted to 12 years in prison in 2012. His laundry list of bad decisions included: writing a hooker a hot check, sexually assaulting his housekeeper and grand theft auto. It was a Molotov cocktail of bad personal and business decisions. Since being released from prison, Dykstra has released a besting selling book and has a partnership with Rebound Finance.
2 Chose To Live Simple: Jeff Teague
The old saying goes, "there's no place like home", and Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague was a firm believer of the cliché. In July 2016, Teague was traded to his hometown NBA team, the Indiana Pacers. Although a millionaire, Teague moved back in with his parents, who still lived in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the homecoming was just for one season as Teague signed a $57m contract with the Timberwolves in the summer of 2017. While living together, Teague's dad still mowed the lawn and his mom prepped meals when the guard wasn't on the road with the Pacers. There's no word on whether Teague's dad will mow the lawn of his new residence in Minneapolis.
1 Had No Choice: Ric Flair
Ric Flair has lived the wrestling lifestyle since debuting in 1972. By Flair's own admission, he was blowing through money even before the checks reached his hand. Four divorces, legal troubles and his lavish lifestyle haven't helped with his financial situation, and at 68, he is considered broke. It has been alleged Flair has been low on cash since the mid-1980s, and was using 'money marks' to buy his drinks when going out on the town. Some allege Flair's relationship with unlikely wrestling podcast mega star, Conrad Thompson, being due to the latter picking up The Nature Boy's tab on nights out. As Booking the Territory podcast host Doc Turner says, Naitchomonics isn't very accurate. Flair's inability to know just how much money he possesses has hurt him over the last three decades. Regardless, Flair has had no choice but to live the simple life for some time. But for you and me, that's still pretty good. Wooooo!