The athlete life is the envy of many. You get to play a game for millions of dollars, you get perks and benefits that the average person doesn't, and you marry some of the most beautiful women in the world. You have a seemingly perfect life...and then you get hit with divorce papers.
That is what has happened to some of the biggest sports names in the world. From the NBA to the NFL to pro golfers to team owners; no one is immune to coming out on the wrong end of a divorce settlement. Some have lost houses and cars while others have lost planes and yachts. But they all have lost money...lots and lots of money!
Some of the names on this list are obvious as their divorce proceedings were quite public. Others are just coming into the light of day after the athlete tried to keep them hush-hush. Athletes may exhibit complete control on their field/court of choice, but when they are served those papers, they become powerless at the feet of the divorce judge. With that being said, here are the top 15 athlete divorcees who ended up with more than the athlete.
15 Bernie Kosar and Babette Kosar
When Bernie and Babette divorced, the former Browns’ ex-wife walked away with $3 million in a divorce settlement. That may not seem like much compared to others on this list but you have to remember that Kosar played mostly in the 1980s when salaries were much lower. That $3 million accounted for about one-third of his total NFL salary. On top of that, Babette later sold the couple’s former Ohio home for another $2.4 million and walked away with almost all of Bernie’s sports memorabilia.
14 Lance Armstrong and Kristin Richard
13 Charlie Bell and Kenya Bell
12 Silvio Berlusconi and Veronica Lario
11 Jeff Gordon and Brooke Sealey
Gordon raced into Sealey’s life in 1993 after they met in victory lane at the Daytona International Speedway. He was an up-and-coming NASCAR driver while she was a Miss Winston Cup model. They married in 1994 but Sealey then sued for divorce in 2002 citing marital misconduct. After all of the divorce proceedings, Sealey was awarded $15.3 million but it could have been so much, much more.
10 Michael Strahan and Jean Muggli
9 Frank McCourt and Jamie Luskin
8 Mike Tyson and Robin Givens
When the heavyweight champion and actress married in 1988, Tyson was estimated to have $50 million. The two did not sign a prenup and when they divorced a year later, Tyson had to fork over $10 million to Givens. In an interview nearly 20 years after the divorce, Givens would say on the $10 million settlement, “I didn’t receive one dime.” Tyson would win his next two bouts after the divorce but then a fight with Buster Douglas Jr. would turn the boxing world on its head. All of this, combined with drug use and extravagant spending would contribute to Tyson filing for bankruptcy in 2003.
7 Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea
6 Robert Johnson and Sheila Johnson
Johnson was not an athlete but he was the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets franchise. In 2002 Johnson became the first majority African American owner of a Big 4 sports franchise and held that title until selling the team to Michael Jordan in 2010. Robert Johnson was formerly married to Sheila Johnson who happened to be the first African American woman to become a billionaire. The two were married from 1969 to 2001 and while there’s no confirmed reason for the split; Sheila came off very well from the divorce. Sheila received a cool $400 million in the divorce settlement and unlike Robert; she is still in the sports team ownership business as she is the managing partner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
5 Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy
Before there was Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour, there was Greg Norman. No, “The Shark” didn’t reach the professional success that Woods did; but Norman was the Tour’s most popular golfer before Tiger came along. He was the first player in PGA Tour history to surpass $10 million in career earnings and his Greg Norman Golf Course Design has annual sales north of $300 million.
4 Roman Abramovich and Irina Vyacheslavovna
3 Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren
By now you know the details that led up to the split of this super couple, but do you know the details of the divorce settlement? Elin was awarded $100 million in the settlement which was likely pocket change for Woods who was the world’s highest paid athlete as recently as 2013. With that $100 million, Elin purchased a $12 million mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, had the house demolished, and then re-built as it made more economical sense than to remodel it. She also used part of the money to enroll in college and she graduated in 2014.
2 Michael Jordan and Juanita Jordan
After 17 years of marriage, the Jordans divorced in 2006 citing irreconcilable differences. Juanita would walk away with $168 million which Forbes said was the most costly divorce settlement on public record at the time. Now, $168 million of Michael Jordan's wealth may not seem like much to the average person, but to put it into perspective; Jordan made just $93 million, total, during his NBA career.
1 Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Ecclestone
Bernie is the billionaire owner of Formula One and the 4th richest person in the United Kingdom. After 24 years of marriage, he and his wife, a former model, divorced “amicably” with a settlement that doesn’t scream “amicably.” Slavica walked away with somewhere in between 1 and $1.5 billion. However, Bernie appears to have covered his bases and as a part of the settlement, Slavica is paying Bernie $95 million per year so he has some extra spending money.
In unrelated news, the then-82-year-old Bernie then remarried in 2012 to a 35-year-old woman. This came on the heels of Bernie “vowing to remain single” after the disaster with Slavica. What man hasn't said that before? Hopefully this marriage ends better for Bernie than his previous one.
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