We don’t expect professional athletes to be the savviest of financial minds. Unlike the rest of us regular Joes, sports stars confront all of the temptations in life we could only dream about. Sure two Jaguars in the garage might look obscenely pompous, but who wouldn’t indulge in these pleasures when money is no object?
However, just because this bounty of cash pours into their bank accounts week in, week out, they’re not off the hook for chucking it away. If you have an endless source of funds at your disposal, there is no excuse not to bed down sensible investments before purchasing material goods. People hire accountants for a good reason.
The threat of going broke is one injury around the corner. This is the cruel twist of fate – making millions a year to kick a ball or make a tackle, only to see it all disappear in a split second.
This is why fans rip their hair out when they hear these stories about arrogant prima donnas flushing all their wealth down a golden toilet for the sake of it. Whether it’s parties, flashy cars, drug and gambling habits or luxury mansions, reckless athletes don’t know how good they’ve got it.
If Gordon Gekko is right about greed being good, then surely keeping all that money out of the hands of bookies and coke dealers is great! A lot of people can get rich, the trick in this game is staying wealthy. And to get that far, you need the capital.
So treat this, if you will, as a roadmap to the path of financial prudency. We’ll wave the accountancy fee for this one, take it as a freebie. Here are the top 20 stupidest ways athletes spend their money.
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Telling the time shouldn’t cost $10,000. Then again, if you believe all the hype surrounding the new apple watches, these devices on your wrist will be doing a hell of a lot more than that in the future. LeBron James happens to be a Samsung spokesman and such is his popularity with the brand, he’s been handing out these new toys to teammates like candy in Halloween. Whether it’s European soccer stars, NBA or NFL players, athletes feel obliged to sport a Tag Heuer, Seiko or Timex to add to their bling collection. It’s a sad case of “Keeping up with the Jones’.”
17 Divorce Settlements
Saying “I don’t” can be a costly exercise. Just ask Tiger Woods, who allegedly paid off ex-wife Elin Nordegren $750 million to keep her from speaking about his affairs in public. Or what about Kobe Bryant, reportedly losing half of his $360 million fortune by not signing to a prenup when he split from partner Vanessa. Average athlete settlements are in the millions of dollars. We’re not saying they’re gold diggers, but they’re not messing with no …. financially responsible sportsmen.
The term “bling” doesn’t fool anybody. It’s necklaces, earrings and rings, if you remove it from a sporting context then it looks like you’re dressing up for a night on the town with your girlfriends. Perhaps the movement started with people like Dennis Rodman and Diego Maradona during the 1980s and 1990s, seeing bling as a way to tell the world they’re special people with an inclination for the eccentric. With the metrosexual movement up and running, jewelry is now equally accessible to the male market.
15 Cars, cars, cars
Attend any NFL training session or watch an episode of Ballers and you know that an athlete’s wheels can be their pride and joy. From Cadillac’s to Ferrari’s, Audi’s, BMW’s, Aston Martin’s and any luxury car in between, one of the first errors players make in the playbook of bad decisions is splashing out on a car. These things will decrease in value – rule 101 of buying a vehicle. Former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco took the absurdity up a notch when he bought a $100,000 semi-truck when he was at the Bengals. Now he’s in the Canadian Football League, let’s hope he paid cash.
Everyone loves a party – invite your friends, put on some tunes and enjoy a few drinks. Harmless fun right? Well yes, but we don’t have to worry about the press getting on our backs if we stay up till all hours of the night. European soccer stars like Jack Wilshere aren’t concerned with injuries, that only gives them more time to splash the cash on VIP guest lists and in-house entertainment. In the US, the NBA is a thriving hub of party boys living the dream – Brian Scalabrine, Kendrick Perkins, Chris Andersen, Anderson Varejao, the list goes on. It’s all fun and games until the bar tab comes in, it’s addictively dangerous business which people can take advantage of.
Athletes get fined all the time. Whether it’s on the field, the court, social media or in the car park, these people are magnates for infringing on rules and regulations. But do these idiots ever learn their lesson and the error of their ways? No! They’re imbeciles. Just look at Chelsea skipper John Terry – earning so much coin in a week he doesn’t care one little bit if the only park he can get is labeled disabled. For the sake of blues fans we’ll avoid making the obvious joke, but it goes to show that sports stars can rake up the fines like few others in society could manage.
13 Fancy Boots
This phenomenon goes beyond MJ’s Air Jordans. Take one look Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, a man so synonymous with the Nike brand his sleek designed boots are encrusted with “CR7” on the sides. Such an arrogant display of personal branding follows the mold of Roger Federer, or should we say “RF Inc.” But has this investment with the brand paid off? Is CR7 better at free kicks? Well no, in fact the fancier the shoe, the worse he gets at scoring from the dead ball. The biggest stars get access to these boots through sponsorships, but the obsession with updating on the latest footwear technology filters through to the rest of the competition, and we think it might be a bit of the con.
Athletes love to wind down with a drink or 10. Alcohol is so connected to the sports industry, everywhere you look there is sponsors left, right and center advertising for the latest beer product to scull down at halftime. It’s no wonder EPL clubs like Sunderland have a “drinking culture” in England’s North East. Great sportsmen like Paul Gascoigne, James Hunt, Jason Kidd, Lawrence Taylor, Charles Barkley, George Best and John Daly couldn’t control their liquor intake. It hurts the bottom line, but it damages so much more than that.
11 Crazy Haircuts
These things are bound to happen. You name it, an athlete has worn it down the years – mohawks, buzz cuts, afros, dyed colors, it’s all been done before and it’s lining the pockets of barbers world wide. Athletes with outrageous hair cuts don’t pick up the big corporate sponsorships, they’re usually the ones found face down in a gutter after a big night on the town. Why is this? Because crazy haircuts fit crazy people and the attention that follows these hairdos only asks for trouble.
10 Bad Business Ventures
There are business ventures that fail with the best of intentions, then there are the types that fail because they are insane! That includes you Michael Vick. You don’t get credit for entrepreneurial spirit for starting up a dog-fighting operation in 2007. This little exercise cost Vick his $130 million contract at Atlanta, shortly followed by Mark Brunell who squandered $25 million in dud real estate investments. A litany of athletes dip into the hospitality market, something that carries minimal risk if the star is big enough.
9 PR Advisors
Fighting off a scandal is costly business. When Walter White called the services of Mike Ehrmantraut, he knew the guy who could clean up and dispose of the body wouldn’t do it for the love of the job. He had to pay big. Forking out the big bucks to fix mistakes puts a lot of pressure on the individual, which is why people are still staggered at the advise Lance Armstrong was given to do that Oprah interview. Behind every scandal lies a group of professionals who make a living off these stuff ups. If only Lance could have hired Marty Kaan from House of Lies, who knows how we would perceive him? Image, after all, is everything.
9. Dodgy Agents
The sports stars that thrive away from the spotlight as much as they do on it surround themselves with people they can trust. Once a wolf in sheep’s clothing comes into the frame, there really is no turning back because these dodgy leaches will take everything they can get. Look at the case of former Rose Bowl MVP Vince Young, who claimed that his agent and financial advisor took him for all he was worth. If it lines their pockets in the short-term, you know a lot of agents are just waiting to pounce on that opportunity regardless on whether or not it’s for the benefit of the athlete.
Individual athletes are most at risk of this financial trap. Just take a look at Money Mayweather, a guy so absurdly rich he can spend a fortune just to take his peeps to a basketball game. Floyd’s entourage is a brand in and of itself, brandishing the “TMT” logo and exerting how popular he is amongst his group of “yes” men. It’s a huge signal of insecurity to see a modestly sized athlete surrounded by giant bodyguards, but if you need a Turtle, Drama and E around to keep you company, then it comes at a cost.
7 Niche Purchases
For Latrell Sprewell, it was a 70-foot yacht. For Dennis Rodman, it was a library of heavy metal records. Sometimes athletes will splurge on an accessory to their prized possession, then again there are people who have an obsession with something they can’t love enough. Rodman’s music collection was so big, it played a major role with his debt issues preventing him from meeting his child support payments. He was in such a desperate situation he contemplated selling a kidney! Thank god for him Napster came around when it did, otherwise he would have never recovered.
6 Private Jets
When Seal sung that he wanted to fly like an eagle, we’re not sure if he meant that literally or figuratively. Either way, Michael Jordan must have loved the title track to his Space Jam movie so much he invested a cool $4 million on a Gulfstream jet all to himself. Usually a luxury indulgence reserved for oil barons, media moguls and FIFA Executives, the move irked teammate Scottie Pippen so much he apparently dubbed the superstar “His Airness.” If a coach needs any indication that a player is getting too big for his boots, it would be looking out the side window of the team flight to see his renegade big shot flying parallel in his own plane.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Diego Maradona, Mike Tyson or Andre Agassi, drug taking can transform from a party activity to an addiction within no time. Not only is the drug itself a lot to spend on, it’s the rehabilitation sessions and counseling to curb the habit that adds insult to injury. Lamar Odom’s overdose provided a sobering moment for the sporting community to once again reflect on the fact these athletes are adrenaline junkies who will look for their fix, regardless of whether they’re still playing or not.
4 Ladies Of The Night
Chris Langton gave us all a great refresher course on athletes who love the ladies (and sometimes other) of the night. We’ve seen Michael Phelps (allegedly) with a large dominatrix, Derrick Rose with a hooker from Memphis, Kevin Stevens with a prostitute in his hotel room. I mean, we live in a world where England’s greatest ever goal scorer Wayne Rooney got it on with a grandmother. These guys would normally be surrounded by groupies, but somehow get their kicks from paying for these services.
Addiction afflicts even the most privileged of us, but elite athletes have the time and money to seek the help necessary to prevent them from going down the rabbit hole. Otherwise, as was the case with John Daly, you end up throwing away money that can secure your families future for a lifetime. The PGA legend won $750,000 in prize money at a tournament in 2005, only to go to Vegas and blow $1.5 million in 5 hours. The worst association you can make is with a bookie because their solution to your problem is always to take another bet.
2 Designer Clothing
What’s wrong with jeans and a t-shirt? These prima donnas squander fortunes to look like A-list celebrities, so much so we now live in a world where Newcastle United players are wearing designer made tuxedos to home matches. You’re not auditioning for a Baz Luhrmann film buddy! Whether it’s the William sisters, Floyd Mayweather or David Beckham, athletes are brainwashed to going above and beyond for a garment. Spending tens of thousands on designer-mad outfits eats into the savings and these guys shouldn’t be surprised when they’re pockets become lighter in retirement.
Real estate is always a safe investment and provides the basis for a sound financial future. But you can go above and beyond, particularly when outlandish mansions get purchased. The up-keep on villas like Barry Bonds’ guarded mansion in North Beverly would require enormous 24/7 maintenance, looking like something Pablo Escobar would hide out in. Tennis courts, pools, party rooms, surround-sound cinemas, dance floors, extravagant gardens and story after story of living space – these temples of excess chew away at players capital, only to reap a reward when it’s sold or leased out. You can be assured these athletes have never heard the phrase “less is more.”
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