Top 20 Superstar Athletes Who Lost it All

Pro Athlete’s make insane amounts of money. Enough to get anyone jealous. We see them driving in luxury cars, going out and flaunting their earnings as it serves as a reminder as to just how much some of these guys get paid to play games for a living. The most shocking contracts of all are the big name guys who sign astronomical deals. Usually breaking some sort of record for how much x player gets paid per year. But while these athletes are living it up during their playing days while the cash is still flowing, the money stops coming in at one point and they’re left grasping at a very expensive lifestyle that’s slowly moving out of their reach.

The smart ones are the ones you never hear about. That’s because they still have their money. They’re not spending a huge chunk of cash on cars or giving handouts to friends. Some invest and others just show some restraint and live on a budget like normal people. Albeit, a more generous budget than the average person is used to. But there are always those that don’t know when to quit. And sooner or later their names are going to be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Debts are also a big part of former athletes going broke after retiring. Be it legal debts, gambling debts or child support, those payments can really do a good deal of damage to a bank account that hasn’t seen any regular income for a while. But no matter the circumstance these types of things can happen to any athlete. It might seem impossible for someone to blow millions to someone living on a more modest income, but once you’ve got the money you’re only problem is figuring out what to spend it on.

20 Mark Brunell

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The former Jaguars quarterback amassed some $50 million dollars in his 19 year playing career. Yet Brunell was forced to file chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010. So how did he blow all his cash? A series of bad investments cost Brunell his fortune. While most of these athletes lose their cash due to poor money management, Brunell had the misfortune of being involved in a series of failed real estate and business ventures. In total, Brunell poured his cash into nine separate enterprises. Only half of those are up and running. He had $25 million in liabilities when he filed for bankruptcy but had a mere $5.5 million in assets at the time.

19 Michael Vick

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He might be a free agent, but don’t expect Michael Vick to sign on with a team any time soon. The veteran quarterback’s days in the NFL seem to be numbered but he’s definitely seen worse. In 2008, while in the midst of the dog fighting ring scandal that would permanently stain his image, Vick filed for bankruptcy after being drowned in $20 million worth of legal debt. After coming back to the NFL, Vick earned more than $49 million with the Eagles and Jets, yet was forced to live on a fixed income while paying off his debts.

18 Allen Iverson

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During his career, Allen Iverson won an MVP award and was an 11-time All-Star in 15 seasons as a pro. But as is the case for many players after retirement, Iverson didn’t get to hold on to his cash long after he was done with putting on a jersey. He totaled over $150 million worth of earnings during his playing career yet still managed to find himself in a bad financial situation when all was said and done. So what did it for Iverson? Alcohol, gambling, friends, family as well as a personal hair stylist that followed him around during away games is what cost Iverson over time.

17 Johnny Unitas

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In a time where passing the ball was slowly becoming more and more common in the NFL, Johnny Unitas stood out as one of the premier passers of his era. The former Baltimore Colt had retired as one of the best to play the position at the time and proved to be the essential quarterback of the 1960s. But almost twenty years after he retired, Unitas found himself with no money. A string of bad investment deals and loans left him millions in debt, forcing him to declare bankruptcy. A decade later, he sadly died of a sudden heart attack.

16 Antoine Walker

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The life of an NBA All-Star can be one of luxury and blithe. It can also be very hard to give up once the dream is over. As an NBA player, Antoine Walker seemed to be living it up off the court, wearing designer suits and driving luxury sports cars. It’s not like he couldn’t afford it. Walker totaled $110 million over his career, but his taste for expensive living led him to squander all of his cash and declare bankruptcy in 2010 with $12.74 million in liabilities and $4.28 million in assets. It’s sad but not surprising when you take into account that he’d completely blown through his entire rookie salary as soon as he came into the league.

15 Marion Jones

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In Sydney, Marion Jones brought home five Olympic medals earning a great deal of admiration from fans and fellow athletes. The sprinter signed a number of endorsements after her epic Olympic performance, only to have her medals taken away several years after when it was revealed that she’d used steroids. Jones passed a short amount of time in prison after misleading authorities and slowly saw her professional career slip away. In 2013, she’d filed for bankruptcy not long after reports were released saying that she was sitting on a measly $2,000 nest egg. She did manage to hang on with the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock for a year, earning the league minimum of $35,000.

14 Terrell Owens

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Terrell Owens might’ve not made many friends over the course of his playing career in the NFL, but the old receiver certainly did make a lot of money. Between contracts, a reality TV show and multiple endorsements, Owens made around $80 million in his 15 year NFL career, but bad money management along with a poorly timed venture in real estate right before the crash in 2008, left Owens grasping at straws. What’s more, he had to endure a staggering $44,600 in child support payments per month. Looks like his mouth wasn’t the only thing getting him into trouble. His playing days long over, Owens is making peanuts compared to what he was making in the NFL and admitted that he was “in hell” back in 2012.

13 O.J. Simpson

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While he might’ve escaped any jail time (during that trial), O.J. Simpson still felt the consequences of what perspired after the events of June 12th, 1994. After being charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, Simpson was acquitted of all charges in a controversial murder case. But he didn’t win the civil suit that was filed against him by both the victims’ families. Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million but stated that he was $850,000 in debt at the time. After having made close to $3 million selling off memorabilia, most of Simpson’s assets – including his Heisman – were also sold in order to pay off the suit.

12 Lenny Dykstra

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The former ballplayer seemed to have things working out nicely in retirement. Lenny Dykstra was making a more than comfortable living as a business man and was worth $58 million in 2009. But then everything he’d built came crashing down on him. He was charged with credit card fraud, bouncing checks to escorts and providing false financials when leasing certain vehicles. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009, claiming he owed over $37.1 million but had only 24.6 million in assets. After being arrested in 2011 for grand theft auto, Dykstra was sentenced to three years in prison.

11 John Daly

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Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship as well as the British Open four years later. His success earned him a great deal of endorsements along with his winnings. But Daly has struggled with a gambling addiction for years. In the course of 15 years, he lost anywhere between $50-60 million. But that wasn’t the only thing contributing to his huge losses. A struggle with alcoholism, four marriages, lost endorsements and child support payments pretty much cleared out his bank. He did earn around $150,000 on the European Tour in 2012, but between his gambling and child support payments, it’s not hard to guess that he doesn’t end up keeping much of what he makes anymore.

10 Pete Rose

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Initially thought to be a Hall of Famer at the end of his career, Pete Rose greatly damaged his reputation, along with his chances of induction, when it was reported that he’d allegedly bet on baseball games, which he finally admitted to recently. The accusations earned him a lifetime suspension from baseball. Eight months later, Rose’s image took another hit. He was found guilty of having filed a false tax return in 1990. The stunt earned him a fine, community service as well as a stint in a correctional facility.

9 Latrell Sprewell

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Latrell Sprewell’s career has always been surrounded by controversy. During his playing career, Sprewell has made over $100 million but his eccentric personality made him a liability for NBA teams later on in his career. While with the Warriors, Sprewell choked and then later punched P.J. Carlesimo after he criticized Sprewell’s passing. The stunt got him suspended and forced him to look for a new team. Later, he dismissed a three year $21 million contract offer saying that it wasn’t enough to feed his children. He was out of the league after the next year, making his rejection of that contract a huge mistake. Well now he’s broke. After continuous mishaps and bad publicity following his retirement – including the mother of his children suing him for $200 million – Sprewell is another of many former athletes to lose their fortunes.

8 Kenny Anderson

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Having started his NBA career in the time of huge contracts, Kenny Anderson took advantage of the large sums of cash being thrown his way. After many years of production, Anderson finally retired. But Anderson too fell victim to the trap awaiting so many others like him. It’s one thing to maintain a certain lifestyle while living off an NBA contract, it’s another thing entirely when the dream is over and money slowly starts getting sparse. Anderson spent a ton of money after retiring and was left with little when all was said and done. In a bit of good news, Anderson decided to go back to school and got a degree in Organizational Leadership.

7 Scottie Pippen

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The Chicago Bulls legend might have six career NBA titles, but his life off the court since hanging up his jersey has been bleak. While most players lose their money due to foolish sending, Pippen is part of the minority of players who tried – and subsequently failed – to do something smart with their career earnings. Pippen lost most of his $120 million of his earnings on Wall Street and multiple failed business ventures.

6 Darren McCarty

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The NHLer got himself into financial trouble well before he’d retired from the sport. In 2006, McCarty filed for bankruptcy with $6.2 million in liabilities. He’d initially lost a handful of money gambling, while losing more to bad investments and poor money management. As for the gambling, McCarty was adamant that he’d not gambled any of his money on sporting events. While he might’ve not damaged the integrity of the game, McCarty was more than a little embarrassed once news of his bankruptcy claim first surfaced.

5 Evander Holyfield

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Probably known more to casual fans for being the guy that got his ear bit off by Mike Tyson than the fantastic boxer he was, Evander Holyfield wasn’t able to hold on to his multi-millions. Holyfield incredibly lost all of his $230 million career earnings due in part to heavy gambling, luxury purchases and loads of child support payments. He went from living in a mansion to a condo after owing $14 million in mortgage payments. With 11 kids and a ton of child support payments added in, it’s no wonder Holyfield didn’t go broke sooner.

4 Lawrence Taylor

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One of the greatest players to ever play on the defensive side of the ball, Lawrence Taylor lost more than money during his long downward spiral since retiring in 1993. The Hall of Fame linebacker developed an addiction to cocaine that saw him enter rehab four times. Now apparently sober for over a decade, Taylor had spent a long time maintaining a very expensive addiction. Coupled along with a bunch of bad decisions over the years, it’s no wonder that Taylor eventually had to file for bankruptcy in 1998.

3 Warren Sapp

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The former Buccaneer and Raider is known for two things; getting after the quarterback and his ridiculous collection of Nike shoes. There’s no doubting that Sapp had a great career on the field, but it’s what he did off of it that really hurt him. With over $75 million to his name by the end of his career, it Sapp took several years to finally burn through it all. Multiple lawsuits from the five women he’s fathered children with and the IRS, along with really needless spending all led to him filing for bankruptcy in 2012.

2 Mike Tyson

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In a career that saw him make $300 million, Mike Tyson still managed to squander it all away. Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003 after being $27 million in debt. Tyson used up all of his earnings and more, and reportedly spent close to $5 million on cars alone. The former Heavyweight champ made a plethora of terrible life choices over time, including a three year stint in jail, but after losing over a quarter billion that he’d earned through over a decade of boxing, Tyson had to change how he went about things. By all accounts, he's on the right track today and has climbed out of the excessive debt he was in.

1 Dennis Rodman

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Dennis Rodman was always known for his off court antics as a player, but recently his constant visits to North Korea and public controversy regarding some of his views on the country have painted him in a somehow more negative light. Last year, it was reported that Rodman was “extremely sick” and broke to boot. He owed over $800,000 in unpaid child support that he could no longer afford along with an additional $50,000 in spousal support.

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