Money changes people. They may claim otherwise but it does. It’s one thing for those who grow up rich and well-off, they don’t really consider the struggle of others to make ends meet. But when someone gets a major windfall, it does transform them. Stories are plentiful of people who won the lottery and immediately blew their millions on things they didn’t need, spending just because they could. It happens a lot so it makes sense that athletes are not only not immune to this but more prone to wild stuff of spending than others.
The TV series “Ballers” and “Survivor’s Remorse” both showcase the effects huge money has on young players. The pressure to show off, to be in the big time; it can lead to bad decisions regarding money and that’s without family and friends on your back wanting their own cut. Athletes are prone to buying stuff just for appearances, not what’s needed (as one line in “Ballers” goes, “If it rides, drives or flies, lease it”) and letting their personal eccentricities overwhelm common sense. It’s amazing to see what guys will waste their cash on and some have paid a hefty price for it in the end. Here are 20 of the most bizarre purchases made by athletes and showing how money can shake one’s sense.
20 Al Jefferson - Bed
Basketball players are tall guys so a big bed is only natural. But Jefferson’s bed is so huge that a 6-foot-9 guy looks like a kid on it. Ten feet by 12 and costing $23,000, this thing could hold either four silverback gorillas, two grizzly bears or a mini-Cooper. In other words, he spent as much on this bed as most people do for their entire homes. One only wonders how many cramped beds Jefferson grew up on to overcompensate with this monster to sleep in.
19 Scottie Pippen - Private Jet
Just how much do you travel that you need your own jet? Even for a top level star like Scottie Pippen, buying a private aircraft was a bit much, especially as your coaches demand you travel with the team as much as you can. Pippen paid about $4 million before discovering that the jet was in disrepair and required another million to get up to task. So instead, he just let it sit on the runway, spending over $5 million on a plane that never left the ground. Better leave the “air” stuff to Jordan.
18 Miami Heat - Bar Tab
When you win a championship, it’s only natural to celebrate big time. When the Big Three of the Miami Heat finally won the NBA title in 2012, a party was a given. But it was still amazing when the word came that LeBron James and company spent over $200,000 in Fountainbleau’s LIV nightclub. The items included 33 bottles of Cristal, a magnum of Grey Goose and a $25,000 bottle of Dom Perignon.
Each member of the 16-man roster more than had a good time and it's probably a good thing the Heat didn’t three-peat or the alcohol supply of Miami would have suffered.
17 Alfonso Soriano - Blue Hummer
Hummers are well known as huge gas guzzlers and rough rides in a lot of ways but Soriano seemed to go out of his way to make this even more obnoxious. After paying about $600,000 for the Hummer, Soriano then spent an extra hundred grand painting it solid blue and then tricking it out with a 10-speaker rear stereo, a solid silver plaque with his name on it and more. Finally after all that effort, Soriano has been trying to dump this monstrosity but so far no takers, making this one crappy 'investment'.
16 Shaq - Superman Items
Shaquille O’Neal is well known for his imposing size and powerful play. His time on the Lakers and the Heat earned him several championship rings and a net worth of a quarter of a billion dollars. That gives him cash to blow on his favorite thing: Superman. Yes, ever since his college days, Shaq has had an affinity for the Man of Steel (even starring in the horrible “Steel” movie) and that’s shown in his purchases. There’s a customized S-shaped bed that cost $15,000 and a tricked-out SUV covered with the emblem that has a cost of $45,000. Even most comic book geeks would consider spending this much for the Last Son of Krypton a feat far beyond lesser men.
15 Michael Vick - Fish Pond
When you think Michael Vick, the first thing that pops into mind is dogs. But apparently, he’s got a serious fish affinity, as he spent $85,000 on a massive custom fish pond for his home plus an additional $48K for the landscaping. That’s not to mention the cost of buying and feeding all those fish which was crazier as Vick was facing jail at the time and already blowing about $3.5 million according to his bankruptcy reports. He’s bounced back a bit since but maybe next time, a small aquarium would be a better choice.
14 Curt Schilling - 38 Studios Video Game Company
Schilling became an icon for millions for pitching with a bloody foot to help the Red Sox end the Curse of the Bambino and retiring a millionaire. He decided to use his money to forge a video game company, ignoring the tiny fact that he had absolutely no experience in such a venture. Investing $50 million, Schilling set up a 30,000 foot office space and set work for “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” their big debut. It came out in 2012 and was promptly a huge disappointment. Shortly afterward, the company filed for bankruptcy and was out of business, showing Schilling may have been a video game fan but better at the playing than creating.
13 Kobe Bryant - Cristal Champagne
Bryant is well known for his competitive nature but this is going a bit too far. In 2007, he and his wife were in Las Vegas for a club opening when they saw professional poker player Antonio Esfandiari order two bottles of Cristal champagne, each worth $1,400. Bryant then proceeded to order five bottles of the same drink. Esfandiara then ordered 10 bottles and Bryant thus topped him with 15. So how did he enjoy his purchase? He didn’t. He walked right out of the club after paying the $21,000 tab without taking a sip of this champagne. That’s a good sign you’ve got way too much money to play with.
12 DeShawn Stevenson - Home ATM
We all know how it is. You’re out, you realize you need cash fast and have to hit the ATM which can be a hassle. So on the one hand, you can understand Stevenson’s move but that doesn’t make it any less bizarre. The forward who last played for the Hawks, Stevenson spent $3,500 to have an ATM installed inside his own kitchen. It’s constantly stocked with $20,000 in cash, ready to use at any time which makes it an odd bit. Even crazier; if a friend feels like using it, they’re hit with a $4.50 service charge that goes right to Stevenson. That’s taking being a personal bank to a whole new level.
11 Nelson Cruz - Fire Truck
On the one hand, this is a cool thing but it’s also rather odd. The Dominican Republic native apparently grew up in a poor neighborhood without proper resources so when he made his millions in baseball, he decided to make up for it. Thus, he bought a fire truck. Yes, a full-scale ladder and hose truck picked up at auction for $20,000.
To be fair, Cruz did give a pair of keys to his hometown fire chief just in case they needed it for an emergency but otherwise, he’s got a fire truck sitting in his driveway. A lot of kids dream of being firefighters when they grow up but this is taking the love a bit too far.
10 Rollie Fingers - Pistachio Farm
A seven-time All Star who was part of the A’s dynasty of the ‘70s, Fingers was known for two things; his fantastic throwing arm and his wild mustache. After retiring with MVP and Cy Young Awards, he settled into various businesses but in 2007, it was announced that he owed the state of Wisconsin a record $1.4 million in taxes. It wasn’t his first brush with bankruptcy but notable that in his assets, Fingers showcased a portfolio made entirely of pistachio farms. Yes, millions off the game and he put it all in growing nuts. The jokes come way too easily.
9 Warren Sapp - Shoes, Watches, Bearskin Rug, etc...
When the Super Bowl champion Hall of Famer declared bankruptcy, it was a bit of a surprise to some. But then came the list of what he’d spent his money on and the only surprise was that it had taken so long for him to file. Besides the usual (fancy cars, ultra-lavish mansion which included a water slide for the pool), Sapp’s filings revealed a collection of 240 pairs of Nike shoes, a collection of watches (the cheapest of which was $1,500), a $1,200 bearskin rug, a million dollar painting and a pair of boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali.
Sapp also reported having lost his Super Bowl and National Championship rings and sets an example for how you need to be a tad smarter with your cash.
8 Chad Johnson Semi-Truck
It’s one thing to have a flashy car but Johnson takes it to a new level. He spent $100K on a semi-truck that’s black, gaudy and utterly horrible to look at. There’s no way you can park it anywhere decent, drive it on a regular street and it only gets four miles to a gallon. It’s more ridiculous considering Johnson hasn't played in the NFL since 2012. Unless this thing is secretly Optimus Prime, it’s just a total waste.
7 Evander Holyfield - Mansion
There are plenty of guys who blew their cash on huge mansions. But Holyfield outdid all of them with his $20 million, 54,000 square-foot manor with 109 rooms, two bowling alleys, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and costs $155,000 a year in taxes. That’s not a house, that’s a resort hotel. Holyfield seemed unable to keep up (he was sued for half a million in unpaid grounds keeping fees) as it was eventually foreclosed on by J.P. Morgan and sold for only $7.5 million. Maybe all those blows to the head affected Evander’s mind too much to see how (even with 11 kids) you can have a house way too large.
6 Joe Johnson - Shoe Collection
We know basketball guys wear sneakers, that’s fine. And if you want a big collection, okay, cool. But Johnson goes way beyond that as he boasts over 1,500 pairs of shoes. To put that in perspective, if he wore a different pair of shoes each day, it would take him over four years before he needed a repeat pair. It’s estimated to have cost him $400,000 and needing 2,000 cubic feet of space with a temperature-controlled room that has a fingerprint security device, mirrored ceiling and a hoop. Proof that you don’t have to be female to go wild over footwear.
5 Marquis Daniels - Necklace
A bench player who is only making roughly $854,000, Daniels somehow decided he was worthy of commissioning a 3-D diamond and gold pendant of his likeness. Daniels didn’t reveal the price but taking in the street value of the jewels and the labor involved, it had to cost a minimum of $60,000. What's worse is it looks like a $5 trinket you can buy at the Bucks' souvenir stands. To be that sure of yourself is wonders for the ego but hardly great when it comes to being taken seriously.
4 Arian Foster - Segway Gifts
Buying gifts for your teammates for Christmas is a great idea. It creates a bond, provides a nice reward and it’s a great thing to get yourself endeared. But Arian Foster did something odd in 2012 as he decided to buy his Texan offensive linemen matching gifts: Segways. Yes, those whacky one-man transporters which was roughly $7,000 apiece. You can imagine the coaches weren’t happy about seeing the team roll around on these rather than doing laps. Also, they’re built to only hold about 275 pounds tops, which is far less than many members of that team. Maybe next time, Adrian, gift cards would do.
3 Chris Johnson - Gold Teeth
It takes a special cost to do something this hideous. Gold teeth are nothing new but the man formerly known as CJ2K just went all out, getting his entire upper grill redone in gold. The result is a grin that looks horrible, something out of a monster movie and comes off gaudy and not impressive. It costs about $1,350 to do one golden tooth so Johnson’s bill is up to $9,000 assuming he doesn’t get more done. Contrary to popular opinion, gold doesn’t make your teeth immune to disease or cavities and even hurts dental work down the line. He may think he looks great but Johnson just shows that “putting your money where your mouth is” should not be taken literally.
2 Mike Tyson - Tigers
In am odd way, it makes sense. Tyson has always been a man who’s played by his own rules and done what he wants as few are willing to stop him. From his height as boxing’s biggest star to his rebirth as a self-deprecating celebrity, Tyson has earned millions and spent them wildly, including a lavish home. Without a doubt, his most notable purchase is a trio of white Bengal Tigers, each one costing $70,000 to own. That’s not including how each costs roughly $200,000 a year to feed and $125,000 for a trainer/keeper when Tyson was out of town. That’s a hell of an annual drag so no wonder Tyson sold them off. When a purchase can outdo a $2 million bathtub, you know it’s outrageous.
1 Gilbert Arenas - Shark Tank
Dogs, tigers and such are one thing. But sharks? Who the hell thinks these monster fish are the perfect thing to have in your home? Gilbert Arenas, that’s who. While playing for Washington, Arenas spent over a million dollars to have his mansion supplied with a monster fish tank capable of holding sharks. That’s not including $5,000 in monthly repairs and oh, yes, the tiny thing of how much it costs to buy and care for a freaking shark.
Arenas was dealt to Orlando and has now put his mansion up for $3.5 million, although the shark tank has been removed. I guess prospective buyers felt having to maintain a shark tank wasn't for them.