It's still surprising that pro athletes go bankrupt or even encounter money troubles. Obviously we're not not talking about semi-pro leagues or the minors or sports like lacrosse or the women's leagues, where salaries are next to nothing. We're looking at guys like Lawrence Taylor, Vince Young, Evander Holyfield and the man who bit his ear "Iron" Mike Tyson. These guys made millions and tossed it away on stupid purchases and addictions.
A half hour of financial education probably could have helped these guys, but they probably weren't interested. Let's do a quick case study with Tyson. At the height of his career, Tyson's overall wealth was estimated at around $300 million. He declared bankruptcy in 2003 and is now, twelve years later, considered to be worth around three million. If he had just squandered $200 million (leaving him with $100 million), and then some 6'5, 300 lb financial adviser had knocked him out and then calmly explained where he was headed, things could have been different. If Tyson's remaining money in this hypothetical case study was invested in an index fund (basically a mutual fund that holds the same stocks as a particular index, such as the Dow Jones, S&P, FTSE etc) earned, let's say an average of 8% (very doable), he'd have about $8,000,000 to play with annually. That's over $20,000 per day. But I digress.
Just like all other athletes, pro wrestlers go broke as well. In fact, while a few WWE superstars make great money; such as John Cena who's worth $35 million, most don't make much at all. While virtually everyone knows that Ric Flair filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and that Jake "The Snake" Roberts needed the WWE's rehab sponsor program about ten years ago, after getting help from Diamond Dallas Page, there are quite a few cases of pro wrestlers going broke that are less well known. Here are fifteen other wrestlers you might not know squandered their money.
15 Scott Hall
Whether you prefer to remember him by his real name or by Razor Ramon, Scott Hall was an icon in the 1990s, who has remained a revered name within the sport since. Regardless of the multiple championships, the fame and the money he earned along the way, Hall is one of the most storied men ever to wrestle. Scott Hall also had his share of demons. One of the founding members of the nWo was arrested numerous times throughout his career for various offenses from domestic violence to public intoxication and DUI. In connection with his legal and addiction issues, Hall declared bankruptcy, which is sometimes overlooked due to his other demons.
With the help of his friend Diamond Dallas Page, Hall has been able to get himself back on the right track. It helps to have a friend like that, as they were able to raise money online for a hip replacement and dental work for Hall, who didn't have enough to pay for it himself. Since his decline, Hall has been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and seems to have turned his life around successfully. We hope he continues on this path!
Virgil was a minimally successful wrestler back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase's bodyguard. Virgil eventually turned on DiBiase, but was no longer working for WWE as of 1994. He went to WCW for about four years after that, but retired from wrestling around 2000. He showed up again in 2010, reconciling briefly with Ted DiBiase, only for the later to walk away from him after a loss.
If you're a WWE fan, you're probably familiar with the Lonely Virgil website. He sets up his booth for autographs at conventions, but when you see pictures of these gatherings, his booth is as deserted as a western ghost town. He's also been described as unpleasant by those fans who do try to strike up a conversation while getting autographs and some have suggested that he charges too much despite not being a big star. It is widely accepted that Virgil is not doing well financially these days.
13 Perry Saturn
There are a few stories in this list that will not end nicely, but Perry Saturn's is not one of them. After wrestling in ECW and WCW for a few years in the late 1990s, he finally made the move to WWE in 2000 and remained there for two years. His stable, which didn't last long in WWE, was The Radicalz, and included Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Terri Runnels.
After being released while injured in 2002, he floated around smaller organizations in Europe and the United States, but found himself in a rough way after a nasty twist of fate in 2004. He was trying to help a woman get away from two men attacking her when he was shot in the neck. During his recovery he became addicted to drugs and eventually lost it all, ending up homeless. Many thought he was dead and even his family had no idea what he was up to. In 2009, he resurfaced, addiction-free and got married.
12 Lex Luger
A twenty year veteran of many small promotions along with WWE, WCW and TNA (not to mention a pro football career), Lex Luger had a rough time in retirement which led to most of his problems. Nonetheless, with regard to his career, he was consistently a popular figure in the sport throughout the 90s. While retired, he and his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth had a very rocky relationship and he encountered a pile of legal problems when she died of a drug overdose in 2003. He was later found to have been in violation of his probation in 2005. Around this time, he was considered to be all but completely broke.
In 2007 he suffered a compressed nerve that led to his being completely paralyzed for a short while. He's doing better now and has returned to work with the WWE on their wellness policy, so he's turned things around. He has also said that he has become a born-again Christian, due in part to the passing of his girlfriend years ago.
One of the most exciting superstars to watch back in the late 1990s, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman's life took a turn for the worse around the turn of the century. He was no longer a fan favorite and ultimately left WWE in 2002. After the departure, he became a known enthusiast for the bottle, along with various hard drugs including amphetamines and cocaine. During the years following 2002, he was in and out of rehab a few times and while some times have reported he filed for bankruptcy, that hasn't been proven to be 100% true. However, there are plenty of reports that he wasn't doing well financially, though that seems to no longer be the case.
It took a few years but he eventually turned things around. He's been working with WWE since 2011 and seems to have kicked those addictions.
While he was never the biggest name in wrestling, Kamala was a welcome sight in whatever ring he was working, whether with WWE, WCW, TNA or smaller organizations. Billed from Uganda, Kamala was actually James Harris from Mississippi. Harris was diabetic since the early 1990s and this, along with some other health issues, led to his becoming a double amputee, losing both of his legs between 2011 and 2012.
His hospital bills were more than he could handle and he sought donations to help cover the costs. He was a critic of WWE throughout his years with the company for the pay disparity that existed between superstars. More recently he has become involved with a lawsuit against WWE in response to alleged brain injuries sustained by superstars in the ring.
9 Jimmy Snuka
Retired Fijian icon Jimmy Snuka is one of the great innovators in wrestling history. While high-flying, acrobatic moves are common today, when he joined WWE back in 1982, his style was still new and he was the talk of the sport. In 1983, his then-girlfriend Nancy Argentino died of a severe head injury. While Snuka was the only suspect, charges were not filed until 2015 and, by that point, doctors found that he suffered from dementia and was unfit to stand trial for his alleged part in the murder.
Her family won a wrongful death suit against Snuka back in the 1980s but he apparently never paid because he was broke back then and couldn't afford proper legal advice or to pay the half million dollar settlement, applying for bankruptcy instead.
8 Haiti Kid
Remember Haiti Kid? This name may not be familiar to some younger readers. Raymond Kessler was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 195 and was born with dwarfism. He started wrestling in the 1970s and worked with WWE until some time in the early 1990s. He is primarily known for participating in two WrestleMania events in the 1980s. He appeared at WrestleMania II in Mr.T's corner and at WrestleMania III in a mixed tag team match that also included King Kong Bundy.
He hasn't been active in the world of wrestling since the 90s and was reported as having died back in the early 2000s. He is no longer believed to be dead, but there are some reports that he's actually homeless, living in a shelter in Brooklyn New York as of 2009.
When wrestling fans today think of Sunny, they think of her adult career, but she's also had some trouble with her finances. She had a career that one could call "eventful" if one wanted to make a serious understatement. She signed on with WWE in 1994 and had an immediate impact, forming The Bodydonnas with Chris Candido. She wrestled in ECW and WCW in the late 1990s, after leaving WWE in 1998, and ended up in smaller promotions in the 2000s.
She started getting into legal trouble in 2012 and had a half dozen arrests in a span of a few months. During the next couple of years, she lived as a full-blown booze-hound and basically destroyed her life. WWE paid for two months of a three month stint in rehab, which she says helped her turn her life around. She was in a very rough place financially for a while, but in 2016 she announced an adult film career with Vivid Entertainment and released an autobiography, so we'd be willing to bet she's doing okay now.
6 Dynamite Kid
English wrestler Dynamite Kid, known as Tom Billington away from the ring, was one of the most exciting stars of the 1980s for WWE. Aside from being a charismatic presence in the ring, he was also an incredible athlete and innovator. He was also one of those guys who treated his body like a demolition derby car. Obviously all wrestlers (and athletes for that matter) push their bodies to the limit for a living, but Billington took it to another level, sustaining more injuries than we care to count during his career.
He has a paralyzed leg and is now confined to a wheelchair. He also has heart problems and has suffered a stroke. He is another former WWE employee who is in the process of trying to sue the company over injuries and head trauma he endured while working for them. There was even a crazy rumor that he needed money, so he broke his niece's kneecaps for insurance money. We'll chose not to believe that one, but there's no doubt he'd had money issues.
5 Joey Mercury
Though mostly retired from actually performing for the promotion, Adam Birch (Joey Mercury in the ring) is now mainly used behind the scenes by the WWE. He started out in 1996 and worked for smaller promotions for eight years before he was picked up by WWE, where he stayed until his release in 2007. He returned in 2010 and has worked for the promotion since.
Shortly before his release from WWE, he came public with the fact that he had been a dedicated addict to multiple drugs for well over a decade. He was more than familiar with cocaine, heroin, pills and alcohol and he has said that one of the luckiest things that ever happened to him was being released by Vince McMahon after these admissions. Throughout his career, Joey Mercury has endured times of financial hardship due to his habits. He is living clean these days, having beaten those nasty addictions.
On the CM Punk Best in the World DVD, he told a story about how he was going to lost his house, but CM Punk bought it and sold it back to him when he got his feet back under him. It's a great story of friendship and one that show how difficult things were for Mercury for a while.
4 Nick Gage
While he certainly isn't the biggest name on the list and was never part of the WWE, the story of Nick Gage is an interesting one and definitely deserves a spot here. His entire career has been based in Combat Zone Wrestling; an awesome show with a reputation for a level of violence that blows even pre-re-branding WWE out of the water. He's known by fans of the promotion as a ten-year veteran and the first Heavyweight champion.
In 2010, Gage (Nicholas Wilson) was broke and homeless and carried out a bank robbery that he later admitted to, earning himself a five year prison sentence. He was released early but violated his parole and got tossed back in. He partially blamed his bank robbery and general downward spiral in life on a serious painkiller addiction.
3 Hulk Hogan
Despite being one of the biggest names in the history of the business of wrestling, The Hulkster had a spending problem and has dealt with financial problems more than once. Anyone who has watched the last year's worth of news about him knows he got massive pile of money after now-defunct Gawker published his private tape, which has led fans to forget about his monetary issues.
But over the years, he has routinely detailed how much money he has spent on frivolities. He was the biggest name in the business for a long time and remains one of its most storied characters, with endorsements, businesses and of course movies to accompany his time in the ring. Unfortunately his business savvy hasn't always been the greatest, and he's been known to overspend on just about anything he wants, especially when he was younger and in his prime. Of course, along with these considerations, his wife took most of what he had during their nasty (understatement?) divorce, which left him on the brink of bankruptcy. While Hulk never completely destroyed his bank account like some on this list, his financial woes deserve a spot on any list like this one.
2 Tony Atlas
Anthony "Tony Atlas" White was one of the biggest stars in the business during the early to mid 1980s and also found fame and success in the world of bodybuilding. In the late 1980s, he became heavily addicted to drugs, had a very rough love life and wound up without any money to his name. He was a mess for a while, homeless and scrounging for scraps of food.
While he was homeless in the late 1980s, he was discovered under a park bench by the woman who would become his fourth wife; Monika. He's turned things around since then and has become a published writer and has been a member of the WWE community since his return in the early 1990s. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 2006.
1 The McMahons
Now worth over a billion dollars (about $1.2 billion, depending on who you consult), with a wildly popular product that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon; things were not always so rosy for Vince and Linda McMahon. They married in 1966, and ten years later, they had two children, but were forced to file for personal bankruptcy. It wasn't lavish spending or addiction in this case, but poor investments and a couple of years of unpaid tax bills.
Vince was a young entrepreneur who was looking for an awesome way to make money, so he financed part of an Evel Knievel stunt which ultimately failed and made no money. He was also involved with a fight between Muhammad Ali and Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki, which also didn't pay off well for him. When all was said and done, the McMahons were about $1 million in debt when they filed for personal bankruptcy in 1976. Let this be a lesson to everyone out there in debt: you can bounce back, but it helps if you have the drive and intelligence of Vince McMahon.