Sometimes the money in pro wrestling seems limitless. The best superstars in the business can earn several millions of dollars per year through their inflated salaries, and endless streams of sponsorship and endorsements. Even the mid carders can earn themselves quite a payday if they're on the right card.
Vince McMahon leads the way with a personal wealth around the three quarters of a billion dollars mark. The Rock is reportedly worth somewhere in the vicinity of $160 million while Stone Cold Steve Austin is up there with$50 million. The likes of Kurt Angle, the Big Show, Bret Hart and even Jeff Jarrett were all quite sensible with the money they have earned, and are reaping the benefits today.
But it's certainly not the same for everyone. As a pro wrestler you live a life on the road. You could perform in excess of 250 shows per year, and barely have time to spend with family. And you can forget sleeping in your own bed for any decent stretch of time, unless you're unfortunate enough to be injured which isn't entirely uncommon. That can prove very costly too. Most wrestling companies, the WWE included, don't pay money into a pension either. Put simply, the cash you earn while contracted with the company is the money you take home when your time is up. That means you might earn tens of millions of dollars throughout your career, and come out of it with almost nothing to show.
The temptations are numerous and addictive on the road. Fancy restaurants, alcohol, pain pills and stronger narcotics are all common money pits. As are fast cars, towering mansions, metal lunch boxes, pieces of Coca Cola memorabilia and anything else you can buy in a shop to fashion into a random collection. Here are 20 wrestlers who know a little something about wasting money.
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20 Joey Mercury
Joey Mercury had an active wrestling career on the independent circuit which led to two separate runs with WWE, earning him plenty of money along the way. He's never been overly good with cash though. Mercury has admitted that he was a drug addict and alcoholic from the age of 15, and during that time overdosed three times and wrecked three cars. He was eventually released from the WWE in 2007 because of his drug problem, but says he got himself clean soon after.
So bad were his finances upon his release, CM Punk came in and bought out the mortgage on Mercury's home which was heading towards foreclosure.
19 Louie Spicolli
Sadly, another wrestler who was addicted to drugs and didn't make it through the other side. He wrestled with the WWE in the mid 1990s but was released in 1996 because of his drug problem. He ended up in WCW and even did a bit of announcing when he wasn't in the ring. Most of his income funded his drug problem, but he had reportedly cleaned himself up while with WCW only to be found dead in 1998 from an overdose of Soma and wine.
Batista earned plenty of cash during his decade long run with WWE and he's invested a lot of it into his collection of metal lunch boxes. It all started when he bought an ET lunchbox for his second wife, Angie, from who he's now divorced. He's added plenty of lunchboxes over the years, which are arranged prominently in a room of his massive house. Included in the collection is a Green Hornet lunchbox with Bruce Lee on it, and a custom made lunchbox with Batista and Eddie Guerrero on the side. Despite the lunchbox addiction, Batista is still sitting on a decent pile of cash, especially with his now booming film career.
17 Nick Gage
Gage did his best work with Contact Zone Wrestling where he became the company's first ever heavyweight champion in 1999. He certainly wasn't earning the big bucks of the WWE, but he still had cash coming in. Then in 2010 claiming he was homeless and penniless from drug addiction, he robbed a bank landing himself a temporary $3,000 and a much more permanent prison sentence. He was released earlier this year.
16 Byron Robertson
Byron Robertson began a long wrestling career in the 1960s and had a brief run with the WWE in the 1980s. His best gimmick was a blue and green face painted heel known as The Missing Link. Robertson spent his money on drugs, from anabolic steroids to marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines. He was also an alcoholic. His 2006 autobiography tells a story of homelessness, suicide attempts and failed relationships. Robertson died in 2007 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
15 Dynamite Kid
Tom Billington was one half of the British Bulldogs tag team. He abused steroids, and turned to painkillers and alcohol once he started to rack up injuries in the ring. He now lives in a wheelchair having lost the use of his left leg following years of ignoring doctors' orders to stop wrestling. Looking back on the decisions he made, Billington said he needed the money, so he had to keep wrestling. Drugs and subsequent medical bills have drained most of the money Billington ever earned.
14 Andre The Giant
Andre The Giant was arguably the greatest attraction of all time, as crowds used to pile in to wrestling arenas to see the big man in action. He suffered from gigantism which meant two things - he never stopped growing, and his life expectancy was much shorter than the rest of us. So he used to enjoy himself. He was paid a huge amount of money and squandered most of it on food and drink, two passions he loved indulging in excessively. Drinking 100 beers a night wasn't uncommon and once he consumed an astounding 156 in one session. He was also capable of eating 16 steaks and 12 lobsters in one sitting, usually washed down with 10 bottles of wine, a case of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Costly.
13 Jerry Lawler
Another wrestler with a strange collecting addiction. The King has a four car garage attached to his home wholly and solely to house his toy collection. Most of it is made up of Coca Cola memorabilia, of which he has everything you could ever imagine. Old radios, knives, antique coke bottles and everything in between populates Lawler's horde. He's traveled all over the world as a wrestler, and often brings back Coca Cola memorabilia from different countries.
He says he's never tasted a drop of alcohol in his life - who needs it when you have Coca Cola. Oh, and he loves Superman, and has invested significantly in funding that passion too.
12 Lex Luger
Luger had a successful wrestling career in the 1990s with WWE and WCW, but his life suffered a downward spiral once WCW was swallowed up in 2001. He had several costly run ins with the law, and it all came to a head in 2003 when his girlfriend Elizabeth Hulette died of an overdose in Luger's arms. The death was ruled accidental but Luger was charged with 13 counts of drug possession after police found more than 1,000 pills at the couple's Atlanta townhouse.
Luger eventually became a born again Christian and managed to get his life back on track. Looking back on those hedonistic and outrageously expensive drug fueled years, he has since said "If you snort it, spray it, shoot it, inject it, I did it , buddy."
X-Pac had a very decent run in WWE at the turn of the century, but his life spiraled out of control soon after leaving the company. The money he earned went towards feeding his meth addiction which he admits lasted several years. Eventually he kicked the habit. "You finally just become such a dirtball f***** loser, you finally go enough and you tap out and go okay I'm ready to f***** pick myself up off the ground here and start heading back in the right direction."
He eventually turned to marijuana and then to alcohol before trying to hang himself one night after a mix of Bacardi and Valium following a fight with his girlfriend at the time. He survived and has since linked back up with WWE.
10 Blackjack Mulligan
We're not sure what WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Mulligan spent all of his money on, but we know it was something. That's because in 1990 he came up with an ingenious solution to solve his money problems. Along with his son Kendall Windham, Blackjack Mulligan forged half a million dollars in counterfeit $20 bills. Unfortunately for Mulligan, the police discovered his ploy and locked him in prison for two years.
9 Vince McMahon
McMahon is the richest man in pro wrestling today by a country mile, and his net worth isn't too far off the one billion dollar mark. Under his stewardship the WWE has grown into a multi-million dollar global business while swallowing up several major competitors along the way. But he's not always been as fiscally responsible as he should have been.
Some of his failed ventures over the years include the World Bodybuilding Federation and the disaster that was the XFL. Had he just stuck to wrestling, Vince would probably be well and truly lounging in the Billionaire Club right now.
8 Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
The Snake left his mark on the pro wrestling world with his unique gimmick which involved bringing snakes to the ring, like his python Damien. But about four years ago all that was barely a distant memory. Roberts had hit rock bottom, addicted to drugs and alcohol and claiming he was 'just waiting to die'. Diamond Dallas Page came to the rescue of his old mentor, who had ballooned to 300 pounds by then. Page cleaned him up, helped him lose 80 pounds through yoga and turned his life around. Last year Roberts was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame completing his remarkable turnaround. He's since been assisting DDP to help turn Scott Hall's life around.
7 Brock Lesnar
You can't help but wonder just how lucrative Brock Lesnar's contract was during his heyday in the WWE. The guy was a freakish attraction when he burst onto the scene and quickly became a superstar in every sense of the word. It meant more money than he knew what to do with, so he started spending.
There were expensive dinners, naturally. There were sports cars and motorcycles, but perhaps the most outrageous of all was the acquisition of his business jet which reportedly cost $400,000. That actually seems a reasonable price for a jet, but when fuel, maintenance and all the rest is considered that figure becomes much larger. Luckily for Brock, his current contract includes the stipulation for a private jet to fly him to and from shows. He also seems to live a quiet life on his farm when he's not delivering suplexes.
6 Tony Atlas
Atlas has enjoyed a fascinating wrestling, weightlifting and bodybuilding career over several decades. He was discovered by Vince McMahon Sr. in the late '70s and became an instant hit in what was then the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Then in the early '80s he just up and left for a woman on the west coast. He was welcomed back after a few years and even won a tag team championship, but things weren't so good underneath the surface.
He'd been divorced four times, he got into drugs and his money soon dried up. He found himself homeless in Maine for a year and a half eating out of dumpsters and not brushing his teeth for a year. He was rescued off a park bench in freezing conditions one day by a woman named Monica who he went on to marry. Atlas has since bounced back and was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2006.
5 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn turned up in WWE in early 2000 as part of the Radicalz. Four years later he was shot in Atlanta while trying to save a a lady who was being attacked by two men. It forced him to retire from wrestling after doctors wouldn't clear him to return to the ring. For several years he disappeared and people assumed he was dead before he resurfaced in 2009.
It turns out Perry Saturn had fallen into a meth addiction and was homeless for two years. He lived a life of lying and thieving to fund his addiction before eventually pulling himself off the mat and getting his life back on track. He returned to wrestling in 2011.
4 Scott Hall
One of wrestling's biggest names during the 1990s, but a lifetime of substance abuse has left him only a shell of the industry giant he once was. He should probably be retired and living a life of luxury. Instead most of the money he ever earned was spent on alcohol, drugs and numerous failed stints in rehab. We're talking $40,000 for 28 days rehab centers. In more recent times Diamond Dallas Page and Jake Roberts have helped steer Hall's life back on track. Unfortunately for Hall, financially speaking, he doesn't have much left to show for a successful wrestling career.
3 Hulk Hogan
He still sits on a pretty nice pile of cash, but it could be much more for the Hulk were it not for his expensive divorce from ex-wife Linda. She filed for divorce in 2009, and two years later she received her share of the couple's assets. That included roughly 70 per cent of the $10.41 million they had in savings. It also included 40% ownership in Hogan's various companies, and an additional $3 million property settlement. It hasn't been a good few years for Hogan after he was essentially blacklisted from WWE's website and programming earlier this year.
He may have won the Million Dollar Championship during his time in WWE but now can't seem to rub two pennies together. But here's the thing. He earned more than half a million dollars a year in his prime, and claims to have never smoked, drunk alcohol, taken a pain pill or indulged in something more sinister. Yet now he spends his days selling old Virgil merchandise on the streets of New York City or charging people for photographs and autographs. He's also set up a GoFundMe campaign which he hopes will turn himself into a millionaire. At the time of writing he's raised $410. Go figure.
1 Ric Flair
Ric Flair was as bad with money as he was good at wrestling. The Nature Boy was an absolute legend in the ring demanding reams of cash during his heyday, but not much of that is left nowadays. One of the major issues is four failed marriages which have proven to be a massive drain on his finances. He also started a financial company in 2007 and had to file for bankruptcy the following year.
Underpinning Flair’s money issues is the lavish lifestyle he has always pursued, full of fancy restaurants, exorbitant bar tabs, fast cars and several brushes with the law. The website celebritynetworth.com has Flair's personal wealth at $5 million these days. That's after a wrestling career spanning decades where he would've demanded millions of dollars a year. Just do the math on that when you get a chance to calculate how much Flair must have spent over the years.
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