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Six Athletes Who Lost Obscene Amounts of Money

With just one look at pro athletes many people would assume that money would never be a problem for an individual that has reached such a high level of achievement. The numbers that they reportedly earn are astronomical at times and seem highly unreal despite the fact that they are often made public knowledge.

Yet for all that, some of the best athletes in the world, or at least some of the most renowned, have massive issues when it comes to holding onto their fortunes. In fact it’s safe to state that those with the means to pay for whatever they want often have bigger issues with self-discipline when it comes to spending than the poorest fans that follow their careers.

Keep in mind these athletes are on a different level of existence than the majority of their fan base, and don’t often have to wait for their desires to be met. This however only seems to invite further disaster when it comes to overspending and squandering the vast fortunes that these individuals are given.

There’s no doubt that they earn their paychecks, as the self-sacrifice and dedication to their sport breeds the type of excellence that warrants such a payday, but the mere fact that such individuals can’t exert that same type of discipline to their finances seems a bit disturbing, not to mention curious. When it comes to athletes who lost money however, the following pro athletes left no question as to how they lost their fortunes.

6. Latrell Sprewell

Renowned for assaulting his coach and turning down a very expensive contract to play for roughly $21 million, Sprewell caught a great deal of flak for stating that he had children to feed and couldn’t play for so little. Take a moment to laugh just as so many critics did, as the mere though that this type of salary couldn’t feed a single family seems to invite such scorn. At the height of his career he was making well over $14 million a year.

Sprewell actually made around $96 million when he was still a popular name, but the former Knick’s star was in for a long drop when he was sued for $200 million in child support. He also had his luxury yacht repossessed while still owing a little more than $1 million on it. It’s safe to say that one doesn’t always need to be a wise or moral person to become a sports icon, so long as you don’t mind losing it all along the way.

5. Evander Holyfield

Child support seems to be a trend that many pro athletes tend to follow. Or rather, the act of forgetting to pay for child support seems to be the trend, while being sued by their ex-wives, girlfriends, or mistresses is the consequence. Holyfield was an iconic name in the ring and a fierce competitor that managed to accumulate around $250 million throughout his long and illustrious career.

But even with this impressive fortune he managed to lose two homes and nearly everything he’d made thanks to his inability to write those child support checks fast enough. If not for his current age and the fact that he gave nearly everything to his eleven children he might have had enough in the tank to make a comeback and get back on top again.

4. John Daly

$50 to $60 million.  Just mutter that for a little bit to get the feel of it, play around with it in your head. That type of figure could feed, clothe, and house a moderately-sized town for a good deal of time. Unfortunately for professional golfer John Daly that amount never seemed to last more than it took to reach the casinos and then leave with his tail between his legs. Who needs money when you have the talent to make more, right?

Daly’s fortune has often made its way to the many casinos he frequents, where he’s reportedly lost up to $1.65 million at the slots alone. That’s a long time to sit for a guy that’s used to walking the fairways, but so long as there’s a drink in one hand and money in the other it might seem like no time at all.

3. Michael Vick

Among the more notorious athletes that have lost an obscene amount of money in their day, Vick stands out as one of the absolutely most reviled. Having been imprisoned for running a dog-fighting ring, Vick lost his $130 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons, as well as his endorsements that would have brought even more millions to his pocket.

After filing for bankruptcy he still reportedly owed $19 million, but after signing a $100 million deal to come play for the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s easy to assume that his initial debts will be erased rather quickly. Whether he manages to keep what remains has yet to be seen.

2. Mark Brunell

You don’t often think of a backup player having as many issues with money as the starter, but Brunell, after accumulating around $50 million throughout his career, actually had to file Chapter 11 after losing his shirt on a few bad real estate investments.

In fact it was reported that he was $25 million in debt at that time, which is enough to make most people shake their heads and wonder how such a thing could possibly happen. Even backups seem to be blinded by the extra zeroes on their paychecks.

1. Mike Tyson

The former champ is a cautionary tale for any athlete aspiring to be the highest paid and most famous name in the sporting world. He amassed a fortune of roughly $400 million during his career, and lost all but the cost of the tattoo he had etched on his face.

From divorce settlements to his time spent in prison to the jewelry, clothing, and lavish lifestyle he enjoyed, Tyson did nearly everything wrong with his money that an athlete could possibly do. It’s also said that he managed to spend $2 million on a bathtub. One can only hope the thing offered more than just a comfortable basin with strategically-aimed water jets.


If you’re scratching your head right now wondering how anyone could possibly let go of so much money in so little time, don’t bother. The numbers lost are to many so unrealistic that the simple contemplation seems to defy any logical rationalization that might be offered. Pro athletes are paid a considerable sum of money for their skills, but sadly there is no set price for common sense.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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