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Athletes Who Went Broke

By The Biz Team (Siam)

There is no question that athletes in the USA are paid enormous sums of money. For those who make it into professional sports leagues like the NBA, NFL,  MLB, or NHL; salaries are often several million dollars a year. On top of that, these athletes often get multi-million dollar sponsorship deals. But they also love to spend. Many own million-dollar mansions, a fleet of luxurious cars, yachts, and tons of jewelry. Yet despite their massive wealth, many have managed to go broke.

Athletes are not immune to financial disaster. Some common reasons for losing their money are bad agents, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, and of course living a lifestyle way above their means. Here is a list of some famous athletes who have seen themselves fall from the heights of success:

Mike Tyson

When Mike Tyson was boxing, he was at the top of the world. To many, he was believed to be the most feared man on the planet. With career earnings listed at $300 million, how exactly is it that a man like Mike Tyson could lose it all? Well, where do we begin? Extravagant jewelry, including a $173,000 gold diamond necklace, limitless cars, mansions (particularly in Las Vegas), a pricey divorce, and nearly $14 million in taxes owed to the U.S. and Britain. In 2003 he declared bankruptcy in court and said he was $23 million in debt. Forbes estimated that if Tyson had his life together, his career earnings could’ve been as high as $685 million.

Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker was a former NBA basketball player who retired in 2008. He went to the University of Kentucky before being drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1996. He has achieved many things in his tenure in the NBA, like being part of a NBA All-Rookie First Team, a three time All-Star, and even winning a NBA championship in 2006. But one thing he failed to achieve, was the skill of money management. 

His career earnings are listed at $110 million. Now how did Antoine blow $110 million? In his own words, he“created a very expensive lifestyle...That’s how you lose your wealth real bad at the beginning.” His weaknesses were cars, houses, giving huge amounts of money to people by being an "open ATM,” gambling, and the collapse of his Chicago real estate firm.

Raghib “Rocket” Ismael

Raghib “Rocket” Ismael played in both the NFL and Canadian Football League. Known for his speed and agility, he has 30 career NFL touchdowns, along with 363 receptions. His career earnings were over $20 million. Unlike other athletes who have lost the majority of their earnings with luxurious lifestyles, Raghib's problem was a string of bad investments. He has reportedly sunk his earnings into more failed businesses than any other athlete. Among them, a Hard Rock Café knock off, a calligraphy business, and a cosmetics company.

Marion Jones

By the age of twelve, Marion Jones was already competing internationally as a track athlete. Because of the talent she displayed as a young child, her family moved several times while she was in high school, so that she could compete at prominent level schools. She also happened to be a great basketball player, but track was where her passion was. At the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney Australia, she won five medals. Three of them were gold, and two of them were bronze. They were great accomplishments. But throughout most of her professional career, many suspected that steroid use was involved. 

In 2007, Jones not only admitted to taking steroids, but she pleaded guilty to previously lying to a federal judge about her drug use. Not only were all of her Olympics results annulled, but she was stripped of all five of her medals. 

In January 2008, she was sentenced to six months in prison for lying to federal investigators, as well as involvement in a check-fraud scheme. Besides her short lived WNBA career with the Tulsa Shock in 2011, Jones has missed out on potential sponsorship deals and fat paychecks. Fortunately, that’s all in the past now. In 2012, she gave an exclusive interview with a ESPN staffer, where she reflected on the past. In the interview, she seemed to be ready to move on.

John Daly

John Daly, the charismatic and down to earth pro-golfer, was one of the most liked golfers on the circuit. As a kid, he taught himself how to play with golf balls he fished out of a pond in Dardanelle, Arkansas. In the 2016 “30 for 30” ESPN documentary“Hit it Hard,” viewers were astounded when he said, “We figured I lost $98 million and won about $48 million gambling. So yeah, I lost around $50 million.” He didn’t even know of the huge amount of money he had lost until he checked through his tax records  Golf wise, he made around $10-$18 million in his career. But sponsors and other deals have put way more money than that into his pocket. John lost of a lot of it, but has still managed to survive. According to him, he doesn’t regret the gambling addiction he once had. He admits there was stupidity at play, but he has simply “moved on from it.”

Dennis Rodman

This superb NBA basketball star made over $27 million in his career. He was well-liked by fans all over the world not just for his defense, but for his off-the-wall lifestyle. He wore dresses, often changed his hair color, had piercings and tattoos, and dated Madonna. Describing Rodman as eccentric would be an understatement. So with so much going for him, how did he go broke?

Rodman made the mistake of giving control of his money to a con artist named Peggy Ann Fulford. Behind his back, authorities found that she oversaw eighty-five bank accounts, and would continuously transfer money from them to her own. On top of that, not only did she launder money through Rodman’s corporations, but she lied to Rodman and other clients about attaining a degree from Harvard ,and making millions of dollars on Wall Street.

In 2018, Fulford was handed a 10-year prison sentence, and had to pay $5.7 million to her victims. But by that point, a lot of the money she extorted was long gone. Rodman seemed to have made peace with it, however, when he said in 2018, "I've got nothing to say about that. It’s over. I’ll never see my money.”


A common theme among many star athletes, is humble beginnings. They are often raised by single parents, who are struggling to make ends meet. Money management often isn't taught to people who have no money. Why bother? When you have no money, you have nothing to manage. So when someone who is accustomed to doing without, can suddenly afford anything they want, it's no surprise they take it too far. Whether or not athletes make way too much money to begin with is up for debate. But no matter what, it's gross negligence on the part of their agents who work tirelessly to get them as much money as they can, and then don't advise them on what to do with it. Perhaps money management should become a priority for those who work for our favorite athletes.

© Mind Your Biz

Athletes who went broke By Siam B

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