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Millionaire Professional Athletes Who Are Now Broke

Updated on August 19, 2016

What Happened to the Money?

Sometimes, you just can't help but be in awe of the salaries that pro athletes make. All these millions of dollars per year to throw and catch balls, shoot hoops, etc. But somewhat shocking is the number of these athletes who end up broke. In fact, it seems that many of them leave their respective leagues without a penny to their names. (Which is more than a little shocking when you hear about Pro Athletes' Pension Plans and how lucrative they are.)

How does that happen? How do guys manage to consume in so short a span of time incomes that would last most people ten lifetimes? Here are several profiles of athletes of earned princely sums during their careers and somehow threw it all away.

Travis Henry

In March 2007, NFL running back Travis Henry signed a 5-year, $22.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos. He would be cut a little more than a year later, and less than a year after that he was serving a sentence of 10 years to life in prison on drug-related charges (including financing a drug operation). Clearly, his finances took something of a tumble.

Not helping matters was the fact that, at the time he signed his contract with Denver, he was already the father of 9 children with 9 different women, with child support obligations of roughly $170,000. (He is now purported to be the father of 11 children with 10 different women.)

(Poster available at


Terrell Owens

Although not a real cuddly guy, you can't help but feel sorry for T.O. these days. With the second-most receiving yards in NFL history and probably a few good years left in him, he can't find a job (which is more a reflection on his reputation than his ability).

Unfortunately, despite a career in which he earned over $80 million, he's having serious money woes these days. Looking at what he's done over his career, it's clear that he overextended himself. He owns a slew of homes, with mortgages that amount to $750,000 annually. (He was under the impression that he could just rent them out if he ever needed money.) There were also some bad investments. (Apparently when you're a pro athlete, those are the only kinds of investments available to you.) And the cherry on top: 4 children by 4 different mothers, with monthly child support amounting to $44,600.


Allen Iverson

How does a guy who earned over $150 million in his NBA career end up broke? Well, ringing up almost $900,000 in jewelry bills surely contributed.

Iverson's financial woes came to light when he was recently ordered by a judge to pay a jeweler $860,000, and he didn't have the funds to do so. In other words, he was spending more on jewelry than a lot of people will make in their lifetime.

But like many other pro athletes, "The Answer" was prone to spending excessively. This obviously included jewelry, but he was also known to carry around a personal entourage of up to 50 people. (I don't care how much you're earning, that ain't cheap!) And I haven't even mentioned the personal stylist...

Mike Tyson

In his prime, no one was better in the boxing ring than Mike Tyson. Outside of the ring, it seems that no was better than Iron Mike at spending. Despite a prolific boxing career that earned him a mind-boggling $300-$400 million, Mike Tyson is now a cautionary tale for pro athletes everywhere.

His financial downfall, however, should have come as no surprise to anyone - even people as remote from him as you and I. He spent lavishly and foolishly on mansions, cars, jewelry, etc. (He purportedly spent $2.4 million on a bathtub once.) And don't forget the exotic pets, like tigers. (Who the @#$% needs a tiger??? Honestly!) But he he always was - and likely always will be - an enigma, a true human spectacle.

(Poster available at


Statistics show that more than 60% of all NBA players go broke within 5 years after retiring. That number is 78% for football players after leaving the NFL. No matter whether you're a fan or not, it's painful to see this happening to people - like watching lottery winners blow a fortune within a year or two. I guess when you're in your prime, it feels like the good times - and the money - will last forever. Unfortunately, few things last forever; certainly not your "prime" - and definitely not the money, unless you take care of it.

(And if you're curious as to what to do with a windfall - like being drafted into pro sports - please see my hub on What To Do After You Win The Lottery, as well as How Pro Athletes Should Invest Their Money. Finally, for those who don't want to leave without a little sports controversy, please visit my hub on The Greatest Basketball Player Ever: Wilt Chamberlain.)

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