Professional Athletes Who Went Broke

The high rate of athletes going broke is alarming. Professional athletes are some of the highest-paid professionals in the world. Their job comes with great fame and recognition. While professional athletes are highly paid, many of them often go broke within a short while. Some of the reasons why professional athletes go broke are the fact that they have a short career, family issues among other issues. 

We are going to look at some of the professional athletes that went broke and the reasons for their bankruptcy.

How Many Professional Athletes Go Broke?

It is estimated that about 60% of athletes go broke within five years after retirement. Statistics show that National Football League (NFL) players are at a higher risk; 78% of going broke, followed by National Basketball Association (NBA) players at 60%. 

Athletes that Have Gone Broke

The following is a list of professional athletes that have gone broke.

1. Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is one of the famous athletes that went broke. He had won multiple championships and made lots of money in boxing. Among the reasons why he went broke are drug and alcohol abuse, multiple women, and a lavish lifestyle. He has had children with different women.

In 2003, he made an announcement that he was broke and did not have any money in the bank. He however stated that he had been given a second chance in life by a woman he married and has sired a child with.

2. Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona is also one of the greatest soccer players and athletes gone broke. He comes from Argentina and has played in four world cups. He earned a lot from playing soccer and could afford the best life. However, in 2009, the Italian Tax Authority claimed that he was not paying taxes. The taxman demanded that he pays $54 million, a move that made him bankrupt and pushed him to go broke.

3. Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman was an NBA player that was at the peak of his career before he went broke. He is well known for the time he was playing for Chicago Bulls. He was making $27 million in earnings and had won five NBA titles. He is one of the most generous athletes of his time.

However, he went broke due to his serious problem with drinking. In 2012, he told the court that he could not afford anymore to pay $50,000 monthly child support he had been paying.

4. Allen Iverson

Did Allen Iverson go broke? Yes. Allen Iverson was one of the best NBA players who went broke. He was one of the league’s MVPs and the highest-earning basketball player. Iverson's financial crisis began in 2010 when his wife filed for divorce after 8 years of marriage. Iverson got into debt which he couldn’t pay. Another reason why he went broke is due to the high expenses he incurred in buying clothes while traveling to avoid carrying luggage.

5. Michael Vick

Michael Vick was one of the highest-earning NFL players earning $25.4 million annually. He surpassed $100 million in earnings after playing 13 seasons in NFL. He was receiving endorsements from Coca-Cola, Nike, Kraft, AirTran, and Rawlings. He had spent 18 months in prison for charges related to illegal dog fighting rings within his properties. He later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. He is among the NFL players broke after retirement.

6. Sheryl Swoopes

Sheryl Swoopes had estimated earnings of $50 million during her NBA professional career. She was among the highest-paid NBA players. She played for WNBA and had won Olympic medals. Although she was earning a lot, she lost her fortune due to bad investments, and overspending. At some point, she was forced to sell her Olympic medal to pay off her debts.

7. O.J Simpson

O.J Simpson is among pro athletes who went broke. He was a famous NFL player. He retired from his NFL career and proceeded to start a career in acting where he featured in films like “The Naked Gun.” His life changed after he was accused of murdering his wife.

He was acquitted of all charges but his reputation had already been damaged. Two years later, the jury stated that he was guilty of murder charges. He was later sentenced to trying to steal in a hotel in Las Vegas and prisoned for 9 years and released in 2017.

8. Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn played for the San Diego Padres for 20 seasons. He was among the best and highest paid players. However, in 1987, he filed for bankruptcy with liabilities amounting to $1.1 million and assets worth $690,000. The main reason for his financial crisis is bad financial advice. Tony Gwynn succumbed to cancer in 2001 with a $2.5 million debt.

9. Lenny Dykstra

Lenny Dykstra was a baseball player that played for the Mets. In 2008, he was worth $58 million a year before he went broke. In 2009, he filed for bankruptcy stating that he had assets worth $50,000 and $10 worth of liabilities. He went broke and also spent 6.5 months in jail for the concealment of assets and money laundering.

Also read: Why do professional athletes go broke?

10. Darren McCarty

Darren McCarty was a hockey ice player. His professional career lasted for 17 years. Although hockey ice players do not make as much money as players in other professions, he was earning well.

He made $15 million from salary and endorsements throughout her career. However, he went into a financial crisis due to drug addiction and gambling. In 2006, he filed for bankruptcy citing liabilities worth $6 million.

Summary of Professional Athletes That Went Broke

The above is a list of professional athletes who went broke after making millions in their careers. Although a majority of professional athletes make millions in their careers, most of them end up broke. Some of the reasons that make professional athletes go broke include short career life, poor financial advice, family problems, poor financial management, and lifestyle debt.

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This article was updated on January 10, 2023

Vincent Nyoike

Vincent Nyoike is an experienced business consultant and financial analyst. He is a CPA and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Finance and Accounting at JKUAT. He holds a B.Sc. in Applied Statistics from the University of Eldoret