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The Highs and Lows of Professional Athletes’ Financial Gain

Professional Athletes Going Broke: The Highs and Lows of Financial Gain

Professional athletes are often looked up to as successful individuals who have made it to the top of their game. They earn staggering amounts of money, receive lucrative endorsement deals, and live a life of luxury that most people can only dream of.

However, despite the seemingly foolproof financial security that comes with being a pro athlete, many of these individuals end up bankrupt.

The High Paychecks Leading to Financial Troubles

The high paychecks of professional athletes, combined with a general lack of financial literacy, can lead to severe financial stress. Many athletes do not receive adequate education on how to manage their money, which leaves them vulnerable to making poor financial decisions.

The temptation to spend lavishly on extravagant homes, luxury cars, and expensive vacations can quickly deplete their bank accounts. Some athletes have reported spending millions on items that have little to no value, such as jewelry and clothing.

These impulsive purchases, combined with the lack of financial management skills, can lead to a downward spiral of debt and eventual bankruptcy.

Examples of Athletes Losing Money and How

The list of athletes who have lost significant amounts of money after retiring from their sports careers is extensive. For example, Lance Briggs, former NFL linebacker, purchased a $2.3 million mansion that he could not afford to keep.

The home went into foreclosure, and Briggs was responsible for over $3 million in debt. Clinton Portis, former NFL running back, invested in several failed ventures, including a casino, a bourbon company, and a real estate venture in Puerto Rico.

Portis filed for bankruptcy in 2015, with debts of over $4.85 million. Michael Vick, former NFL quarterback, lost a significant amount of money due to his involvement in a dogfighting scandal.

In 2008, Vick filed for bankruptcy with debts of over $20 million. Johnny Unitas, former NFL quarterback, declared bankruptcy in 1991 after his business ventures failed, leaving him with debts of over $1.4 million.

Jack Clark, former MLB player, invested in several questionable business ventures that eventually led to his financial ruin. In 1992, Clark filed for bankruptcy with debts of over $11 million.

Bryan Trottier, former NHL player, lost millions of dollars in a failed investment deal in the Bahamas in the early 2000s. Trottier filed for bankruptcy in 2005 with debts of over $9.55 million.

Evander Holyfield, former heavyweight boxing champion, earned over $250 million throughout his career but declared bankruptcy in 2008, with debts of over $14 million. Luther Elliss, former NFL defensive tackle, invested in a cattle ranch that failed, leaving him with debts of over $11 million.

Dan Marino, former NFL quarterback, invested in several unsuccessful business ventures and real estate deals, eventually leading to him being sued for unpaid debts in 2009. Bernie Kosar, former NFL quarterback, invested in several real estate deals that failed, leading to his bankruptcy in 2009 with debts of over $18 million.

Floyd Mayweather, former professional boxer, who earned over $1 billion throughout his career, filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of over $22 million. Vince Young, former NFL quarterback, lost millions of dollars in poor investment decisions and was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy in 2014 with debts of over $14 million.

Jack Johnson, former professional boxer, earned over $100,000 per fight in the early 1900s. However, due to poor financial decisions, Johnson filed for bankruptcy in 1923 with debts of over $12,000.

Warren Sapp, former NFL defensive lineman, filed for bankruptcy in 2012 with debts of over $6.7 million after making several poor financial investments. Mark Brunell, former NFL quarterback, invested in several failed business ventures and was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of over $25 million.

John Daly, former professional golfer, earned millions throughout his career but was left with debts of over $7 million due to gambling addiction and poor financial management. Curt Schilling, former MLB pitcher, invested in a failed video game venture, causing him to file for bankruptcy in 2012 with debts of over $150 million.

Sheryl Swoopes, former WNBA player, filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with debts of over $884,000 after a failed endorsement deal and a costly divorce. Lawrence Taylor, former NFL linebacker, filed for bankruptcy in 1998 due to unpaid back taxes.

Dermontti Dawson, former NFL center, was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010 after investing in a real estate project that failed. Terrell Owens, former NFL receiver, lost millions of dollars in poor financial decisions, including an endorsement deal with a failed sportswear company.

Owens filed for bankruptcy in 2012 with debts of over $4.5 million. Tiger Woods, former professional golfer, faced a costly divorce in 2010 that left him with debts of over $100 million.

Antoine Walker, former NBA player, lost millions of dollars in real estate deals and poor investments, leading him to file for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of over $12.7 million. Allen Iverson, former NBA player, lost millions of dollars in lavish spending and unpaid debts, forcing him to file for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of over $20 million.


The long list of professional athletes who have filed for bankruptcy highlights the importance of financial literacy. The temptation to spend money on extravagant items may be great, but without proper education on how to manage their wealth, athletes can quickly find themselves in debt and with no financial security.

Learning about personal finance and developing sound investment strategies can help athletes secure their financial futures and prevent the devastating consequences of bankruptcy. Clinton Portis’ Bad Financial Advice: A Cautionary Tale

Clinton Portis, a retired NFL running back, made a fortune during his football career, earning over $43 million throughout his time in the league.

However, after his retirement in 2012, Portis found himself in financial trouble and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2015. The source of his financial downfall was not just his own frivolous spending, but also the influence of his financial advisor.

Portis’ High-Paying NFL Contract

During his career, Portis signed a high-paying contract with the Washington Redskins, which included a $17 million bonus. The large sum of money, combined with Portis’ limited knowledge of financial management, led to reckless spending.

Portis’ lavish lifestyle during his playing days included buying multiple cars and homes, as well as spending thousands of dollars on vacations and his entourage. Financial Advisor’s Role in Portis’ Loss

In a 2015 Sports Illustrated article, it was revealed that Portis’ financial advisor, Jeff Rubin, was a key contributor to his financial troubles.

In 2012, Rubin was sentenced to six years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme that targeted professional athletes, including Portis. Rubin convinced Portis to invest in various ventures, including an Alabama casino project that ultimately failed.

Portis also invested in a financial services company managed by Rubin. The company ultimately went bankrupt, and Portis lost over $3 million in the process.

Rubin’s manipulation of Portis’ trust played a significant role in his financial downfall. The former running back trusted Rubin’s advice, which ultimately cost him millions of dollars.

Michael Vick’s Illegal Activities Leading to Loss

Michael Vick, former NFL quarterback, faced significant financial losses due to his involvement in the illegal activity of dogfighting. In 2007, Vick was indicted on charges of running a dogfighting ring and was subsequently suspended from the NFL.

In 2008, Vick pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison. Vick’s Involvement in Dogfighting

The details of Vick’s involvement in dogfighting are shocking.

He used his own property in Virginia to host dogfighting events and was directly involved in the brutal mistreatment of the dogs. The investigation also revealed financial transactions related to the illegal activity, which Vick pled guilty to, further adding to his legal and financial woes.

Recovery and Paying Back Debt

After his release from prison in 2009, Vick faced a challenging road to recovery both professionally and financially. He had lost millions of dollars in endorsement deals and had to declare bankruptcy in 2008.

However, Vick was determined to turn his life around. He returned to the NFL in 2009 and went on to have a successful career with several NFL teams.

Determined to pay back his creditors, Vick filed a plan to pay back over $20 million in debt. He also worked with various animal welfare groups to raise awareness about dogfighting and became a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States.

Vick’s story is one of redemption and highlights the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions and making a commitment to change. While his involvement in illegal activities cost him a significant amount of money, he was able to rebuild his life and make amends.


The stories of Clinton Portis and Michael Vick serve as cautionary tales about the importance of financial literacy and making responsible decisions. Portis’ reliance on a manipulative financial advisor led to his financial ruin, while Vick’s illegal activities cost him millions of dollars and his reputation.

Both athletes faced significant financial losses, but their stories also show that it is possible to rebuild and learn from past mistakes. By taking responsibility for their actions and making a commitment to change, Portis and Vick were able to move forward and work towards a better future.

Examples of Athletes Making Bad Investments: The Consequences of Poor Financial Management

Professional athletes often receive large sums of money throughout their careers, giving them the means to invest and potentially grow their wealth. However, the pressure of making wise investment decisions can lead to poor choices and substantial financial loss.

Here are a few examples of athletes who made bad investments. Johnny Unitas’ Unsuccessful Investment

Legendary NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas invested over $500,000 in a circuit board company in the late 1980s.

Despite his efforts to save the company, it ultimately went bankrupt in 1991, leaving Unitas with a significant financial loss. Unitas’ investment highlights the importance of thoroughly researching and understanding the risks involved in any investment opportunity.

Blindly investing in a company without proper due diligence can lead to substantial financial loss. Jack Clark’s Debt from Car Purchases

Former MLB player Jack Clark found himself in debt early in his career due to his love for luxury cars.

Clark accumulated debt from purchasing multiple high-end vehicles, including a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. His extravagant spending, combined with poor financial management, led to financial trouble, including filing for bankruptcy in the late 1990s.

Clark’s experience serves as a reminder of the importance of living within one’s means and making smart financial decisions. Bryan Trottier’s Failed Business

NHL Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier invested in his ice-rink business, BT Skating Corp., which aimed to build and operate ice rinks throughout North America.

Trottier’s involvement in the business began after he retired from professional hockey, following a successful career that included winning six Stanley Cup championships. However, the business did not take off as planned, resulting in Trottier filing for bankruptcy in 2005 with debts of over $9.55 million.

The debt primarily came from loans owed to investors who had backed the business.

Debt Owed to Investors

When a business fails, investors expect to recover their investment, but if the business owes more money than it has the ability to pay, investors can face significant losses. This was the case with Trottier’s ice-rink business, leading to debt owed to investors.

Trottier’s bankruptcy serves as a reminder of the importance of sound financial management, both in personal finances and business ventures.


The stories of Johnny Unitas, Jack Clark, and Bryan Trottier illustrate the importance of sound financial management, particularly when it comes to investing. Blindly investing without proper due diligence and living beyond one’s means can lead to significant financial loss.

These examples also highlight the importance of recognizing the risks involved in business ventures and taking steps to mitigate them. When investing, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and seek expert advice when necessary.

Ultimately, professional athletes must understand that their financial success is not solely based on their paychecks. Good financial management and making wise investment decisions are equally important, and failure to do so can result in financial ruin.

The Loss of Evander Holyfield’s Mansion: A Look at the High Cost of Luxury

Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was once known for his prowess in the ring and for his luxurious lifestyle. However, his extravagant spending, combined with poor financial management, led to significant financial trouble in the early 2010s.

One of the most significant losses came in the form of his mansion, a sprawling estate outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Holyfield’s $10 Million Mega-Mansion

In the late 1990s, Holyfield purchased a 54,000 square-foot mansion in suburban Atlanta for an estimated $10 million.

The sprawling estate boasted amenities such as an Olympic-sized pool, a bowling alley, a movie theater, multiple guest houses, and even a chapel. Despite earning millions throughout his career, Holyfield’s lavish lifestyle and overspending meant that he was often in debt.

In addition to the mansion, the former champion also owned multiple other homes, luxury cars, and owned a collection of exotic animals.

Repossession and Sale of Property

In 2012, Holyfield faced significant financial trouble and was forced to sell his beloved mansion at a huge loss. Bank repossession led to the public auction of the estate, which sold for just $7.5 million, over $2 million less than the original purchase price.

The loss highlights the high cost of living beyond one’s means and the potential consequences of poor financial decisions. The mansion was a symbol of Holyfield’s success in the ring, but it ultimately became a symbol of his downfall.

Factors Contributing to Luther Elliss’ Debt

Luther Elliss, former NFL defensive tackle, found himself in significant financial trouble following his retirement from the league in 2006. Elliss filed for bankruptcy in 2009, with over $5 million in debt.

Overspending and Poor Business Decisions

Elliss cited overspending and poor business decisions as the primary factors that led to his financial downfall. Despite earning nearly $21 million throughout his NFL career, Elliss fell into substantial debt due to poor investments in real estate and other ventures.

For example, Elliss invested in a now-defunct real estate project in Arizona that resulted in significant losses. The poor investments, combined with overspending on items such as luxury cars, led to mounting debt that ultimately led to his bankruptcy.

Elliss’ story serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of sound financial management, no matter one’s earning potential. Proper investment planning and responsible spending can help ensure long-term financial stability, while poor financial decisions can quickly lead to ruin.


The stories of Evander Holyfield and Luther Elliss illustrate the high cost of living a luxurious lifestyle without proper financial management. Overspending and poor business decisions can leave even the wealthiest individuals facing significant financial trouble.

Professional athletes, in particular, face unique financial challenges, including a short earning window and potentially high spending habits. However, with the right planning and financial management, they can avoid the pitfalls that come with a lavish lifestyle and ensure a financially stable future.

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