Professional athletes spend countless hours training to reach the level it takes to become elite in their field. Once that goal is attained, most of them experience a rapid increase in personal wealth and disposable income. When their extraordinary personal spending habits become topics for the media, they often become a target for scrutiny. This is what happened to this list of spenders who are a common sight in the gym or on the sports fields.
It comes as no surprise that Manchester United soccer player David Beckham likes to be seen looking good. As fashion entrepreneurs, both he and his wife, Victoria, have lines of clothing and fragrances and are spokespeople for the industries. Dubbed a ‘metrosexual’ many times over, Beckham spends a large portion of his income on keeping up his family’s appearance. Even his four children grew up with expensive tastes and two of his sons, Brooklyn and Romeo, have modeled. When his only daughter, Harper, was born in 2011, he was spotted shopping for his infant at the high-end California baby shop, Bel Bambini, where he spent seven hundred dollars, including ninety-four dollars on shoes, 132 dollars for pajamas, and forty-six dollars on leggings.
Victoria, a British Fashion Award winner, experienced a loss of £3.8 million from her clothing line, aptly named Victoria Beckham, which is sold in her Mayfair store in London. David transferred £5.2 million to her business account, an act called discounted operations, and “mov(ed) the profits between themselves.”
Besides his earnings on the soccer pitch, Beckham has a lifetime endorsement contract with Adidas worth 160 million dollars. In the past, he has also been paid for promoting Pepsi, Armani, Breitling, H&M, Diet Coke, Burger King, Samsung, and Walt Disney theme parks. Lloyd’s of London insured his legs for £100 million in 2006.
Tiger Woods is the highest paid professional golfer on and off the course, according to Golf Digest, but he is also a big spender. Earning a total of 1.4 billion dollars in his twenty-year career, he has a net worth of 700 million dollars and is listed twenty-six on Forbes’ 2015 list of the richest top forty under forty entrepreneurs.
Despite the expensive divorce settlement with ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, setting Woods back 110 million dollars, his spending habits continued. He purchased a 155-foot long yacht, Privacy, valued at twenty million dollars, but reports say it is now up for sale. After the scandal revealed he was unfaithful to Elin, Woods sold his home for 2.2 million dollars, then built one from the ground up for fifty-five million dollars.
In 2008, Woods purchased a G5 jet worth sixty-four million dollars. For all he spends, Woods does donate a significant portion of his earnings and raises funds for charities. The Tiger Woods Foundation was established in 1996 to help at-risk youth appreciate the sport of golf. Tournaments, concerts, and the Tiger Jam are all held annually to benefit the foundation.
Famed boxer, Mike Tyson has a reputation of spending and losing money. His million-dollar buying habits include the purchase of exotic animals, more than one hundred vehicles, and possibly the most bizarre use of money, a two-million-dollar bathtub. He gifted his now ex-wife Robin Givens with the twenty-four karat solid gold tub for Christmas in 1988.
At one time, Tyson also owned three endangered Bengal tigers, for which he paid seventy thousand dollars each. Feeding the cats set Tyson back 1,500 dollars per day and he spent 125,000 dollars per year to hire a caretaker. He is also known for his recognizable Maori tattoo, which surrounds the side of his eye from his forehead to cheek, and cost between two and three hundred dollars. Tyson later sold the tigers to a buyer in Indiana, but the United States Department of Agriculture seized them in 2010. Bills from his homes, cars, and other fortunes has Tyson in debt to the government, reportedly for millions in back taxes.
Tyson was already a household name but became more so after making headlines for biting part of opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear off in a 1997 World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight championship boxing match. The incident led to a three-million-dollar fine and other legal expenses. He filed bankruptcy in 2003 after his nine-million-dollar divorce settlement.
Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman has an extreme passion for heavy metal music. So much so that his collection adds up to a whopping 8.7 million dollars and takes up two-thirds of his Malibu mansion, resembling a multi-room record store. Entire rooms in the home are earmarked for specific genres and decorated with photos and replicas of famous metal artists.
Although he reportedly willingly spent 1.3 million dollars per month in three years on coveted box sets and albums, sources also claim he may have been conned into spending tens of thousands of dollars on items penned with unauthentic autographs. Rodman has also owned expensive cars, including a Lamborghini, Porsche, and Hummer. It is reported he failed to provide child support payments adding up to 800 thousand dollars.
Rodman’s professional basketball career started in 1986 with the Detroit Pistons, and by 1991 he became known as the best rebounder in NBA history. In his career, he played a total of 911 games and had 11,954 rebounds. Besides being known for his skills on the court, he was recognized for often changing his appearance with various hair colors, piercings, and tattoos.
Rodman faced bankruptcy when he was in debt of more than 860 thousand dollars to his third ex-wife in 2012. In 1999, he bailed himself out of jail for 2,500 dollars after he and ex-wife Carmen Electra were locked up on a domestic disturbance charge. The next month, he was charged two thousand dollars for driving while impaired and without a license. He was fined again for drunk driving in 2004, this time for one thousand dollars.
John Daly’s gambling addiction put a dent in his bank account, and the numbers came to him as a surprise. His habit, from 1991 to 2007, cost the former Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) champion about fifty-five million dollars. After crunching numbers from his tax returns, he realized his gambling wins totaled thirty-five million dollars, but his losses came in at ninety million.
He said he was unaware of how much he had thrown away. “We went through all my tax records to find out, because I really didn’t know, and it just came to that,” he said. “I was shocked. I thought it might have been twenty to twenty-five million dollars, but I had no idea that it was fifty-five to fifty-seven million. It’s crazy.”
Daly started golfing as a child and started earning large sums for his sport in college. He won 230 thousand dollars in his first PGA Championship in 1991. Tragedy struck when spectator Tom Weaver was hit with lightning and died. Daly donated thirty thousand dollars of his winnings to Weaver’s two young daughters. His golf career includes twenty professional wins and the 1995 Open Championship.
Apart from golf, Daly is a partner in a line of clothing, Loudmouth Golf. The firm also licenses merchandise for the Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas Razorbacks of the National Football League. Daly wore the flashy pants during the 2009 European tour, but they were banned from the PGA Tour. His own company, JD Designs, specializes in golf course design.
Curt Schilling, a former professional baseball player, dreamed of living his retirement years off his love of video games. Unfortunately, it was a failed attempt. Schilling launched 38 Studios in 2007 with the help of a seventy-five million dollar loan from the Rhode Island Board of Economic Development. He hoped it would be the greatest video game company worldwide, but ended in a huge loss.
The company hired 379 employees who were kept on the payroll during hard times, but near the end, were bilked out of cash and were not informed they were no longer covered by health insurance. Three months after creating only one game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the company folded with a looming debt of up to 110 million dollars.
Schilling’s interest in gaming led him to a passion for Advanced Squad Leader, and in 1993, he created and funded the ASL Open. He joined Multi-Man Publishing, which took over ownership, and he went on to form Green Monster Games, later renamed 38 Studios. He admitted responsibility for the company’s failure, but said his team displayed significant dysfunction.
Schilling retired as the National Baseball League’s Boston Red Sox pitcher in 2009 after suffering a shoulder injury in his final season. As an award-winning pitcher, he helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and 2007 and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. Inducted in the three-thousand-strikeout club, he tops all members’ strikeout-to-walk ratio.
American professional golfer Phil Mickelson and his family like to live in style. After purchasing a second home in posh Rancho Santa Fe, he and wife, Amy listed their 4.55-acre estate for sale. It was let sold at a hefty 5.7 million dollars, less than their asking price of 12.226 million. They paid 5.9 million in 2001 for the 9,176 square-foot home.
In 2013, Mickelson wanted to be sure he could attend his daughter’s middle school graduation but make it back to the US Open on time, so he commuted in his own Gulfstream V. He took the jet, valued at about forty million dollars, to California for the grad, and that night, returned to Merion Golf Course in Pennsylvania, where he led the tournament.
Mickelson’s professional golf career began in 1992. He had a successful early start when in 2000, he took opponent Tiger Woods’ winning streak away by winning the Buick Invitational. "I didn't want to be the bad guy. I wasn't trying to end the streak per se. I was just trying to win the golf tournament,” he said.
As of 2015, Mickelson takes home an annual income of about fifty-one million dollars according to Forbes, but the greatest influx is from endorsements rather than prize money gained on the golf course. Big money companies on his current promotional list include KPMG, ExxonMobil, Rolex, Barclays, and Callaway Golf. His diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis led to another endorsement of a popular treatment drug.
Famed National Basketball Association player Allen Iverson’s sports career was one that took his team on extensive travel. Unlike his teammates who carried luggage, he took a different route. Sources say Iverson did not like packing or dealing with luggage when traveling, so he bought all new clothing while on the road. This habit, as well as other issues, led to his bankruptcy.
Iverson was known to patron expensive shops in each city when on away games with his team, the Philadelphia 76ers. He would pick up everything he needed for the night and either leave it all in the hotel room or give it away before leaving the city. All of this added up to more than 200 million dollars in spending and a downward spiral of personal issues.
As a youth, Iverson spent four months in a correctional center after avoiding a fifteen-year prison sentence for maiming by a mob. He got his break in basketball when the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him for the 1996 season. He played for the Denver Nuggets, and was fined twenty-five thousand dollars for confronting a referee. Then he went to Detroit, Memphis, and returned to the Sixers until 2011.
Iverson was involved in illegal activities since 1997. He was arrested for possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed weapon and was sued for assault twice. He started to "either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.” When his ex-wife, Tawanna sought child support and alimony at their divorce proceeding in 2012, he told her, “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger!”
While some sports stars spend their millions on seemingly frivolous purchases, others put it to charitable use. That is what Major League Baseball (MLB) player Nelson Cruz did in 2012. Cruz grew up in the poverty-stricken Dominican Republic and its city, Las Matas Santa Cruz, which was without basic fire protection. He donated twenty thousand dollars to help purchase a fire truck.
Cruz was concerned about safety and knew individuals were dying because fires could not be attended to quickly enough. The truck was yellow, so Cruz also paid to have it painted red and added two ambulances to the town’s emergency vehicle roster. “I am always seeking ways to give back to the community in which I was raised,” Cruz said.
Cruz is currently the Seattle Mariners’ right fielder and designated hitter. His MLB career started with the New York Mets, signing on as a non-drafted free agent before being traded to the Oakland Athletics, where he played until 2004. He spent the next two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, eight with the Texas Rangers, and one with the Baltimore Orioles.
Highlights of his career include being named MLB All-Star four times (2009, 2013, 2014, and 2015), and Most Valuable Player in 2011. He was the League’s home run leader in 2014 and was presented with the Silver Slugger Award in 2015. Controversy ensued when he was involved in the 2013 drug scandal surrounding Biogenesis of America, and he was suspended for fifty games.
National Basketball League (NBA) star Chris Singleton wanted to win a 640 million dollar jackpot, so he increased his odds by spending ten thousand dollars on tickets for the draw in his rookie year. He Tweeted his fans, “I’m about to drop ten thousand dollars on the lottery and cross my fingers.” Had he won, he would have received 1.5 million dollars per year.
Singleton was twenty-two years old at the time and playing for the Washington Wizards. He said although he did win a nominal amount of money from the five thousand tickets, he was not the lucky winner of the big windfall. He also said he did not regret spending the money, as "[It was either] that or blow it in the club."
After three seasons in Washington, the Indiana Pacers signed Singleton in September 2014, but by October of that year was waived and signed with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Jiangsu Dragons. He played seventeen games in China before returning to the NBA for its Development League with Oklahoma City Blue. In 2015, he went overseas to join the Russian team, Lokomotiv Kuban.
Singleton played for Anhui in the Chinese NBL in 2016, averaging 24.3 points per game and eleven rebounds per game. In June of that year, the team was ranked second in the league. Singleton led with the best performance in a game on June 13 during the seventh round, contributing an impressive forty-four points and seventeen rebounds. Anhui beat ninth-ranked Hualan 116-99.
Chad Ochocinco is a sports star who owns one of the most expensive beds. He purchased two massive fish tanks from Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, one of which acts as the headboard for his bed and is listed at an incredible 489 thousand dollars. The other aquarium provides a backdrop for three large flat-screen television sets in his living room.
The two aquariums he purchased was a profitable order for Wayde King and Brett Raymer, owners of the company that creates massive tanks for casinos, public aquariums, and businesses and have celebrities Steven Spielberg and Dr. Dre on their client list. The two also partner on their own show, Tanked, on Animal Planet.
Ochocinco started his professional football career when he was drafted by the National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals in 2001. He played there until moving to the New England Patriots for the 2011 season and played in that year’s Super Bowl. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins, but after an arrest on domestic violence charges, moved to the Montreal Alouettes.
Outside of football, Ochocinco appeared on the small screen as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2010 and was partnered with Cheryl Burke, a two-time winner on the show. The same year, he hosted a talk show on Versus with teammate Terrell Owens, guest-hosted WWE Raw and had a dating show, Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch. In 2011, he played himself in American Reunion.
Basketball player Deshawn Stevenson has a lot of cash, and he has it readily available at the push of a button. He purchased his own Automated Teller Machine for 3,500 dollars and installed it in his kitchen. It holds twenty thousand dollars and is also an income generator, charging 4.50 dollars for each transaction. Stevenson said he bought it because, “I like doing things that aren’t normal and it’s cool to have.”
Stevenson intended to stick to college basketball when he signed with the Kansas Jayhawks, especially since his head coach referred to him as his most gifted recruit ever. He decided to join the National Basketball Association when he was recruited by the Utah Jazz in 2000, and at nineteen years old, was the team’s youngest player. He placed second in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Orlando Magic picked him up in 2004, where he had his best season, scoring an average of eleven points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game and two assists per game in 2005-06. By the end of that season, Stevenson signed up for two years with the Washington Wizards for the minimum NBA salary, which was later increased to fifteen million dollars for a four-year contract.
In 2010, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Stevenson, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. His earnings increased when he made 4.15 million dollars that season by using his player option. In 2011, Stevenson ended his career with a 2.5 million dollar contract for one year with the New Jersey Mets.