Once Wealthy Professional Athletes: A List of 20 Athletes Who Lost Fortunes


Professional athletes are often seen as the epitome of success and prosperity. They are admired and celebrated for their physical skills, talent, hard work, and of course, wealth. However, the reality is that not all athletes manage to stay on top of the financial game. Many of them have risen to great heights of wealth and fame, only to experience a sudden and drastic fall from grace. The reasons for their financial struggles are varied, and sometimes complex, but they all share a common story of success, excess, and loss. In this post, we will explore how 20 athletes lost fortunes.

20 Professional Athletes Who Lost Fortunes

  1. Mike Tyson – Once the undisputed heavyweight champion and one of the highest-paid athletes in history, Tyson lost his fortune due to a combination of extravagant spending, legal troubles, and mismanagement of his finances. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003, with debts estimated at around $23 million.
  2. Allen Iverson – A legendary NBA player and cultural icon, Iverson also suffered from lavish spending, multiple legal battles, and lack of financial discipline. He famously said he didn’t know what a mortgage was, and blew through his $154 million earnings in a series of bad investments and personal troubles
  3. Diego Maradona – Widely regarded as one of the best football players of all time, Maradona also had a fondness for luxury cars, expensive jewelry, and partying. His drug addiction and tax evasion issues also contributed to his financial woes, and he died in 2020 with a net worth of only $100,000.
  4. Boris Becker – The German tennis star won six Grand Slam titles and earned more than $25 million in his career, but he spent it all and then some. Becker faced bankruptcy in 2017 after a series of legal battles, and was forced to auction off his trophies to pay off his creditors.
  5. Evander Holyfield – The four-time heavyweight champion of the world enjoyed a lavish lifestyle that included a 109-room mansion, a 17-car garage, and exotic pets. However, he also had a habit of overspending and supporting a large extended family, which left him in debt and facing foreclosure on his estate.
  6. Lenny Dykstra – A former MLB outfielder and World Series champion, Dykstra fell from grace after a series of legal and financial troubles, including bankruptcy, fraud, and grand theft auto. He served time in prison and lost most of his assets, including his car wash business and his mansion.
  7. Antoine Walker – The NBA All-Star and champion made considerable money during his playing days, but also spent extravagantly on mansions, cars, and jewelry. He filed for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of $12.7 million and has struggled to regain his financial footing since then.
  8. Curt Schilling – A three-time World Series winner and former baseball analyst, Schilling invested heavily in failed businesses and video game ventures. His company, 38 Studios, went bankrupt in 2012, leaving him with debts of $50 million and a tarnished reputation.
  9. Vince Young – The former NFL quarterback had a promising career ahead of him, but also succumbed to financial mismanagement and poor investments. He filed for bankruptcy in 2014, with debts of $50 million, including a $1.9 million loan for his own birthday party.
  10. Marion Jones – The track and field star won multiple Olympic gold medals, but her career was cut short by a doping scandal and perjury charges. She also had to forfeit her earnings and assets, and filed for bankruptcy in 2007 with debts of $2.5 million.
  11. Jose Canseco – The former MLB player and steroid advocate made substantial money from his playing days and books, but he also purportedly wasted a lot of it on cars, women, and legal fees. He filed for bankruptcy twice, in 2012 and 2014, with debts of up to $8 million.
  12. Sheryl Swoopes – The WNBA legend and Olympian enjoyed a long and successful career, but also struggled with financial issues, including debts, liens, and foreclosure. She filed for bankruptcy in 2016, with debts of $685,000.
  13. Terrell Owens – The NFL wide receiver was known for his flashy style and extravagant lifestyle, but he also had a habit of spending more than he earned and getting into legal trouble. He lost most of his fortune in bad investments and gambling debts, and declared bankruptcy in 2012, with assets of only $100.
  14. Scottie Pippen – Like many wealthy NBA players, the NBA Hall of Famer and six-time champion earned substantial money during his career. But he also faced multiple lawsuits, including a failed investment in a private jet company. He filed for bankruptcy in 2016, with debts of $50 million.
  15. Chris McAlister – The former NFL cornerback enjoyed a lucrative career, but also faced numerous financial problems, including a divorce settlement, unpaid taxes, and lawsuits. He declared bankruptcy in 2013, with debts of $4.1 million.
  16. Brian Bosworth – The former NFL linebacker and media personality had a short and injury-prone career, but also invested heavily in questionable ventures and entertainment projects. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009, with debts of $14.4 million.
  17. Johnny Unitas – The iconic NFL quarterback and Hall of Famer struggled financially in his later years due to a failed business deal and family disputes. He passed away in 2002, with debts of $4 million and a legacy that transcended money.
  18. Warren Sapp – The NFL defensive tackle and Super Bowl champion suffered from overspending, gambling, and legal battles, including tax evasion and assault charges. He declared bankruptcy in 2012, with debts of $6.7 million.
  19. Mark Brunell – The former NFL quarterback enjoyed a long and productive career, but also invested heavily in a risky real estate project that backfired, leaving him with debts of more than $25 million. He has since declared bankruptcy and worked to pay off his creditors.
  20. Lawrence Taylor – The NFL linebacker and Hall of Famer was a dominant force on the field, but also battled addiction and legal troubles, including drug possession and tax evasion. He filed for bankruptcy in 1998, with debts of $6.5 million.


In conclusion, the public stories of these 20 professional athletes who lost fortunes serve as a cautionary tale for everyone, not just those in sports or entertainment. They show that money can come and go, and that fame and glory do not necessarily guarantee financial stability or happiness. Each athlete had his or her own reasons for falling from grace, but some of the common pitfalls included overspending, lack of financial discipline, poor investments, legal battles, and personal issues. By learning from their mistakes and adopting sound financial habits, we can avoid or mitigate the risks of wealth and success, and enjoy a more sustainable and fulfilling life.

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