Athletes who are poorer than you thought

Becoming a professional athlete is like winning the lottery, twice. The first jackpot: sports people with world-class abilities get to focus their lives on a game, earning a place of prominence in their high school, getting into a college of their choice, and then moving on to the big leagues or the Olympics. (Okay, okay, so practice, dedication, and sacrifice has a lot to do with that narrative too.) Anyway, going pro also involves getting paid an obscene amount of money. That's when athletes hit the literal jackpot, often earning salaries in the $100 million-plus range, and that's not even counting the beaucoup bucks they earn appearing in sneaker or hot dog commercials. 

However, managing a fortune requires a skill set unto itself, and many athletes were too busy perfecting their sports to take any financial planning classes. Here are some world-class athletes that are much poorer than you thought.

T.O. needed a T.O.

Terrell Owens scored 156 touchdowns (only four wide receivers have ever scored more) over a 15-year career that included stops in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. Perhaps he changed teams so often because he was very hard to be around. In 2005 alone, Owens reportedly asked for a new contract, claiming the $7.5 million he'd earned the previous year wasn't enough to put food on the table; got into a fight with Eagles coach Andy Reid at training camp; dissed team quarterback Donovan McNabb to the press; and was subsequently suspended for most the season. Even then, Owens took home a sweet $80 million, which seems like more than enough to feed even the largest of families.

Or maybe T.O. has a much bigger family than previously reported: In 2012, GQ summed up his situation this way: "He's out of work, out of money, and currently in court with all four of his baby mamas. And now for the part that really depresses him: For the first time in his long, checkered, and spectacular career, nobody wants to throw him the ball."

Vin Baker will happily misspell your name

Basketball great Vin Baker was very much a journeyman player — he suited up for six teams in 13 seasons. He averaged 15 points per game over his career and was named to four all-star teams, but those accolades and big stats fizzled in the 2000s. While playing for the Boston Celtics, a coach smelled booze on Baker's breath. The team suspended him, prompting Baker to admit that he was a recovering alcoholic.

Nevertheless, Baker amassed around $100 million while playing professional basketball, including an $86 million contract he signed in 1997. According to the Providence Journal, the Celtics suspended him three times, then canceled the deal (about $36 million remained.) But Baker's financial headaches were just getting started. He also invested in a restaurant (Vinnie's Saybrook Fish House) that went out of business, lost a house, and sued his accountant for mismanagement of funds and breach of contract. 

But here's the awesome part: Baker mounted a successful comeback! According to the Providence Journal, he got a job at Starbucks and enrolled in the company's management training program. By 2015, he was well on his way to managing one of the chain's coffeehouses.

Game over, Curt Schilling

Over the course of a 20-year career in Major League Baseball, Curt Schilling made a lot of money – reportedly in the neighborhood of $115 million. It was all worth it to Red Sox fans: Schilling was instrumental in the team's historic "curse"-breaking 2004 World Series win. However, by the time he hung up his cleats (and his famous bloody socks) in 2009, Shilling had lost an alarming $50 million of his savings. What happened to the rest of it? 

He spent most of it on video games. Okay, so he didn't keep plugging quarters into an arcade game in the back of a pizza parlor. Schilling invested the vast majority of his fortune in a failed video game company called 38 Studios. (Schilling's jersey number was 38.) "My whole life was spent doing things that people didn't believe were possible, because God blessed me with the ability to throw a baseball. And I carried that same mentality into everything I did here," he told Boston magazine in 2012, after the company defaulted on $75 million worth of state loans. 

Schilling pushed back against claims that he'd squandered taxpayer money. "I have done whatever I can do to create jobs and create a successful business with my own income … everything I've saved, has been put back into the economy," he said (via ESPN). "And so how does that translate into welfare baby? I've tried to do right by people."

Marion Jones couldn't run from her lawyer bills

Track and field stars are generally not the most handsomely paid athletes — unless they're Olympic champions who perform so well on the international stage that they become household names and can command huge performance fees and endorsement deals. In other words, people like Marion Jones.

At the 2000 Summer Olympics, Jones won a remarkable five medals, including three gold, but just three years later, she was linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) — a company raided by the feds for allegedly distributing performance-enhancing drugs. According to CBS Sports, Jones racked up a lot of legal fees fighting the doping scandal. By 2006, the disgraced Olympian's finances were in dire straits. A bank foreclosed on her $2.5 million mansion, and she had to sell another home where her mother lived. By 2007, Jones claimed she had a bank balance of just $2,000. That same year, she pleaded guilty to lying about steroid use to federal investigators.

'The Answer' has a lot to answer for

Allen Iverson had a basketball career for the ages. When he closed up shop, the hall of famer concluded a run that earned him a rookie of the year crown, an MVP award, and four scoring titles. Alas, his talents did not extend to money management. 

According to Basketball Forever, Iverson amassed roughly $200 million during his career but blew through most of it. Apparently, his 50-man-strong entourage wasn't cheap to maintain, and he also made some bad investments. Instead of stocks or real estate, he reportedly put his money in garbage bags — like he literally put piles of cash in garbage bags at his house — and they somehow disappeared.

Iverson's money woes came to light when a jeweler sued him for an unpaid tab. According to TMZ, the baller claimed he couldn't pay the roughly $860,000 settlement because he had $360,000 in monthly expenses against a $62,500 monthly income. 

The silver lining: Iverson made at least one solid financial decision. Back in the day, he signed a lucrative contract with Reebok that would give him access to a $32 million trust fund when he turns 55 in 2030. Brilliant, right? Not so fast. Iverson almost blew that one, too. According to Complex, he had to forfeit the entire trust to his ex-wife for violating the terms of a postnuptial agreement, but she later agreed to share half of it with him, so yah, let's conclude this particular pity party and move on.

No net profits for Boris Becker

Boris Becker was one of the brightest stars in tennis, and he started early. The West German phenom turned pro in 1984, and just a year later, he won his first of three men's singles titles at Wimbledon … and he was only 17. By the time he retired from tennis in 1996, before the age of 30, Becker had won 49 singles and 15 doubles career titles.

The master of the one-on-one sport also liked to go one-on-one with beautiful ladies. He married actress and model Barbara Feltus in 1993 (and had two kids with her,) but he reportedly cheated on her with model Angela Ermakowa (and had a kid with her, too). The financial aspects of Becker's divorce and paternity predicaments cost him about $25 million, reported The Telegraph. He was then convicted of tax evasion and had to pay out another $3 million or so. Becker declared bankruptcy in 2017. He reportedly also declared: "It's crazy to think I'm broke."

Maybe Dennis Rodman can rebound from this

Before he inexplicably became BFFs with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Dennis Rodman was just a quirky, heavily-tattooed, referee-head-butting basketball player who dated (and nearly impregnated?) Madonna, married Carmen Electra, announced his intentions to marry himself, and dyed his hair bright colors long after he was probably too old to do that. Rodman is also one of the best defensive players in NBA history. The hall of famer sits at no. 23 on the all-time rebound leaders list, leading the league in rebounds per season every year from 1991 to 1997. 

Those stats, along with being an important part of five NBA championship teams, meant Rodman could command a huge salary. He reportedly peaked with a reported $9 million in the 1996-97 season, and in total, the NBA paid "The Worm" about $27 million for his efforts. That's like Powerball-level money, and now it's almost all gone. As of 2018, Rodman is reportedly down to his last $500,000.

'The Real Deal's' bad deal

Two of boxing's biggest heavyweight stars squared off in November 1996, when Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield scored a TKO over the heavily favored Mike "Iron Mike" Tyson in one of the most anticipated boxing matches ever. At a rematch just seven months later, Tyson was famously disqualified when he bit off a chunk of Holyfield's earTyson's troubles inside and outside the ring (bankruptcy, convicted of rape, domestic abuse) are well-documented, but not everyone realizes that Holyfield also sabotaged his own success.

Being the heavyweight champion of the world won the guy about $230 million, and he clearly had a lot of fun spending it. He dropped a reported $10 million on a 54,000-square-foot mansion on a 235-acre plot in Georgia. The place boasted 109 rooms, a bowling alley, movie theater, stables, and swimming pools. Holyfield claimed the place cost him $1 million a year just to maintain.

According to Redfin, Holyfield was more than $14 million in debt by 2012, when the bank bought his epic house off him for $7.5 million. Another cash drain for Holyfield: legal settlements and child support problems. According to a 2012 report in TMZ, the boxer owed one of his many kids more than $550,000 in court-ordered back child support.  

Not paying taxes? Not a Berry good idea

The 1986 New York Mets are one of the most memorable teams in the last few decades of baseball. That year, the squad rolled to a team-record 108 wins, led by all-stars such as Darryl Strawberry, who got to add World Series champion to his resumé that year. The eight-time all star also became the single-season home run leader in 1988 with 39 of those bad boys. However, Strawberry made headlines off the field, too, because for a lot of those baseball years, he apparently wasn't paying his taxes. 

According to court documents (via CBS Sports), Strawberry owed more than half a million bucks from income earned between 1987 and 1990, and another 80 grand from 2003 and 2004. When the IRS came to collect in 2014, it garnished his future earnings in the form of an unpaid portion of a $7.2 million contract he'd signed with the Mets in 1985.

You can take the gold out of 'The Golden Boy'

Diego Maradona, aka "The Golden Boy," is just about the best soccer player that ever was. The Argentinian national hero is literally right up there with Pele. (In 2000, FIFA jointly named both men the best soccer players of the 20th century.) Maradona's finest moment is probably what became known as "The Goal of the Century." In a 1986 World Cup quarterfinal, he drove the ball 180 feet down the pitch, blew off challenges from five English defenders, and scored for Argentina. 

As the biggest soccer star in the world in the 1980s and early '90s, Maradona brought home the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars, but he doesn't have much of that in his possession anymore. According to the Daily Mail, the Italian government seized about $50 million of his assets, alleging he didn't pay his taxes during his pro soccer years in Italy. (Adding insult to injury, the gov also reportedly took his Rolex and his diamond earring.)