It seems we have no sympathy for rich athletes throwing all of their earnings away on restaurants, diamond necklaces, luxury cars, mansions and affairs. Perhaps it’s because these stories have become a lot more common these days and it’s money that most of us will never see.
Professional athletes make a lot of money. In recent years, we have seen plenty of athletes garner multi-million-dollar contracts but not delivering that same level of value (hello Barry Zito and Alex Rodriguez). At the same time, however, we have seen athletes earning tens of million dollars squandering it away on wasteful spending and questionable investments.
Not every professional athlete has used money as toilet paper, but instead they have tried to sustain their standard of living by participating in the business world. Sometimes this can do a lot more harm than good for these athletes who have spent more time playing with a ball than reading a business textbook.
With that being said, here are the top five investment fails made by famous athletes.
1. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's Love of Business Ventures
During a successful and lucrative 10-year football career, Raghib Ismail earned as much as $20 million. For the average person, this would set you for life, but Ismail wanted more. He invested money into various business ventures, such as a Hard Rock Café ($300,000), COZ Records, a nationwide phone card carrier and a store for tourists to buy framed calligraphy. He has staved off bankruptcy, but he’s still investing in questionable businesses, including one that specializes in custom mouthguards.
2. Bill Buckner's Car Dealership
Bill Buckner remains one of the most prolific baseball players of all time (ask a Boston Red Sox fan and they’ll tell you why). After attempting to escape from the embarrassment of making a historic error in the 1986 World Series, he stationed himself in Idaho with his $6 million earnings. Unfortunately, he poured a lot of his money into a car dealership. It failed and forced him into bankruptcy just two years after opening the business.
3. Antoine Walker's Real Estate Debacles
Antoine Walker was one of the best basketball players on the Boston Celtics squad in the 1990s. Unfortunately, that talent of running and shooting balls couldn’t be allocated to balancing the books and being smart with his money. Walker was profiled by numerous media outlets because he squandered $110 million in a few years due to both wasteful spending and deplorable investments. Some of his investments consisted of 140 properties along the South Side of Chicago which included land to build or income properties. The real estate collapse didn’t help.
4. Lenny Dykstra's Glossy Magazine
For 14 years, Lenny Dykstra was a gritty ballplayer who earned $35 million. Today, however, he’s pretty much broke. Not only did he spend $20 million on Wayne Gretzky’s old home and a private jet, he also invested millions of his fortune into a glossy magazine and brokerage firm. Dykstra now owes tens of millions of dollars and has filed for Chapter 11 protection.
5. Torii Hunter's Inflatable Furniture
Torii Hunter, a former All-Star outfielder, isn’t in financial destitute or living on the streets, but his one investment has made everyone chuckle. Ostensibly, Hunter initially invested $70,000 in an inflatable raft invention, but the creator wanted another $500,000. It worked like this: during tremendous floods, consumers could pump up a device and help furniture on the water and remain dry.
Although we certainly scratch our heads when we see athletes blowing millions of dollars, it can still be understandable for some of these mistakes. Let’s face it: we, too, make investment blunders from time to time. Moreover, professional athletes are dedicated to their craft and spent every waking moment concentrating on their sporting skill rather than reading Murray Rothbard or Jim Rogers.
Of course, these should serve as lessons to future stars who should be wisely saving and investing their money rather than doling out money for restaurants and income properties.