By RealClearSports staff
Turning to your favorite athletes or former sports star for financial advice might seem to make sense – they deal with a lot of numbers and stats all year long – but trust us, they are hardly the ones to seek out.
Blessed with millions of dollars at a young age, professional athletes often seem more concerned with inane spending and unwise investments than savings accounts and 401Ks. And that doesn’t even mention their tax return mistakes, of which there are enough to make Timothy Geithner embarrassed. From fleets of cars to yachts to entourages to even Bengal tigers, the ways some athletes chose to spend their money is comical at best and ignorant at worst.
In August of 2007, a federal marshal seized Latrell Sprewell
’s $1.5 million yacht (famously named “Milwaukee’s Best”) after Sprewell had failed to pay his mortgage on the boat. He also lost his house, and now the state of Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit for unpaid taxes. This all, of course, comes after Sprewell turned down a three-year, $21-million contract, saying, “I have a family to feed.”
Some athletes prefer to travel extravagantly by land instead of sea, however. Take former Red Sox slugger Jack Clark,
for example. One story says Clark was once on his way to the ballpark for a game when he passed a car lot. Clark saw something he liked and dropped in to buy two sports cars for $90,000 each before continuing on to the game. At the time he filed for bankruptcy, Clark still owed money on 17 of his 18 automobiles.
Clark and Sprewell lost their fortunes in a hurry, but perhaps there’s no faster fall from grace than Michael Vick. In 2006, Sports Illustrated estimated that Vick made $25.4 million. Now, he owes well over $10 million to a variety of different companies. How did Vick go from being one of the highest paid athletes to owing millions? The entourage didn’t help, especially since he was spending about $300,000 a month to support friends and family. But a bigger financial gaffe was entrusting his money to a woman who is now banned from working with any firm that trades on the NYSE because she bilked two old women out of $150,000, and a man who’s been accused of defrauding church members. His finances were such a mess that the bankruptcy judge appointed a trustee to help him out. But don’t feel sorry for Vick just yet – in an effort to pay down his debt, Vick will be selling three of his six homes.
Yachts? Six homes? That’s more luxurious than what most of us get to enjoy, but it’s nothing compared to the spending done by Mike Tyson. He might be the most well-known fighter of his generation, but if there was one thing Tyson was better at than boxing, it was spending money. In 2003, he filed for bankruptcy after his debt reached over $27 million, about half of which was to the IRS. What was he spending all his money on? For starters, two Bengal tigers for $140,000, for which he also had to pay a trainer $125,000 a year. But that was just a drop in the bucket. There was also the $4.5 million he spent on cars, and perhaps the most inane purchase of all, a bathtub for his first wife, Robin Givens, at a cost of $2 million.
While you may look to guys like these for guidance on which sneakers to wear or which car to drive, it’s probably best to leave the financial advising to tax pros, and not pro athletes.