These days, athletes make a tremendous amount of money. Even the lowest paid players in Major League Baseball (MLB) are earning over half a million dollars a year, and the game’s biggest stars are making $20 million to $30 million annually. Some are signed to multi-year deals and paid well over $100 million. For example, the Washington Nationals recently signed a seven-year deal with Cy Young winning pitcher Max Scherzer rumored to be valued at $210 million.
However, despite these tremendously high salaries to play professional sports, we frequently hear about how former stars of the game have to declare to bankruptcy, as they have managed to spend all their money and save nothing for the future.
According to recent news feature from CNN, former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Antoine Walker, who was estimated to have earned around $108 million over his playing career, has now filed for bankruptcy.
Walker was 19-years-old when he helped his college team win the NCAA basketball national championship. He entered the 1996 NBA draft, and the Boston Celtics chose Walker as a high first round pick of that year’s draft. He became one of the game’s elites and was invited to the NBA All-Star team three times. He also helped lead the Miami Heat to a win in 2006.
Over his career, he had earned over $100 million, and that was far more money that he could have ever imagined growing up in a low-income Chicago neighborhood, as he said in the recent interview with CNN. He retired in 2008, and, two years later, he was broke. Walker said he thought he was financially set for the rest of life, but he was obviously wrong. Now he spends some of his time trying to help young athletes not make the same mistakes he did that lead to his filing bankruptcy.
Walker said like many other young athletes, suddenly wealthy, spend money on luxury items like cars, houses and jewelry. He also gave tons of money away to his friends and family and considered himself essentially an “open ATM” throughout his career.
He now knows that leading this kind of lifestyle cost him his financial future, and he hopes prevent people from making the same mistakes. He does admit to losing a lot of money from gambling but said that was not really a major cause of his economic downfall, and the media reports were overblown in that regard.