19 Famous Athletes Who Lost Big On Business Blunders


Everyone knows professional athletes make lots of money both on the field and through endorsement deals, but what hasn’t proven so lucrative is their overall track record when it comes to making outside business investments.

Professional athletes love making these investments off the field, but sometimes these bad investments wind up leaving them in more debt than they could have ever imagined.  The majority of famous athletes making poor business decisions often stem from their associations with non-investment professionals such as family members, friends and the always mysterious “advisors.” As you will see; being young, rich and famous does not always equate to sound business judgment.

For all the rich athletes out there reading this post take note, and we hope you learn from our list below.

This post originally appeared at Franchise Help.

Torii Hunter invested $70,000 on an inflatable raft

Raghib Ismail sank $300,000 into a Hard Rock Cafe knockoff

Art Monk gave former teammate Terry Orr $50,000 for a failed shoe company

Art Monk was the first player to catch a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive seasons; he was also one of the first to help send a former teammate to jail. This all-time great receiver was deceived into a business venture by an unlikely foe -- former teammate Terry Orr.

Monk and several other teammates gave their tight end $50,000 each to invest in Orr's shoe company, but Orr took the money and paid off personal debts instead. Orr was sentenced to 14 months in prison as a result of the incident according to US News and World Reports.

Michael Vick was unable to repay $6 million in business loans for failed ventures

This famously convicted NFL quarterback may have gone to jail for dog fighting, but this wasn't all he was in trouble for. Vick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last July and recently put his suburban Atlanta mansion on the market.

The trouble? Vick was unable to repay $6 million in loans that he took out to invest in a number of businesses, including a car-rental operation in Indiana, a real estate venture in Canada, and a wine shop in Georgia.

Mike Pelfry was a victim of an $8 billion ponzi scheme

This 6′ 7″ New York Mets pitcher was a first-round draft pick back in 1995. Soon thereafter, 99% of Mike Pelfry's assets would be frozen when legendary financier Robert Allen Stanford's offices were raided in an $8 billion fraud case.

Pelfry, along with baseball stars Johnny Damon, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Scott Eyre, would all be taken by the ponzi scheme. After his offices were raided, Stanford tried to flee the country, but the private jet he hired refused to accept his frozen credit card.

Antoine Winfield got cheated out of $1.35 million

Antoine Winfield -- the top-ranked defensive back in the country in his draft class -- was a first-round pick out of Ohio State University. Unfortunately, the standout defender soon saw half of his $3.5 million signing bonus go down the tubes when his close friend and adviser Dunyasha Mon Yetts pilfered the funds in the name of responsibly managing Winfield's investments.

In reality, Yetts used the money to make highly speculative (and extremely poor) investments, and then he went even further by actually moving some cash out of Winfield's accounts and into his own. All this was hidden from Winfield, who believed his friend was busy investing the funds for a healthy profit.

Eric Dickerson was convinced he was Italian nobility and fell for a scam

Eric Dickerson was the fastest running back to reach 10,000 yards. He was also the fastest to believe his financial adviser was an Italian Count. Dickerson met financier Luigi DiFonzo at a Hall of Fame dinner in Canton, Ohio. He decided to invest money with DFJ Italia after Difonzo convinced the table he was of Italian nobility.

What Dickerson didn't know was that DiFonzo was a two-time felon. This steely scam artist targeted NFL players and Dickerson soon became one of his victims. Mamma mia!

Fred Taylor's agent supposedly swindled him out of a $5 million signing bonus

Terrell Davis was defrauded by a hedge fund manager

Two time Super Bowl Champion and NFL MVP Terrell Davis was defrauded by Atlanta hedge fund manager Kirk Wright, who allegedly took his clients for a cool $150 million.

Wright's other victims included clients Blaine Bishop, Steve Atwater, Ray Crockett and Rod Smith. Although Wright would later commit suicide in jail, a lawsuit lives on, as several clients are still out piles of cash says the New York Times.

John Elway invested $15 million in a ponzi scheme

This Super Bowl MVP and former teammate of Terrell Davis has thrown up some Hail Marys in his day, but none greater than this particular hedge fund investment: Elway and a co-investor committed $15 million to what turned out to be a ponzi scheme run by hedge fund manager Sean Mueller says The Denver Post. Elway and his business partner weren't the only victims: Mueller collected some $71 million in funds from over 60 investors. Don't hurt too bad for Elway -- he's had plenty of business success.

Muhsin Muhammad was sued by Wachovia for $25,000 in credit card debt.

Johnny Unitas went bankrupt less than 20 years after retiring

This all-time great quarterback came from humble beginnings and worked hard, but the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship got the best of Johnny Unitas.

Johnny retired from football in 1973 and by 1991 was bankrupt. His failed business ventures included bowling alleys, restaurants and real estate.

Darren McCarty's business partner forged his name on a $650,000 check

This Detroit Red Wings forward won four Stanley Cups and was known as one of the most physical men on the ice. It may be time to put those fists to work off the ice as well: McCarty's business partner took a $3 million loan out of the big man's personal savings account and, in a completely separate instance, forged McCarty's name on a $650,000 check! Where's an enforcer when you need one?

Sheryl Swoopes was $750,000 in the red

Travis Henry had to pay $4 million + in fines for cocaine

Sharing the backfield at the University of Tennessee with ex-con Jamal Lewis, Henry indulged in some of the same mistaken habits as Lewis -- mainly cocaine.

Lewis would only get 4 months in prison after dealing the illegal substance and would end up much luckier than Henry. The Pro Bowl running back would have to pay over $4 million in fines and is currently serving a prison term for drug trafficking according to USA Today.

Deuce McAllister owes Nissan $930,000

Scottie Pippen lost $3.5 million in a bad real estate deal

This ex-Chicago Bull and NBA Champion famously supported Michael Jordan on the basketball court, but couldn't quite match his teammate's business savvy off the court. Pippen's famous investment in a private jet took him under.

The NBA swingman is seeking restitution from a firm that he claims owes him at least $8 million after misguiding him on investments. In a separate financial blunder, Scottie lost a $3.5 million investment in a South Side real estate deal.

Mark Brunell is bankrupt with over $25 million in debts

This speedy left-handed quarterback once led the University of Washington to their second straight Rose Bowl victory over the Michigan Wolverines. Now Brunell is bankrupt with over $25 million in debts.

His company Champion LLC, which included former Jaguars teammates, squandered money in multiple real estate ventures in Grand Rapids and Traverse City. After all the losses Brunell says bankruptcy has reaffirmed what is most important to him: faith, family and friendships.

Lenny Dykstra owes $13 million and can't make mortgage payments.

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