Bankruptcy is a legal protection for when a person is unable to pay back their outstanding debts. According to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, nearly 800,000 bankruptcy filings are made each year, with some of those being made by high-profile athletes. It’s hard to believe that athletes who have made millions of dollars are unable to pay anything back, but not all athletes make their money last. These are just some of the athletes who have gone bankrupt. Spotrac was used to estimate professional contract earnings.
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In January 2014, it was reported that former NFL quarterback Vince Young filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A Chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep their business alive and pay creditors over time. Over his six-year NFL career, the former Tennessee Titans QB earned about $35.3 million.
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In 2010, former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy two years after retiring from professional basketball. When someone files Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they are required to gather and sell their nonexempt assets and use the proceeds to pay back all or part of their debts. Walker had career earnings of over $108 million.
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The only female athlete on this list, WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004. A Chapter 13 filing enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Debtors propose a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years. Swoopes owed over $700,000 in debt.
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In July 2009, former Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy years after his 12-season MLB career ended. He later was accused of selling property that was part of the bankruptcy estate without the permission of the bankruptcy trustee. Dykstra pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud in July 2012.
In 1991, former professional tennis star Boris Becker was the No. 1 player in the world, but in June 2017, he was declared bankrupt by a London court after failing to pay a debt since October 2015. Becker made over $25 million in prize money during his tennis career.
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In November 2014, it was reported that hockey player Jack Johnson had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, claiming less than $50,000 in assets against $10 to $15 million in estimated debts. Johnson is the only athlete on this list that is currently still playing their sport professionally and is in the middle of a five-year $16.2 million contract.
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Former professional hockey player Darren McCarty filed for bankruptcy in 2006. McCarty’s lawyer at the time said that the 2005 NHL lockout, a divorce that was finalized the prior year and a smaller contract with the Calgary Flames were reasons for the bankruptcy filing. He had debts of $6.5 million.
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Former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl champion Mark Brunell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010. Over his lengthy NFL career, Brunell earned over $50 million in salary and bonuses.
Dorothy Hamill was an American figure skater and gold medalist at the 1976 Winter Olympics. In 1996, she and her husband filed for bankruptcy. In a recent recount of the incident to CNBC, she said, “The good news is I’ve finally found people that are trustworthy and I’m a little smarter. As an athlete, you don’t learn all these things.”
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In 2003, superstar boxer Mike Tyson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the 20 years prior to his bankruptcy, Tyson earned over $300 million. He had to pay over $23 million in debts. To avoid following the same path as the athletes listed here, check out these easy ways to start saving money.
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