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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is There a Financial Equivalent of the Darwin Awards?

Death is a mostly a serious matter; but one can't help laughing at the Darwin Awards for people who have killed themselves doing crazy things and, in the process, lifted up the whole process of evolution. One of my favorites was the guy who went up on the roof and, for support, tied one end of a rope around his waist and the other end around his wife's car bumper. Mankind no longer has to worry about him having offspring.

These thoughts crossed my mind as I read the "Etc." column, titled "Why Ballers Go Bust," in the Bloomberg/BusinessWeek magazine for the week of October 17. The column reported that Scottie Pippen lost $120 million in bad investments, Antoine Walker filed for bankruptcy after making $120 million in his career, Mark Brunell lost millions in Florida real estate, Evander Holyfield blew more than $200 million, and the list goes on.

Here's my advice to multimillionaire athletes: take a measly $50 million and invest it in 30-year Treasury bonds at 3.89%, and get $1.9 million each year for the next 30 years. Next, sign up for my class in which I will teach how to live on $1.9 million/year. Then go out and piss away the balance by succumbing to greed and hair-brained schemes of your "friends" and advisors.

Actually, I shouldn't be so sarcastic since they are, in effect, taking over part of the function of what the government likes to do--which is redistribute income.


  1. Of course, it's only a Darwin award if it happens before the guy has offspring. Death is a cruel punishment, but.... yikes, what was that guy thinking tying the rope to the wife's car bumper!!


    Worst part is that there are a bunch of other people standing there just watching the guy do that. I guess they didn't want to get in the way, though. He seemed pretty mad! :S

  3. I am still at awe at people losing hundreds of millions as if it was change money.

    If i ever hit 50milliuon Rob, I'll be the first to sign up to your course ;)

  4. Re: Mich I don't think you'll need my course when you $50 million.
    Re: Kevin Great link. They didn't want to get in the way but they seemed interested in the end result!

  5. I've been saying the same thing for years. But greed, stupidity, and ignorance know no limits.

  6. re: Grouch Sometimes with athletes you can understand it a bit because they are so young and they have never had to think for themselves - even many who went to college!
    But the same thing happens with lottery winners. You would think their advisors would suggest putting at least a couple of million in perfectly safe investments and then let them act stupid as long as they don't borrow.

  7. Robert,

    You made me laugh and shake my head. Professional ball players (and other pro athletes) need to have their salaries entirely invested in something boring and dull, where they can piss away half of the interest. That should be mandatory for pro contracts. Holyfield, I read, lost his house. What's up with that? No wonder he feels the need to keep employing himself as an aging punching bag.

  8. re: Andrew There are of course success stories but the article reported that Sports Illustrated claims that 60% of professional Athletes get into financial difficulty. I don't believe I've ever heard of any of their advisors having financial difficulties.

  9. great post, I love reading the Darwin Awards. Talk about feeling better about yourself!

    I think the problem with pro athletes is they surround themselves with the wrong "friends." It's probably hard to know who to trust. Not that that is an excuse for losing millions.

  10. Lori-You're right about the friends issue. I'm not sure about the knowing who to trust point. These athletes have advisors and the advisors I assume are pointing out the risks of the ventures they are going into mostly. Then you have the equivalent of the guy tying the rope to the car bumper - absolutely no help there.