Regardless of what sport they play, professional athletes are quite well compensated. And these athletes come from all different backgrounds. Some come from middle-class families, while others come from poverty. They all have different reactions to encountering a big windfall.
Of course, many players can’t spend their money fast enough and buy fancy houses and luxury cars. Other athletes know that careers are short and the money won’t last forever. Below is a list of some of the most frugal, as well as some of the most extravagant superstars.
King – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
There are few athletes who are more willing to flash their wealth than Floyd Mayweather Jr. And it kind of works for the boxer thanks to the massive amount of money he makes. He has an estimated net worth of $750 million.
The talented pugilist not only has a fleet of luxury cars, but he also owns his own private jet. Mayweather Jr. also lives large in a gigantic mansion in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Commoner – Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson retired following the 2018 season after spending 10 years in the NFL. And he did quite well financially with career earnings of around $57 million. With the way he lived his life, though, it’s likely the wide receiver saved much of that money.
Nelson made a habit of flying into Milwaukee rather than Green Bay when going home because the flights were cheaper. He also regularly worked long hours on the family farm despite his day job.
King – Tom Brady
Tom Brady has career earnings totaling over $212 million over the course of his long playing career. Amazingly enough, though, he isn’t even the top earner in his family. That role goes to his supermodel wife, Giselle Bundchen.
Accordingly, the couple lives in the lap of luxury. Brady owns a fleet of cars that include Aston Martins, Cadillacs, Audis and Lexuses. The duo also owns luxury homes in Brookline, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California, and New York City.
Commoner – Daniel Norris
Daniel Norris, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, made nearly $1.3 million in 2019. When he was first drafted in 2011, he received a $2 million signing bonus. The left-hander, though, has socked most of that money in the bank.
During the off-season, the Tiger lives in a Volkswagen camper that he has attached a small apartment too. He also makes a point of living on less than $1k a month as $800 is deposited into his account each month.
King – Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has made a lot of money in his career. Not only has he won more golf tournaments than almost anyone, but he also has held a ton of lucrative endorsement deals including a major one with Nike.
He’s had no problem spending his money. Woods purchased a $40 million property in Florida, only to tear the house down to build a new one valued at $20 million. The star golfer also owns a 155-foot yacht.
Commoner – Ryan Kerrigan
The NFL has always been desperate for players who can sack the quarterback. And they are willing to pay quite a bit of money for guys who can do just that. The Redskins gave pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan a $57.5 million deal in 2015.
The star outside linebacker has made sure to save some of that money. Rather than living in a big mansion, he shares an apartment with a childhood friend. Rather than a new car, he still drives a used Chevy Tahoe.
King – Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson had one of the more unique playing careers in NFL history. Late in his tenure, the wide receiver even changed his last name to Ochocinco, representing his jersey number. Ochocinco made a whopping $46.6 million during his professional career.
The most ostentatious purchase he made was his “super-truck.” The massive vehicle, which looks like a commercial shipping truck, ran the wide receiver close to $100,000. Johnson sold the truck after realizing it only gets 7 miles to the gallon.
Commoner – Kawhi Leonard
If you’ve followed NBA champion Kawhi Leonard since his early days in the NBA then you would know of the tale of his Chevy Tahoe. After signing a $94 million deal, he continued to drive a ’07 Tahoe.
“It runs … and it’s paid off,” the star told Sports Illustrated. That’s good enough reason to drive anything, but hey, doesn’t he want to ride around in a fancy Mercedes Benz? No, Leonard isn’t one of those athletes.
King – Gilbert Arenas
Some superstars feel like their successful runs are never going to end. This was certainly true of Gilbert Arenas who set the NBA on fire in the early 2000s with his electric scoring. A fight with a teammate involving a gun, though, soon found him out of the league.
While he was in the NBA, Arenas spent his money lavishly. His indulgences included wildly expensive train sets, over the top landscaping and a shark tank in his house.
Commoner – Trey Burke
The Utah Jazz selected Trey Burke 9th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. As a lottery pick, the former Michigan Wolverine point guard was made a millionaire overnight. Still, Burke elected to only receive an allowance of around $5k each month.
The move seemed to be a smart one when Burke was demoted to the D League while playing for the New York Knicks. He worked hard though and made it back into the league and he now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
King – Cristiano Ronaldo
With soccer being the most popular sport in the world, the biggest stars of the game make a whole lot of money. Cristiano Ronaldo is, perhaps, the best player in the world and makes a huge salary to go along with major endorsements.
And whenever Ronaldo is seen in public, it is easy to spot his insane wealth. From giant diamond earrings to luxury cars to clothing with name brands splashed all over them, it’s easy to see that the footballer lives like a king.
Commoner – Rob Gronkowski
Pretty much the day he entered the league, Rob Gronkowski was the best tight end in football. And his salary reflected that with career earnings of $54 million. Amazingly, he hasn’t spent any of that money.
Thanks to his personality, Gronk is a popular pitchman with many sponsor deals. And he has chosen to live solely off endorsement money. The tight end also notes that he almost never spends money on clothes wearing shoes and jeans until they are in tatters.
Commoner – Kirk Cousins
No NFL player has worked the system better than Minnesota Quarterback Kirk Cousins. While with the Redskins, he was franchised twice earning over $20 million each year. He then hit the free agency market and signed a $90 million, fully guaranteed deal with the Vikings.
And if he keeps up his frugal lifestyle, that cash is going to last for a while. While with the Redskins, Cousins stayed in his parents’ house during the off-season. He also eschews big car spending, driving an old GMC van rather than a luxury auto.
King – Deuce McAllister
Deuce McAllister is a bit of a folk hero in New Orleans. The Ludlow, Mississippi native was not only a member of the 2010 Super Bowl winning team, but he has also been inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
And when he retired from football, he attempted to capitalize on his popularity by opening up both a restaurant in New Orleans as well as a car dealership. The business endeavors did not pay off, though, and Nissan eventually sued the running back.
Commoner – Daniel Bryan
Wrestlers who appear at the top of the card can earn millions of dollars each year. And Daniel Bryan has been a headliner ever since he joined the WWE in 2009. Before that, however, he had been on the independent circuit for many years.
Life is a bit rougher on the road and Bryan has made sure to incorporate those habits in his current situation. The well-known vegan is so frugal that he even reuses Christmas wrapping paper.
King – DeShawn Stevenson
DeShawn Stevenson may have never become a superstar in the NBA, but his shooting and defense were valued by a number of different teams. The wing made close to $35 million over the course of his career.
He spent that money on a number of different things, but one purchase was quite unique. Stevenson had an ATM machine installed in his kitchen. While he could take money out of the unit for free, friends and family were charged $4.50 per transaction.
Commoner – Alfred Morris
Alfred Morris was only a 6th round pick in the NFL Draft, so he did not receive the same kind of bonus as his comrades drafted in the 1st or 2nd. The running back, however, quickly established himself in the NFL rushing for over 1,600 years in his rookie season.
Despite the success, Morris never forgot where he came from. Even when entering his 7th season in the league the Washington Redskin/Dallas Cowboy was driving a Mazda Sedan.
Commoner – LeBron James
LeBron James is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA and has been for a long time. He has also received a number of lucrative endorsement deals which include a lifetime contract with Nike.
But James certainly doesn’t spend like a megastar. His teammates have noted that he refuses to pay for premium streaming music or even mobile data. The superstar has also been known the be quite comfortable flying business class rather than coach.
King – Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson may have retired from boxing years ago, but his legacy and his personality keeps plenty of money flowing in. And Tyson has had no problem spending it as fast as he makes it.
The boxer famously purchased three tigers, one of whom appeared with him in the movie The Hangover. These tigers not only cost him $100,000 upfront, but they also require thousands of dollars in care each year. He also purchased his first wife a bathtub that cost $2 million.
Commoner – Giovani Bernard
There is no NFL position with a shorter shelf life than running back. While premier backs can earn lots of money early in their careers, many of them are finished by the time they turn 30.
Bengals halfback, Giovani Bernard, has been in the league for 7 years. And he is making sure to stretch the money he has earned. The Cincinnati Bengal still drives a used minivan and lives in a small apartment. He is well prepared if an injury occurs.
King – Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has been the king of international soccer for nearly 10 years. And with soccer being a global phenomenon, the Argentine has made himself plenty of money. The kind of money that makes any kind of financial decision possible.
Messi’s Spanish neighbors couldn’t afford their home and offered to sell the property to the superstar. When he refused, they became so obnoxious and loud that he had no choice but to acquiesce. The house next door was simply added on to Messi’s already huge complex.
Commoner – A.J. Francis
The former defensive tackle of the Seattle Seahawks wasn’t a big name player. In fact, most didn’t know who he was at all. He would bounce around teams for years even.
Francis lives like a commoner by driving an Uber like a regular person would, so that he can help backup his income. The NFL money wasn’t a sure or forever thing, so its a great thing that he had enough financial literacy to begin doing that.
Commoner – Ryan Broyles
The former University of Oklahoma star and NFL wideout, Ryan Broyles isn’t one to participate in the extravagant life. You won’t find him posting pictures of all his money or fancy things.
You will more than likely see him with his wife and family, like in this picture we’ve provided from his Instagram. While in the NFL, he stuck to a $60,000 a year salary, and not what the NFL paid him. That’s a smart man right there.
Commoner – John Urschel
Not many NFL players would take time out of their precious summers to go back to school and willingly learn mathematics at MIT. Not only is that one of the most intensive universities in the nation, but that would also be very time-consuming.
John Urschel is a former Baltimore Raven who drives a Nissan Versa. He clearly had a vision for life after the NFL, so kudos to him for getting down to business while others had yachts on their minds.
Commoner – Andrew Chafin
The current pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Andrew Chafin for sure has the salary to live more lavishly than he is. The life he leads is modest, to say the least.
“I’m pretty simple when it comes to what I need off the field. I’m not surrounded by houses and busy roads and stuff; it’s peace and quiet,” Chafin said. “It’s like being back home and being out in the woods, that kind of thing, just able to get away from stuff.”
King – Ben Simmons
Where do we start with NBA All-Star Ben Simmons? Well, if we look at his dating history, the name Kylie Jenner pops up. Everyone who knows a thing or two about the reality star knows that she isn’t dating a regular Joe.
Just take a look at this picture Simmons posted on his Instagram. He arrived to the game in a Rolls Royce, with a Burberry man-bag in hand. Only a king would think of this.
Commoner – Glover Quin
A former Detroit Lions safety, Glover Quin averaged earnings of $6.5 million a year. That’s more than a great majority of Americans will ever see in their life, but still, Quin saved seventy percent of his take-home since getting drafted in 2009.
It seems we have a theme here that reveals those who are smarter with their money tend to be the athletes who live like ordinary people. The plan has always been to “save as much money as I can and spend as little as I can in the time that I have in the league,” Quin tells CNBC, “so that I can maximize my future.”
Commoner – Matt Bonner
It’s common knowledge that NBA players have a high salary, even if they ride the bench. Matt Bonner isn’t in the NBA anymore, but he wasn’t a player that you would see get too much playtime.
Bonner loves to save money and will do anything he can to do it. He uses public transportation quite often, and would rather have on New Balance sneakers than Nike’s because they’re cheaper. That’s a common man in our eyes.
Commoner – Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck shocked the entire sports world when he decided to retire at the start of the 2019 NFL season. He wanted to focus on his career after football and we say good for him.
As for his living habits, he lives like he’s still in the early 2000s. The man still uses flip phones! He told USA Today, “I don’t think I want to be connected 24/7, and this phone is maybe sort of a reminder that you don’t have to be connected. And it’s nice to get away. It’s nice to turn your phone off.”
Commoner – Carmelo Anthony
With the situation Carmelo Anthony was in the past few seasons, it was smart of him to live like a commoner. No team would add him to their roster until the Portland Trailblazers decided to in 2019. During his downtime, he practiced and used coupons.
“I go to the supermarket, make sure I get the newspaper and tear the coupons out; save a dollar or two,” Anthony said. Imagine being in line behind this superstar and you see him using coupons.
Commoner – Joe Flacco
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco isn’t one for the flash. He also doesn’t care for fancy meals either. Listen to this story about the champion and tell us what you think.
After signing a record-breaking contract worth $120.6 million, he chose to celebrate, like most would. Instead of going out to the fanciest restaurant there is, he chose to head over to McDonald’s for a McNugget meal. How frugal can one be after earning all that money?
Commoner – Jeff Teague
When you make millions of dollars playing the sport you love, you get a lot more freedom and judged differently than those who don’t. Just ask point guard Jeff Teague.
While playing with the Indiana Pacers, he decided to live at home with his parents. If a regular person were to do that, one might think they don’t have anything going on in their life. He was so humble about it, that he even gave his parents the master while he stayed in the basement.
Commoner – Kyle Larson
When you’re the next big thing a sport, it can be hard to remain humble. Some let it go to their heads, but NASCAR driver Kyle Larson isn’t in that same boat.
The racer watches his race earnings like a hawk and would rather fly coach than first class. “I’m cheap with my money when it comes to flying,” Larson said. “And, I like to rack up the miles so I can maybe get some free trips.”
Commoner – Madison Bumgarner
As a World Series MVP, its shocking that Madison Bumgarner still chops wood and does farm labor during the off-season. He doesn’t have a huge mansion or anything like that; he has a ranch.
The ranch is in the North Carolina Appalachian foothills, a place where he grew up. He’s been on record saying he would gladly get rid of fancy cars and lavish homes so that he could live an outdoorsy lifestyle.
Commoner And King – Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch was one of the most dynamic running backs the NFL ever had the privilege of signing. The man earned the name Beast Mode for crying out loud, not something you call just anybody.
As for his lifestyle, he would send the money he made from his contract straight to the bank account. He would only spend his money from endorsements and isn’t afraid of taking public transportation. With that, he’s also the same guy who puts a velvet rope around his Lambo when it’s parked outside.
King – Dwyane Wade
The more popular Dwyane Wade became in the NBA, the more we started to see him blossom into a Hollywood man. First, it was his outfits that began to become more stylish.
Then, he married actress and star Gabrielle Union. He’s retired now and you can catch him at every fashion show. If a commoner could live like Wade, they would do it, but they can’t. Sorry Wade, the life got to you, but there’s nothing wrong with that considering your upbringing.
King – Odell Beckham Jr.
The moment Odell Beckham Jr. made that immaculate catch years ago, he immediately became a star in every circle. The flashy and loud wide receiver is always the life of the party wherever he goes.
For breakfast, he has champagne with his cereal. He’s never caught seen without anything designer because that’s not the life he leads. Take a look at his neck in this picture. He’s wearing multiple diamond-studded chains. Need we say more?
Commoner – Tim Duncan
There are few NBA players in the history of the game better than Tim Duncan. The soft-spoken former star who’s now a coach for the team he won five championships with doesn’t need anything lavish.
He never came to games wearing fancy outfits and would opt to wear a plain button-up with jeans. He carries his own bags through the airport while he could anyone else do that for him too. He’s like any other person.
King – Russell Westbrook
The self-proclaimed fashion king of the NBA isn’t one for the ordinary life. Russell Westbrook likes things flashy as he adds his own fierce flair to them, and it’s been that way since he entered the league.
Take one look at this photo of him standing next to a Lambo during Fashion Week. A commoner wouldn’t do this at all, let alone attend Fashion Week. Westbrook has his own clothing line too, he can wear his brand while he walks around like a king.
King – Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is a budding star that will continue to grow. The Formula One champ isn’t one to live life like a commoner, as he’s been linked to the likes of Nicki Minaj, Gigi Hadid, and even Rihanna.
Now, ask yourself, “would a commoner be caught dead seen with Nicki Minaj and Rihanna?” That answer is why he’s made this list as a king and not a commoner. More power to him.