Show Me The Money! What Athletes Bought With Their First Big Paycheck

Athletes | 1/6/22

Being a professional athlete pays very well, and many athletes can’t wait to spend their first big paycheck. Many splurge on cars, homes, and even other professional teams. Others do nothing more than purchase amusement park tickets.

Keep reading and learn what some popular professional athletes decided to buy with their first major league paycheck.

LeBron James: Amusement Park Tickets

LeBron James is known as one of the greatest players to step foot on a basketball court. In 2003, he signed a huge deal with Nike, coming out with a multimillion-dollar paycheck in the process.

Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies
Justin Ford/Getty Images
Justin Ford/Getty Images

He didn’t spend the money on anything major, though. James deposited a vast majority of the money into savings and took a few close friends to an amusement park to celebrate.

Klay Thompson: Pool Table

NBA star Klay Thompson’s first paycheck with the Golden State Warriors was a measly $35,000. Still, it was a lot of money for someone coming out of college.

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Stephen Collins/Unsplash; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Stephen Collins/Unsplash; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Ironically, Thompson kind of spent the money like a college kid, too. With money from his first paycheck, Thompson bought a pool table.

Jeremy Hill: A Giant Back Tattoo Of LSU’s Football Stadium

When Jeremy Hill moved from playing football as an LSU Tiger to a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, he signed a great contract — $3.71 million with $1.64 million guaranteed!

New England Patriots v New York Giants
Al Pereira/Getty Images
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Instead of purchasing something tangible, Hill decided to get a large tattoo of Tigers stadium on his back to commemorate the time he played there.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Gave It All To His Mother

Professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo has been on the scene since he was 16-years-old. One of the greatest players around, Ronaldo did something beyond different with his first big paycheck.

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Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Instead of buying something for himself, Ronaldo gave all of the money to his mother so she would never have to work again.

Joe Flacco: McDonald’s

When Joe Flacco signed on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, his contract was $30 million and $8.75 million guaranteed. So, what did he do with his first professional paycheck?

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Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images; Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images; Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFL quarterback decided to do a quick McDonald’s drive-thru! According to Flacco, “A year ago I said, ‘If I ever sign a big deal I’m going to get that Porsche.’…, but I didn’t.”

Chris Paul: A Shopping Spree For His Friends

Chris Paul only played for Wake Forest for two years before turning professional. From there, he was picked up by the New Orleans Hornets and even earned a $25,000 advance from his agency.

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Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

With that money and his contract, Paul decided to bring his girlfriend, along with his best friend, and his significant other on a shopping spree at the local mall! According to Paul, “[There’s] no feeling like it.”

David Carr: A Couch And A TV

When David Carr was first picked up by the Houston Texans in 2002, he was very practical with his first big-paycheck purchase. The former quarterback went ahead and bought a couch and a television!

Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans - December 24, 2006
Bob Levey/NFLPhotoLibrary
Bob Levey/NFLPhotoLibrary

During an interview with NFL.com, Carr said, “I remember eating pizza while sitting on the floor with my wife, so the first thing we did was buy a couch and a TV. Then we paid the house off.”

Jalen Hurts: A Philly Cheesesteak And Philly Gear

When Jalen Hurts signed his rookie contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, it was worth $6 million with $2.8 million guaranteed and a $1.9 million signing bonus. With that money, Hurts did one of the most Philadelphia things ever.

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

During an interview with GQ Sports, he said, “The very first thing, we went to the mall in Philadelphia. I got a Philly cheesesteak from Larry’s, of course, and I went and got some Philadelphia gear. I got some bomber jackets.”

Steph Curry: A $3.2 Million House In Walnut Creek

Steph Curry has been the point guard for the Golden State Warriors since 2009. Located in the Bay Area of California, Curry did something drastic his first paycheck.

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Realtor.com; Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Realtor.com; Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Curry decided to use his first paycheck and purchase a $3.2 million mansion in Walnut Creek, a neighborhood in San Francisco’s East Bay area.

Eric Davis: A Gold Mickey Mouse Watch

Eric Davis started his professional football career in 1999 when he was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers. Getting his first big paycheck, Davis did a few things. He purchased a few sweatsuits and a gold Mickey Mouse watch!

Eric Davis #25
Craig Jones /Allsport
Craig Jones /Allsport

After “splurging,” Davis went on to help his parents put a new roof on their house.

Nate Burleson: Fake Jewelry

Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Nate Burleson did something quirky with his first paycheck. Not wanting to spend an outrageous amount of money on real jewelry, the former NFL player purchased a fake chain and watch, thinking no one would notice.

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Dominik Bindl/Getty Images
Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

During an interview with NFL.com, he said, “I bought an Escalade, a fake watch and a fake chain — in my mind, I thought no one is going to question if they were real because I was an NFL player — and gave my parents money to help with bills.”

A.J. McCarron: 5-Plus-Carat Engagement Ring

In 2014, the Cinncinatti Bengals signed A.J. McCarron to a four-year, $2.4 million contract with a $181,652 signing bonus. With that money, he decided to do something very sweet.

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Moses Robinson/Getty Images fro Verizon
Moses Robinson/Getty Images fro Verizon

McCarron went and purchased a huge engagement ring for his girlfriend, Katherine Webb. According to E! News, “the ring features a 5-carat cushion-cut center stone surrounded by pink diamonds.”

Michael Choice: Video Game Consoles

Michael Choice received a $2 million signing bonus when he signed on to play with the Oakland Athletics baseball team in 2010. Instead of purchasing a house of flashy cars with his newly found millions, Choice decided to go a different route.

Texas Rangers v New York Mets
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The outfielder reportedly bought two video game consoles, an Xbox and a PlayStation 4.

Matt Judon: Taco Bell

NFL Linebacker Matt Judon signed his first contract in 2016 with the Baltimore Ravens. With his large paycheck, Judon didn’t go and buy anything flashy. In fact, his first purchase was very simple — Taco Bell!

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SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images; Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images; Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

During an interview, Judon said, “I like Taco Bell. I mean, obviously, I’ll have way more money than I’ll know what to do with, but while I’m pondering what I’m going to do with my money, I’ll be eating a chalupa or something.”

Colin Kaepernick: Gave It to Charity

Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick did something very different with his first big paycheck. Instead of buying cars, a home, or jewelry, Kaepernick went ahead and gave the money to his adoptive parents.

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Kevin Winter/WireImage
Kevin Winter/WireImage

From there, he asked them to donate the money to charity, primarily organizations focusing on childhood heart conditions.

Floyd Mayweather: An $8.3 Million House In Las Vegas

In 2018, Floyd Mayweather was the highest-paid athlete in the world. But the professional boxer did not start out that way, having to wait until his first big paycheck to purchase an extravagant home.

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Luxury Estates International; Johnny Nunez/WireImage
Luxury Estates International; Johnny Nunez/WireImage

With his first big payday, Mayweather went ahead and purchased an $8.3 million mansion in Las Vegas!

Chris Long: Cadillac Sedan

Former defensive end Chris Long played in the NFL for 11 seasons before retiring in 2018. For his first big paycheck splurge, Long jokes that he decided on comfort over style.

SiriusXM At Super Bowl LIII
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

During an interview with CNBC Make It, Long said, “[I] bought a Cadillac DTS. I thought it looked really comfortable. I thought, ‘I’m making a good choice here because I’m not buying the, like, [Hummer] H2 or the [Rolls-Royce] Phantom that a lot of my teammates were buying.”

Kyle Busch: A Used Truck

Kyle Busch, aka “The Candy Man,” is a multi-millionaire NASCAR driver. Instead of buying a flashy car with his first paycheck, he bought a used truck from his previous boss.

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Christopher Polk/ACA2011/Getty Images for ACA
Christopher Polk/ACA2011/Getty Images for ACA

During an interview with CNBC, he said, “I went out and bought a five-year-old used vehicle from Papa Joe Hendrick, who was one of my previous bosses.”

Shaquille O’Neal: Three Mercedes-Benz

When former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal signed his first endorsement contract with a trading card company at the age of 20, he went out and splurged. He not only bought a $150,000 Mercedes-Benz for himself but one for his father and a $100,000 car for his mother.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

After spending all of the money, Shaq said during an interview, “I need to get me a business manager.'”

Patrick Mahomes: A Baseball Team

In 2020, Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed the second-largest contract in sporting history, $503 million. With that large chunk of change, Mahomes decided to purchase the Kansas City Royals, the professional baseball team in the city.

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Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During an interview with Yahoo Sports, “I’m honored to become a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals. I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”