Charles Barkley: ’80 Percent of Pro Athletes Lose Their Fortune Due to Mismanagement and Extravagant Spending’

Charles Barkley says about 80 percent of professional athletes lose their fortune because of mismanagement and spending their money to impress others rather than saving it.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 20: Charles Barkley is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Some 78% of them will go broke after just three years of retirement, Craig Brown, an NKSFB Sports Business Division partner, told Fox Business in 2022.

Athletes typically earn large sums of money in a relatively short period, often at a young age. This sudden influx of wealth can lead to poor financial decisions and lack of financial literacy.

Barkley Talks Money on Club Shay Shay

During a “Club Shay Shay” podcast interview with Shannon Sharpe on May 1, Barkley praised both Michael Jordan and LeBron James, saying both star players demonstrated sportsmanship and entrepreneurship.

Junior Bridgeman’s Financial Success

However, amid his high praise for these two billionaire ballers, Barkley delved into the forgotten NBA Milwaukee Bucks small forward/shooting guard Junior Bridgeman’s fast food enterprise.

Bridgeman, who played 12 years in the NBA between 1975 and 1987 for the Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers, is one of the wealthiest former athletes in the world.

Barkley highlighted that, despite Bridgeman having a modest salary and never making more than $350,000 per season, hyet managed to parlay that modest salary by today’s professional sports standards into a business empire that has put his estimated net worth at more than $600 million.

This led to a discussion about why other financially successful players fail to achieve similar post-career success. 

“[Bridgeman] probably got 500 to a thousand restaurants now and does it so low key. Does it so low key. Like every time I’m around him, I try to pick his brain. Right, because it’s different now because these guys make so much money,” he said.

“I said back in our day, dude, and I’m not poo-pooing on this either, I want to make it clear, because you know when I say it, it’s going to sound stupid. The most money I made was $5 million. That was my last year,” Barkley added. “Right, I said now that’s below the minimum. I say to be a businessman in our day and become a billionaire, you were great at business … you were great at business. And he wasn’t a name people wanted to attach themselves to. Magic … people wanted to attach themselves to him. … He was Junior Bridgeman, just a great businessman and a good dude. That, here’s his, to me, is one of the greatest stories ever.”

Barkley noted that the NBA should tap into stories like Bridgeman’s to help guide current players on how to manage money.

“And if I was the NBA, I would bring him in every year to my teams and say, guys, because what people don’t understand, everybody on an NBA team or NFL team ain’t making a lot of money, or ain’t going to play a lot of years,” said Barkley, whose CNN show, “King Charles” with Gayle King was canceled.

Barkley also had the opportunity to mention his mentor, Julius “Dr. J” Irving, who taught him the importance of saving money for the future after he had spent his NBA earnings on multiple cars.

“[Dr. J] said, ‘Chuck, this money got to last you for the rest of your life,’” Barkley said. “‘Everybody knows who you are. You pull up in a Kia, they know that’s Charles Barkley. You pull up in a Mercedes-Benz or a Rolls-Royce, that’s Charles Barkley.”

He recalled some words of wisdom Dr. J imparted. “‘The problem is — it’s not the fact that you can’t afford that car — it’s the fact that the $300,000 you spent on that Bentley, if you bought a car for $70,000, $80,000, you would have had $200,000 more in the bank and it would have been growing and growing,’” Barkley said. “‘And in one year, three years, five years, twenty years, that $200,000 is going to be worth a lot more.’”

When Barkley was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984, veteran stars Dr. J and Moses Malone took him under their wing, with Dr. J advising Barkley on being a professional, including dressing properly. He took Barkley shopping and spent $25,000 on suits for him, telling him “You can’t walk around in sweats” as an NBA player, The Ringer reported.

As Finurah previously reported, Barkley has been open about his gambling addiction, having had family struggling with it during their upbringing.

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