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6 rich NFL stars who live like they’re broke

Some professional athletes blow their paychecks on fancy cars and expensive homes. That doesn’t always end well: One study found that a full 15 percent of pro football players ended up declaring bankruptcy.

But not every rich athlete spends recklessly. A good number even choose to live like they’re broke.

Here are six NFL players who have earned millions but don’t always act like it.

The Washington Post
Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins earns an average of $23.9 million a year. Still, the 29-year-old NFL star chooses to live in his parents’ basement with his wife during the summer.

He also drives a dented GMC Savana passenger van that he bought from his grandma for $5,000.

Patrick McDermott
Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan

Cousins isn’t the only one on his team living on less. Pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan, who signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract in 2015, shares an apartment with childhood friend Andrew Walker and drives a Chevy Tahoe, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Kerrigan also keeps his food costs low, Walker tells the Journal: “He makes most of his own meals but, when he does splurge, he’s going to Chipotle.”

Jeff Gross
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes part in pre-game warm ups before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has earned about $35 million throughout the course of his career, but instead of spending it on accumulating lots of stuff, he’s managed to save most of it, he told ESPN in 2016.

He does that by keeping himself on an allowance he worked out with his mom. “I grew up knowing what to spend and what not to spend,” Heyward-Bey said. “It’s easy when you don’t have money to not spend. That’s how I grew up.”

He even cancels his cable during football season, since he’s not home to watch it. “I keep things real simple,” he said. “I’m not really a flashy guy. I understand what I want to buy. I invest my money well and pay my taxes.”

Tom Szczerbowski
Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski

As of 2015, the New England Patriots star had saved a full 100 percent of his salary.

“To this day, I still haven’t touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money,” Gronkowski wrote in his book from that year, “It’s Good to be Gronk.”

Instead, Gronkowski, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract with the Patriots in 2012, decided to spend only what he made off his endorsement deals: “I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school.”

Scott W. Grau | Icon Sportswire | Corbis
Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin (27) runs with the ball after intercepting a pass during game action between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

Glover Quin

The Detroit Lions safety, who earns an average of $6.5 million a year, has been saving 70 percent of his take-home paysince he was drafted in 2009.

Quin is also a savvy investor. He puts 10-to-20 percent of his savings in private equity companies, with the aim of eventually hopefully doubling his income.

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.”

Nicole Craine
Former NFL player John Urschel

John Urschel

Even during Urschel’s peak earning years, when he was making $600,000, the offensive lineman chose to live on less than $25,000 a year and drive a used Nissan.

That means the NFL star was living off of 4 percent of his salary at the time and banking the rest.

Urschel, who retired from football at age 26 in 2017, is now pursuing his doctorate at MIT.


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