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NFL star Chad Ochocinco saved 80% of his money by flying coach and wearing fake jewelry

He was flashy, not materialistic.

chad johnson, chad ochocinco, athlete bankruptcy

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.


The former Cincinnati Bengal, New England Patriot and Miami Dolphin was known for being a diva on the field but was financially conservative when he took off his jersey. He wore fake jewelry from Claire's and prefers to fly coach instead of private.

"I ain't flying private. Put me on Spirit," Ochocinco told Sharpe. "Exit row, window seat, that's all I need. As long as I get from point A to point B. I don't need private."

Ochocinco didn't need to project an image because his reputation spoke for itself. "If you can get to a point in your career where your name becomes bigger than anything you can purchase, there's your value,” he said. “My name itself, Ochocinco, at one point, was bigger. We talk about watches and jewelry and chains—never bought real anything while I was playing. What was the point? I went to Claire's.”

The former NFL wide receiver doesn't need a fancy watch when it’s free to ask someone the time.

"Why am I buying a $50,000 watch? An $80,000 watch? What time is it real quick?" Ochocinco asked Sharpe. "How much that cost me? Time is free," Ochocinco said.

He admitted that spending all your time and money trying to impress people is a losing game that doesn’t get anyone anywhere. "People aren't going to listen because we are caught up in looking a certain way, living a certain way, trying to appease others who don't really care nothing about you, just to say 'Oh, I got it.'"

He admitted that he gives his kids whatever they need and lets them splurge some but wants them to understand the importance of living within their means.

“I allow the kids to enjoy, but I need them to understand there’s gonna come a time you’re gonna have to get off that payroll, but for right now, I will always be there for them,” he told Sharpe. “No matter what they want. Long as you don’t try to live a lifestyle that you know you can’t afford.”

Even though Ochocinco was a multimillion-dollar athlete and one of the biggest names in sports, his message pertains to just about everyone. People should spend their time, energy and money creating a reputation for themselves rather than wasting their resources trying to impress people.

Fancy cars, jewelry and friends who like you for your money won’t be around for long. But your name lasts forever.

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