Expensive Divorces That Cost These Athletes A Fortune

The saying goes, money can't buy you love. While the jury may still be out on that, it's tougher to argue falling out of love won't cost you a dime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to 689,308 divorces amd 1,985,072 marriages in 2021, the equivalent of 2.5 marital breakups for every 1,000 people.


For the average person, a divorce will typically set back a divorcee anywhere between $7,000 to $11,300 in legal fees, with only 10% of those divorces costing anything less than that. Other costs like home appraisals, tax accountants, child custody evaluation, and other miscellaneous needs can add $1,480 to that bill. If either side wants to contest the divorce agreement, the costs above can even double. Due to factors like the increased burden on a woman's ability to earn more money after a divorce — women already earn less than men and often give up better-paying jobs for fewer hours and less pay to make time for child-rearing — women are more often awarded spousal and child support in a divorce settlement.


It turns out professional athletes are just like the rest of us but with much higher divorce costs because of their sizeable fortunes. These are a few of the most costly divorces.

Michael Jordan

Air Highness himself, Michael Jordan, is a legend on and off the court and has amassed enough wealth from endorsements and NBA highlights to prove it. Jordan, estimated today to have a net worth of $3 billion after the sale of his ownership in the Charlotte Hornets, met ex-wife Juanita Vanoy after a game in the early part of his career with the Chicago Bulls. The blind date set up by mutual friends resulted in a 1989 marriage already showing signs of strain, with a potential paternity suit, differences in core values, and an initial 2002 divorce filing — narrowly averted by a reconciliation of differences — pointing to trouble in paradise.


After 17 years of marriage, the couple reached the end of their rope in 2006 with a $168 million divorce settlement in Vanoy's favor, which was the costliest divorce settlement for a celebrity or athlete in history at the time. While Jordan has gone on to do just fine financially, the sting of that settlement likely inspired the prenuptial agreement with his new wife, Yvette Prietto, which offers a million-dollar payout for each year of marriage for the next decade, after which it switches to $5 million for every year of marriage.

Jose Conseco

Home run slugger Jose Conseco earned an estimated $45 million with the Oakland A's before the wear and tear of a career in professional baseball, back taxes, and public divorce left him with a total net worth of $500,000. His ex-wife, Jessica Conseco, was a Hooters waitress when the two met in 1996 but has since gone on to become a sought-after plastic surgeon, television expert, and author. Their three-year marriage ended in 1999 under a cloud of domestic abuse charges, and more recently, an accusation that Jessica was having an affair with Alex Rodriguez — engaged to superstar Jennifer Lopez at the time — in a 2019 Twitter rant. This accusation was denied by Jessica Conseco in a response on Twitter, now X.


In a 2021 Vlad TV interview, Conseco points to the $7 million he paid out in two separate divorce settlements, one to Jessica Conseco and the other to his former wife, as factors in an eventual bankruptcy that led to his lowest point of living in a garage with $20 in his pocket.

Andre Agassi

Tennis champion Andre Agassi and American supermodel Brooke Shields were wed in 1997 before filing for divorce in 1999. While the reasons for the divorce are still unclear, Shields is quoted as saying Agassi's last words to her, "Be happy that we don't have children or I would not have made this easy for you," are demonstrative of her reasons for asking for the divorce. Shields also recounted how Agassi destroyed his Wimbledon and US Open trophies in a jealous rage after seeing a scene from the popular '90s TV show "Friends" in which Shields plays a stalker who licks one of the main characters' hands. This situation and his resulting behavior were confirmed by Agassi himself in his autobiography "Open," published in 2009.


The cost of this settlement rose to $130 million in assets, with Agassi still coming out ahead in the long run with a current estimated net worth of $175 million to Shield's current $20 million.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is known for what he has accomplished both inside and outside of the boxing ring. Unfortunately, that also includes a high-profile divorce from actress Robin Givens, a few years before the financial peak of his boxing career when his net worth was estimated to be anywhere between $300 million to $685 million. His current net worth of $10 million, which is still nothing to sneeze at. Tyson was just two years into his career when he and Givens met and married, and by the time they divorced seven months later, was already worth about $50 million.


So how much did Tyson's divorce cost him? Allegations of mental and physical abuse, including claims of being tricked into the marriage, led to Givens to seek a divorce. Tyson didn't have a prenuptial agreement with Givens, and the settlement included jewelry, cash, vehicles, and a $4 million mansion, speculated to be valued in total at around $10 million. However, Givens maintains she never saw a single penny.

Lance Armstrong

Record-breaking, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and ex-wife Kristin Richards met in 1997, married the following year, and stuck together through Armstrong's battle with testicular cancer. By 2003, the marriage had soured, and the two parted ways with Kristin taking $14 million. As bad as that sounds, this not a detrimental hit. At that time in his career, Armstrong was a sought after sports celebrity still earning a rumored $20 million a year from speaking engagements and endorsements. However, this wasn't the end of Armstrong's financial troubles by a long shot since he would later go on to be caught up in a doping scandal that lost him all his endorsements — to the tune of $75 million — and a $5 million out of court settlement with the U.S. Federal government, which could have cost him another $100 million if it had made it to court.


Don't cry too much for Armstrong, however, who is worth $50 million today thanks to wise investments in a cafe, bike shop, sports equipment, and $100,000 venture capital investment in Uber during its early days.

Dennis Rodman

The wildman of basketball, Dennis Rodman, was worth an estimated $27 million by the end of his career as a three-time NBA champion with the Michael Jordan- and Scottie Pippen-led Chicago Bulls. Just before he retired from the game, he met and married his third ex-wife Michelle Moyer, with whom he had two children and neglected to make child support payments for almost a decade. Rodman and Moyer's marriage ended in 2004, just one year after their 2003 nuptials.


In 2012, Rodman was found in contempt of court, ordered to pay $500,000 in unpaid child support for his two children, and was cautioned he might be put behind bars by the Orange County Superior Court Commissioner if he failed to do so. Rodman had previously been slapped on the wrist with an order of 104 hours of community service for four counts of not paying child support in 2009 and 2010. Rodman learned the hard way how much it costs to have a baby in the U.S., which is about $250,000 more if you're Dennis Rodman.

Hulk Hogan aka Terry Gene Bollea

The Hulkster, whose government name is Terry Gene Bollea, is arguably the first global superstar of wrestling and was worth about $30 million at the time of his divorce in 2009. His ex-wife Linda Hogan received a settlement that amounted to over 70% of Bollea's assets, including their $3 million property, almost half the ownership of his company, and $7.44 million in a joint investment portfolio. If that wasn't enough, the divorce caused him to sell many of his assets, including cars and homes, while his cleaned out portfolio left him with just shy of $3 million dollars in investments.


Adding insult to injury is the fact that Bollea only found out about the divorce — which came about as the natural result of his wife learning that the Hulk was entangling his 24-inch pythons around his daughter's best friend — after it was broken as a news story by the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. Perhaps not to be outdone by her ex-husband, Linda Hogan proceeded to date a 19-year-old who went to the same high school as her daughter, Brooke. Talk about a costly divorce.

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is another baseball heavy hitter who earned his fame on the New York Yankees as a 14-time All-Star before leaving baseball in 2016. Rodriguez met his ex-wife Cynthia Scurtis in Miami in the late '90s, married her, and ended up on the wrong side of marriage after Scurtis accused Rodriguez of having an affair with Madonna, which the pop icon has denied. The denial didn't stop Scurtis from pursuing divorce, and a previous accusation of cheating with a stripper who herself outed Rodriguez as having an affair with her prior to the Madonna allegation probably had something to do with that.


Scurtis was awarded $115,000 a month in child and spousal support, which A-Rod tried to reduce to $20,000 per month based on a post-retirement income adjustment that lowered his $30 million professional baseball salary to $3 million. While Rodriguez claimed Scurtis had become wealthy herself with three homes, several vehicles, and no shortage of money, she pushed back with claims that A-Rod asked her not to pursue a career — Scurtis holds a master's degree in psychology — so that she could focus her attention on raising their two kids. Regardless of whether Rodriguez was able to get his payments reduced or not, this divorce was costly for him.

Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield is a heavyweight boxing champion with a claim to fame for beating Mike Tyson in the ring, even after Tyson bit part of his ear off for allegedly headbutting him during the match. That said, Holyfield hasn't been as successful in marriage, or in finances as a result of those marriages. This is a case of three separate marriages, his first to Paulette Powen, second to Janice Itson, and third to Candi Calvana Smith, racking up millions of dollars in divorce settlements and child support payments, ultimately leading to the foreclosure of his $10 million mansion and the sale of all his boxing memorabilia.


Thanks to bad investments in failed businesses, including a $3.1 million restaurant and a record company, child support for 11 different children, and alimony for three wives, Holyfield has gone from an estimated fortune of $200 million to a monthly income of around $100,000 in speaking engagements.

Ric Flair aka Richard Morgan Fliehr

Richard Morgan Fliehr, known in the ring as "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, is another living legend in the world of professional wrestling entertainment. His trademark "Woo!" and flamboyant presence are so meme-worthy that he's spawned numerous posts and social media pages like @nocontextRicFlair, boasting hundreds of thousands of loyal followers. However, that wild persona didn't help him with marriages to Leslie Goodman, Elizabeth Harrell, Tiffany VanDemark, Jacqueline Beems, and Wendy Barlow, which all ended on top of over $1 million in debt from failed ventures, unpaid creditors, and poor financial management — and that's before the divorces. This track record of financial illiteracy is just one of many money red flags to look out for in a partner that any one of these women probably wished they had noticed before marrying Fliehr.


In a quote from an interview on The Joe Rogan Podcast, Ric Flair details why he came out of retirement by saying, "$2 million in alimony and $2 million in attorney fees, and $1.5 million in penalties and interest."

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal was the big man on the basketball court whose outsized personality matched his oversized body. It also matched his huge divorce settlement. An 11-year marriage to Shaunie O'Neal officially ended in 2011 after a first filing in 2007, with divorce proceedings happening in Florida rather than California, where Shaunie O'Neal resided. This is important because the state of California demands ex-spouses split half their assets irrespective of any prenuptial agreements, which would have left Shaq about $200 million dollars poorer.


All that said, Shaq wasn't exactly stingy in his agreed-upon settlement with his ex-wife, even though there was a prenup in place before their divorce. The divorce cost Shaq $33 million in property, $50,000 in monthly alimony, and $10,000 per month in child support. Speaking candidly about the dissolution of his marriage on The Pivot Podcast, Shaq is quoted as saying "She did exactly what she was supposed to do and gave me beautiful kids, take (sic) care of the house, take (sic) care of the corporate stuff. It was just all me."

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson was an NBA superstar at the highest point of his career who commanded hefty contracts and lucrative endorsements. According to Gameday News, although Iverson was around $200 million richer by the end of his career, a gambling and alcohol addiction, including rising debt to various casinos, quickly chipped away at that fortune. At the lowest point of his marriage, his then wife, Tawanna Iverson, was forced to sell some of her assets, including an 8.7-carat diamond ring. This was the beginning of the end. During a particularly nasty initial divorce proceeding, after Iverson claimed not to have enough money to buy a cheeseburger, Tawanna handed the NBA legend $61. A postnuptial agreement saved the marriage at the time, stipulating Iverson would need to get addiction therapy and marriage counseling, and not verbally or physically abuse his wife or otherwise forfeit the agreement. Long story short, by 2013, Iverson had failed to keep that agreement, and the divorce was finalized.


Iverson was made to pay $3 million in alimony and child support, a few assets, and a percentage of his Reebok endorsement money. That percentage was initially 100% based on the postnuptial agreement Iverson didn't follow, however, his ex-wife took pity on the former superstar and agreed to leave him with half.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the action hero's action hero, with a history of blockbuster films buoyed by bodybuilding championships adding to his colossal wealth. With a net worth of $450 million, almost half of that related to commercial and residential real estate, Schwarzenegger's divorce from Maria Shriver, the catalyst of which was Schwarzenegger's affair with the housekeeper Mildred Baena, was made worse by the fact he had also impregnated his employee.


As there was no prenup in place, as per California State law which dictates an equal 50/50 division of assets, Shriver was awarded half of Schwarzenegger's assets from the span of their marriage beginning in 1986 to its official ending in 2011. This includes his retirement funds and pension. While the exact amount of the settlement was undisclosed, considering what we know about Schwarzenegger's finances, it's safe to say this is a divorce settlement likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Arnie may have made a lucrative onscreen career out of playing the invincible action hero, but offscreen, his finances were far from bulletproof.

Michael Strahan

As per The List, retired NFL football player and daytime talk show host Michael Strahan made $76 million over the life of his athletic career and currently makes about $20 million annually from his hosting duties for ABC News. A prenuptial agreement did nothing to protect Strahan from a nasty divorce from his ex-wife Jean Muggli, who was awarded $15.3 million in alimony and $18,000 in child support every month back in 2006. In just two years, the couple were back in court over Muggli's assertion Strahan owed $311,150 in unpaid support based on their prenup agreement stipulating that 50% of the couple's joint assets and 20% of Strahan's income would be paid to her upon divorce. Strahan must not have made a convincing argument for himself and was ordered to pay up. Even though the initial $18,000 in child support was reduced to $13,000 after Strahan retired from football, that's still pricey for a rich guy who actually had a prenuptial agreement in place.


Muggli dragged Strahan back into court over what she claimed was $321,654.98 in unpaid child support, with interest that would raise that amount to $547,000. Muggli also requested child support go up to $18,378.66 and that he reimburse her about $225,401 for their twin children's horseback riding.

Tiger Woods

Without a doubt, the costliest divorce in sports history to date goes to Tiger Woods, the record-shattering Golf superstar and, to his financial detriment, ladies man. Ex-wife Elin Nordegren was a swimsuit model and nanny when she began dating Woods about three years before marrying him in 2004. The couple had two children together, and everything seemed like wedded bliss until Nordegren found out about Woods numerous dalliances with over a dozen women in 2009.


The divorce netted Nordegren $100 million of Woods' estimated $600 million fortune — not including $20,000 per month in child support — which was 20% of his net worth at the time. Since then, Nordegen has continued to do well for herself, doubling that $100 million alimony into a $200 million net worth through shrewd business investments, including large real estate deals that netted her over $30 million for a two bedroom condo and an 18,000-square-foot home in Juno and North Palm Beach, Florida, respectively.