“I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger.” It’s hard to imagine these words coming out of Allen Iverson’s mouth when you realize he made over $200 million in his NBA career. Luckily, there was a top-secret Allen Iverson clause, but more on that later.
Allen Iverson was a star the moment he stepped foot on an NBA court. As the first overall pick in the 1996 draft, he waltzed onto the floor for his first game as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and dropped 30 points on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Allen Iverson clause
It’s a sad reality knowing Iverson – the man who would go on to lead the Sixers to an NBA Finals – would end up begging for enough change to buy that burger.
But Iverson never had issues making money. His struggles arose when it was time to manage his money. Iverson’s monthly expenses included $10,000 on clothes, $10,000 on restaurants, and more than $10,000 on groceries. Which begs the question, how do you spend the same amount of cash on groceries as restaurants?
The answer is: his entourage. Allen Iverson would take care of his crew, which ballooned to as many as 50 people on a generous day. Iverson had complete trust in his squad but seemingly none in banks. He was known to store his cash in dozens of garbage bags scattered across his mansion. His generosity wasn’t enough for his entourage as occasionally a garbage bag or two of cash would mysteriously go missing.
Iverson blew through a lot of money, cars
Iverson actively made his life too expensive. Just ask Matt Barnes, who said A.I. used to drop $30,000 to 40,000 at strip clubs so frequently that Barnes himself used to scoop and rethrow some of his bills.
Perhaps the most classic example of Iverson’s fiscal irresponsibility is his trip to the airport. He infamously landed and forgot where his car was parked. In typical Iverson fashion, he abandoned the search and rerouted to the dealership to purchase a brand-new car.
This wasn’t the only time Iverson was careless with his vehicles. Iverson authored a Player’s Tribune article in 2018 and recalled a conversation with former teammate Larry Hughes.
Hughes was admiring Iverson’s Bentley and said, “Yo….. AI. I have to get me one of these.” Iverson responded by saying, “‘Bro, you can have mine.” For reference, the starting price for a Bentley is roughly $200,000.
In 2011, Iverson got his Lamborghini Murcielago impounded after failing to provide proof of ownership to the police. According to the New York Daily News, Iverson lashed out at the officers and said: “I will make more than you will in 10 years. Do you know who I am? Take the vehicle, I have 10 more!”
Allen Iverson’s NBA career ended in 2010 and his $200 million in earnings were drained by 2012. His bank account boiled over when he was unable to pay a $900,000 debt to a jeweler in Georgia. He subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
Allen Iverson's Reebok lifeline
Luckily, Reebok stacked Iverson’s deck. His 2001 deal is arguably the most unique sports endorsement contract of all-time. The lifetime deal included a payment structure of $800,000 per year and a $32 million trust for Iverson that he’ll gain access to in the year 2030.
Drama aside, Iverson is still a cultural phenomenon, and his name held enough strength to attract offers elsewhere. In 2012, the New York Rochester Lancers of the Major Indoor Soccer League offered Iverson $20,000 a game with a $5,000 bonus for every goal he scores. Despite widespread reporting of his financial woes, Iverson addressed the rumors in 2015.
Then in 2023, Reebok and Iverson came together once again. This time, Reebok made Iverson vice president of Reebok basketball. The president is Shaquille O'Neal, who has proven to be an adept businessman with investments in restaurants and fitness centers among numerous other things.
A second chance like this is entirely unprecedented for professional athletes. Plus by 2030, Iverson will have more than enough money to live out a comfortable retirement.
The only question is, will his financial management skills be any different his second time around? Hopefully, Shaq can give him some good advice.