5 Sports Stars Who Were Notorious Gamblers

One of the biggest pitfalls of being one of the most popular athletes in any sport is all the temptations that await when you receive those millions of dollars in a paycheck or signing bonus – drugs, alcohol, women and other luxurious spending without any saving.

Yet one of the most common habits that can ruin the post-sports lives of these athletes is the craving to gamble in an effort to grow their bank account even more. It’s almost as thrilling as being able to take the field of competition and making a big play in front of thousands of screaming fans.

Bruce Yeung / Shutterstock.com

Bruce Yeung / Shutterstock.com

Not everyone has the ability to put up a lot of money on the line at a poker or dice table without risking everything. The thing is that many of these athletes took that risk as if they were playing the penny slots. The following names come from just a few of those stories and they all differ in the types of gambles they took.

Nonetheless, many of them lost everything and went from the most prominent in their respective game to tragic stories that teach people what not to do. The tales of gambling involved in sports moved beyond just someone placing a bet or playing a lot of games of chance. In some cases, entire organizations were involved.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

An interesting thing about one of today’s greatest boxers who has not lost in all of his 49 professional fights – there’s more than one reason why he has the nickname “Money.” Floyd Mayweather, Jr., is considered a surefire lock to have his arm raised in victory, but he’s also known for being a surefire winner in the casino.


There have been times where has posted pictures of betting slips on social media – including a bet on the South Carolina college football team in a 2012 game against Arkansas, in which he won $125,000. Another time, he placed a bet that the Oregon Ducks were going to beat a 7.5-point spread against the Arizona State Sun Devils, which gave him $1 million to take home.

Lance Cpl. Steven H. Posy / Public Domain

Lance Cpl. Steven H. Posy / Public Domain

While he posts pictures of his victories, there are a number of people who question whether he gambles a lot more often than he posts. In addition to that theory, who’s to say he’s always winning on his bets.

There’s an old saying that claims that someone will only tell you about how they win and not how much they lost to get to that point. For all we know, Mayweather may have lost a lot more money than he’s advertised that he’s won at the casino.

Charles Barkley

One of the more dominant big men in the National Basketball Association, Charles Barkley, also had quite the history of gambling problems. In a 2006 story with ESPN, the former Phoenix Sun spoke about how he lost about $10 million to gambling and claims that his agent was helping him try to be able to go out to the casinos regularly to have fun.

He also stated that he didn’t really have a gambling problem – which is something many people who do have a problem tend to say. As the years went on, his addiction got even worse before it got better.

A few years later, it was discovered that he owed a casino in Las Vegas nearly half a million dollars, while also telling people he lost a couple million more in only a few hours at the casino. Now that his debts are repaid, he’s enjoyed a few years of being clear from that addiction.

In the second part of a video interview with Seth Davis of Campus Insiders, we learned that the amount of money he lost may add up to around $30 million. The good news is that it looks like he has cut down on that nasty habit and is back to a much happier place in life – something not a lot of addicted gamblers can say they’ve been able to do.

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