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5 Controversial Athletes Who Were Wealthy Long Before Sports Fame

peyton manning, broncos, football

Photo Credit: Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock.com

While many of the world’s highest-paid athletes weren’t raised in affluent households, a few of them lived well before ever hitting the big time. Oftentimes the capital comes from a family of famous sports stars, like football player Peyton Manning, but there are a few who are actually heirs to old money that goes back decades. As much as we would love to say that their bank accounts bought them their careers, you just can’t purchase true talent. That said, pure skill and a privileged upbringing didn't keep these gents from making poor decisions, acting like brats and in one case, committing homicide.

Johnny Manziel
Photo Credit: Black Russian Studio/Shutterstock.com

Johnny Manziel

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Johnny Manziel's great-grandfather was an oil tycoon in the 1930s, making his family independently wealthy—his parents are worth $50 million. Manziel may need that money one day if he gets kicked off his team for his continued poor behavior.

Last year he threw a bottle at a heckler, checked into a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse, was pulled over while driving for fighting with his girlfriend and was also demoted to third string after video evidence of his partying surfaced. Most recently, Fort Worth police answered a disturbance call regarding Manziel and his ex-girlfriend, which led to a statement from Sashi Brown (the executive vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns): "We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field. Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization. His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules.”

Oscar Pistorius
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Oscar Pistorius

Nicknamed Blade Runner, South African spring runner Oscar Pistorius first hit the news when in 2012, he became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics. Born in Johannesburg, the star’s family holds money that dates back to a 1944 limestone mine owned by his grandfather Hendrick. Hendrik Pistorius & Co is still a big player in the processing, mining, marketing and distributing of limestone, and the family holds 100 percent interest in 10 companies through it. According to several news sites, Hendrick and his sons own 120 businesses between them.

The athlete became famous for something entirely unrelated to sports when on Valentine’s Day in 2013, he fatally shot his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The following year, he was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison (plus a concurrent three-year sentence for reckless endangerment), though in 2015 he was released and given house arrest. His case is still pending and Pistorius heads back to the courts in April 2016 to find out if his homicide conviction will be updated to murder. 

Gerard Piqué
Photo Credit: mooinblack/Shutterstock.com

Gerard Piqué

Gerard Piqué may be worth $40 million now, but the center-back lived a charmed life before becoming a soccer star on the Barcelona team. His father is a businessman, his mother was a hospital director, and oh yeah, his grandfather Amador Bernabeu used to be the vice president of Barcelona. Though Piqué seems to lead a pretty clean lifestyle with his partner Shakira and their two sons, he has recently gotten into trouble with the European soccer federation for his outspoken tweets directed at rival team, Real Madrid. 

Mike Comrie, hilary duff
Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com

Mike Comrie

Before Mike Comrie retired from professional ice hockey in 2012, he played with the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Though he was successful and received many awards, his money doesn’t come from hockey at all. The former NHL player’s father and uncles founded The Brick furniture company that they sold in 2012 for $700 million. Clearly the $2.5 million he just scored from Hilary Duff after finalizing their divorce isn’t needed to keep the heir rolling in money. 

Peyton Manning
Photo Credit: carrie-nelson/Shutterstock.com

Peyton Manning

The son of Archie Manning, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the 32nd highest-paid athlete in the world, earning around $27 million a year in endorsements and salary. Boasting a much better career than his dad, who was the former New Orleans Saints signal-caller, Manning is a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player who is hoping to add another win to his roster at Super Bowl 50.

Manning has had his fair share of questionable actions. Like in 1996 when he was a student at the University of Tennessee and allegedly sexually harassed a female trainer. She accused him of exposing his backside and testicles while she was treating his foot, which resulted in a suit against the college that was settled for $300,000. It’s clear that Manning can’t let things go, because he brought the scandal back into the limelight with the 2000 release of Manning: A Father, His Sons, and a Football Legacy, a book he wrote with his dad. He claimed his actions, though inappropriate, were harmless and should have been laughed off. The NFL is also currently checking into allegation that he’s used human growth hormones.

Mila Pantovich

Mila Pantovich lives in San Diego, CA with her cat and two rats. She graduated from California State San Marcos with a degree in Literature and Writing and a minor in Film Studies. She has written for several publications, including San Diego City News and North Park News, and in her spare time writes film reviews for various online publications. A self-prescribed film/book obsessive, she's curren...(Read More)

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