Biggest Gambling Defeats Suffered By Sports Stars

By Julia Krotova
March 03, 2019

There’s no denying that sports stars are the recipients of some rather sizeable paychecks, making the industry one of the most prosperous across the world. Whether that be playing football, golf or basketball, there’s no apparent end to the embarrassment of riches sport athletes can earn.

So what do you do with all that moolah after you’ve bought your dream mansion and a fleet of sports cars? Some opt to invest in other businesses and seek new ventures, whereas others can donate large chunks of their salary to charity. However, some sports stars just can’t resist a punt (typically on other sporting outcomes, but occasionally also at casinos and at the poker tables) and if they win or lose, you can guarantee it’ll be a sizeable amount of money changing hands. Chances are, you’ve read about sports stars landing big wins but what about those who lose? Let’s take a peek at some of the biggest gambling losses in recent times.

sports betting poker

Alex Rodriguez

He is easily one of the most recognisable names in Major League Baseball, yet Alex Rodriguez appeared to have  major gambling problems as well. The former New York Yankees star came under scrutiny in 2005 and 2011, after reports emerged of him partaking in underground poker games. It’s not clear what his total losses actually were but during one game, it is known that he lost $105,000.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the NBA’s best-ever player, and he was a dab hand when it comes to all-forms of gambling as well. Jordan is reported to have lost $1.3 million to a friend whilst playing golf over a 10-day period, although he only coughed up $300k. Elsewhere, he’s lost money betting on rock-paper-scissors, poker and blackjack. His casino activities were highly publicised throughout his career, and you can try your hand at landing a nice profit with Betfair casino’s online version.

Michael Chopra

Granted, Michael Chopra isn’t one of the biggest sports stars in the world but his gambling losses hit the headlines throughout his career. In 2011, BBC Sport confirmed that the former footballer lost £2 million during his heyday and he was wagering up to £20k per-day. Chopra has tried to treat and control his addictions but his overall losses are staggering.

Wayne Rooney

He is one of the most iconic football players of the modern era, yet Wayne Rooney is partial to a large punt or two. The former Everton and Manchester United hero was reported to have lost £500k at his own casino, and even lost £690,000 on sweepstakes. Although, it’s just a drop in the ocean as he is worth upwards of $160 million.

John Daly

Golf star John Daly is no stranger when it comes to gambling, having lost a reported $50 million so far. ESPN’s documentary ‘Hit it Hard’ revealed the true extent of Daly’s habits, and his honesty about the situation was most admirable. Daly was not adverse to poker and slot machines either, with a reported $20 million of his losses coming from casinos.


There are a number of lessons we can learn from the above sports stars gambling experiences. A key takeaway is to never risk more money than you can afford. Even multimillionaires have their limits when it comes to wagering chips at gaming tables. Another is that the more fame you’ve earned as a sports star, the more critical an eye the public will take to your gambling splurges. For the overwhelming majority of us, wins and losses at the poker felt or in casinos and sports books is of no interest to anyone else. But when you’re a major sporting figure, it’s a different story altogether.



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Julia Krotova poker author
Written By.

Julia Krotova

Julia is a freelance writer with an affinity for poker. She plays in the occasional home game in the UK with her gal pals for low stakes and is an avid fan of free-to-play online poker games.


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