Professional athletes can begin to think they are invincible in both their professional and personal lives. In the first case, it is often injury that brings them back down to Earth. In the second case, it is often a divorce.
It is not uncommon for pro athletes to pay millions of dollars to their ex-wives, and in some high-profile cases, many millions. Consider these divorces that took a serious bite out of some athletes' fortunes.
Michael Jordan – Jordan's divorce tops the list of athletes' divorces as of this writing. He and his ex-wife Juanita married in 1989, but after allegations of Michael's infidelity, Juanita filed for divorce. Their split was finalized in 2007, landing Juanita a divorce settlement of $168 million.
Greg Norman – The Australian golfer known as "The Shark" gave up $104 million in the divorce settlement with his wife of 25 years, Laura Andrassy, in a tale of love gone awry over and over again. Norman left his wife to begin a relationship with former tennis star Chris Evert, who was married to Norman's friend, downhill skier Andy Mill. Norman and Evert ended their marriages, got married, and then separated and divorced 15 months later. That’s three athletes, and three divorces! Evert's divorce from Mill reportedly cost her "only" $11 million.
Tiger Woods – Woods had it all, but his marital infidelities sent him tumbling from not only the top of the golfing world, but also from his status as a beloved public figure and role model. The subsequent fallout cost Woods his marriage to Elin Nordegren, along with a $100 million settlement — but that is not all Woods lost. He lost several prominent sponsors and confidence in his golf game. His game is still a shell of what it once was.
Michael Strahan – The smiling Strahan can be seen regularly on Live! with Kelly and Michael and on Fox's football coverage, but Strahan probably was not smiling in 2006 when he had to hand over $15 million plus an ongoing $18,000 per month in child support to his ex-wife Jean Muggli.
Lance Armstrong – Another case of a beloved and revered figure who suffered a fall from grace — in Armstrong's case, from doping allegations that he finally had to admit were true. Armstrong has proven to be less than a role model in multiple ways since then. One example is Armstrong's dumping of his wife Kristin to start a relationship with singer Sheryl Crow. That cost him $14 million in the divorce settlement.
Alex Rodriguez – Is anybody sensing a theme of nice guys that turn out to be not so nice after all? Yankees legend A-Rod split from his wife Cynthia in 2008 after five years of marriage, with Cynthia claiming infidelities and emotional abandonment. A relationship with Madonna was one of the most well-known A-Rod rumors. The terms were private, but in the divorce petition, Cynthia asked for their $12 million Coral Gables estate and "equitable distribution" of assets during the five-year marriage. We are sure that turned out to be millions more.
Nick Faldo – The golfer claimed his third wife Valerie was "The One," but unfortunately she turned out to be "Another One." Faldo's split from his third wife Valerie cost him $11.8 million dollars.
Terry Bollea – Who? You know him better as Hulk Hogan, ba-rother! Bollea split with his wife Linda in a settlement that cost him more than $10 million. Linda received 70% of liquid assets, 40% ownership of Bollea's various companies, and $3 million in property.
The moral of the story: Just because you are a highly successful athlete does not mean you will be highly successful in marriage. In some cases, it is spectacularly the opposite. Perhaps they should offer a course on pre-nups in the minor leagues.
Photo of Tiger Woods by Tiger Woods drives by Allison.jpg: Keith Allison derivative work: Muhammad (Tiger Woods drives by Allison.jpg) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Tim Hipps, Special to American Forces Press Service, U.S. Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.