Terrell Owens Illustrates “Income” vs. “Wealth”

Terrell Owens is a football celebrity who has earned millions over his 15 year career as a receiver.  He has made more than $30M in salaries over that time and also had endorsement opportunities due to his high profile.

In a recent video Terrell Owens describes his financial predicament due to the NFL lockout.  Here is a link to the video, where he apparently sheds a tear.

In the video, Terrell is calling his “financial advisor” who apparently hasn’t been returning his calls.  Terrell can’t see his statements, and is confused by his low credit score.

You can’t tell what is “made for TV” and what is reality, but even the least web-savvy person knows how to get to their account balances online.  And your credit score is easily found; you can get a credit report for free from each of the major agencies to check any blemishes and anytime you buy a car or apply for a major purchase you usually also have the opportunity to see your score (if you ask). This type of behavior is sad and reflects a very low level of financial literacy.

Then Terrell talks about his “predicament”.  With the NFL lockout he has “no income” and yet he has “mortgages to pay” on his real estate as well as child support payments.

Note that this is an individual who has earned over $30M in his lifetime, along with other endorsement and income opportunities that are available to a high profile public figure.  He has had many opportunities to receive and re-invest this money, which should be making him MORE money today.

He has had the opportunity to build a large net worth position, meaning cash in the bank or hard assets (land, equity in a house, or financial assets like stocks or bonds), but he obviously hasn’t done this, because the minute his “income” stream is done, he is unable to remain current on his bills.

Terrell’s position isn’t hard for the financially literate to understand, but it is lost on him and most professional athletes, who often end up broke or bankrupt after they stop playing the game.  This site, called “Celebrity Net Worth”, also completely misses the point.  I don’t know how they attempt to calculate net worth, but they appear to show lifetime earnings and current earnings instead and they assume that Terrell has maintained this money, not spent it.  Obviously it is ALL spent because he is unable even to make child support payments of $5000 / month, which would be a drop in the bucket if he had retained even one years’ salary after taxes in the bank.

It is possible that one of these portfolios (at trust funds for kids) would provide someone a higher NET WORTH than Terrell Owens, at $20,000.  That is a profoundly sad statement, since Terrell does not seem to be stupid and he has gotten knocked around plenty in 15 years of NFL football, and has NOTHING to show for it.

It isn’t what you make, it is what you save, which is a function of 1) not spending it on consumables 2) not paying for the bills of your hangers-on 3) not paying for your kids out of wedlock or for ex-wives 4) not paying “managers” large fees while remaining personally ignorant 5) not investing in businesses with your friends, especially if they have a limited or non-existent professional track record.  Terrell Owens probably fails all of these items.

And someone should re-name “celebrity net worth” something like “celebrity lifetime earnings”.  They are NOT one and the same, as Terrell illustrates.

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