A quick introduction- My name is Mike, and I’ve been covering the Blue Jackets as a blogger since 2007, when I started up a small personal blog with the purpose of putting my thoughts and opinion out there for discussion with other fans of the team. It was, and remains difficult for me to chat in detail about the team I’ve chose to pledge my allegiance to, as I live way out of the Columbus market. Since 2009 my blog has been part of the SBNation network of sites, and I’ve since been given media credentials from the club.
As a regular reader of Plunged in Debt, you may already know who I am- not from my work covering the Jackets, but rather as Catherine’s “Hubby”.
Catherine and I both have our own respective careers, but we each use blogging as a creative outlet for our passions- personal finance and hockey, respectively. A story broke in November that was pertinent to both of us, a story of a Columbus Blue Jacket player whose personal wealth was mishandled by those he trusted the most, forcing him to declare bankruptcy and sending his personal life into chaos.
Jack Johnson is a leader for Columbus, one of the Jackets’ top defensemen. In his nine-year career he’s earned almost $21 million, and according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, that money is almost all gone.
Most pro athletes hire an agent to oversee their money. In the case of Johnson, his current contract is valued at seven years, $30.5 million. Most athletes don’t have the financial know-how to deal with the finances that you or I deal with day-to-day, let alone the financial responsibilities that come with being a multi-million dollar athlete.
In Johnson’s case, whether he was pressured to or not, in 2008 he fired his agent, giving control of his finances to his parents.
This is where the story takes a turn for the bizarre. He didn’t entrust his wealth to a second-rate agent, or a scheming investor. He entrusted his wealth to his parents- the people he would have never suspected would hurt him.
The opposite was true, however, as his parents almost immediately used his wealth and guaranteed future earnings to take out a series of high-interest loans, from a series of questionable lenders. After a series of unsurprising defaults, the law suits started to pile up. His parents ensured him that everything was under control. Now, he’s bankrupt with his NHL paychecks being garnished before he can touch them. According to Portzline, he’s since cut off all contact with his parents.
Whether you are a pro athlete earning millions of dollars a year, or a career person earning five-to-six figures a year, it’s absolutely essential to closely monitor your own personal wealth. Ensuring that your money is being cared for by accredited professionals will prevent horror stories like Johnson’s from happening.
You’d never think that your own parents would betray you, but Johnson’s case shows that even the people you love and trust the most can lead you to financial ruin if they aren’t trustworthy professionals, and if you don’t take the time to closely monitor what’s happening with your money.
Johnson’s tale is a cautionary one- and it can happen to anybody, from the super-rich to the blue-collar career person. Take the time to become knowledgeable with how basic finances work. Find reputable professionals who will truly take care of you.
In the end, you can sleep well knowing that your hard-earned money is safe, and your life won’t be forever changed by the betrayal of an inexperienced entity with potentially ulterior motives.
Even if it’s family.