Rob Gronkowski has retired.
The five-time Pro Bowler ends his NFL playing days with 7,861 career receiving yards, but that’s nothing compared to the size of his bank account.
The 29-year-old former New England Patriots tight end accrued nearly $54 million in contract earnings over his nine seasons in the NFL, and he exits the league with that mountain of money entirely intact. That’s because Gronkowski decided early on that he would live solely off his endorsement earnings during his playing career and save or invest the rest for retirement.
“(I haven’t) touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money,” Gronkowski wrote in his 2015 memoir, It’s Good to Be Gronk. “I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school.”
It’s an incredibly savvy approach for a pro athlete if they can swing it, as many pros see their savings rapidly disintegrate once their playing career comes to an end. A 2009 report from Sports Illustrated states that 78% of former NFL players go bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement, while an estimated 60% of NBA players go are broke within five years of retirement.
In terms of splurges, Gronk cites a diamond-encrusted chain as his biggest indulgence to date. Saquon Barkley has stated he’ll follow a financial model similar to Gronk’s, and Marshawn Lynch is said to live by the same philosophy. If you’re talented and marketable enough to earn endorsements, it’s a shrewd business move.
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