From LeBron James to Jordy Nelson, the surprisingly frugal ways 5 athletes spend their multimillion-dollar paychecks

A few famous greats don't spend like ballers.

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A few famous greats don’t spend like ballers.
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

  • Athletes are notorious for wasting outrageous sums of money.
  • But some players – like LeBron James – are surprisingly stringent with their cash.
  • One football player drives a 26-year-old car, while one baseball player lives in a 1978 van.

Athletes are known for wasting outrageous sums of money almost as much as they are for playing sports.

But a few famous greats don’t spend like ballers. In fact, some athletes earn multimillion-dollar salaries but are actually careful with their incomes.

Below, learn more about five athletes who are surprisingly frugal with their money.


Jordy Nelson

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The days where professional athletes need to bring in a second income during the off-season are over. But Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson does it anyway.

When he’s not grabbing touchdowns at Lambeau Field, Nelson can be found on his family farm in Kansas. He herds cattle and spends 12 hours a day in the field helping his parents earn a living.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Nelson’s father said his son flies into Milwaukee and drives to Green Bay because it is cheaper than direct flights. About his son’s home, the elder Nelson said, “It’s got junk equipment, trees that need trimming … he’s not going to hire somebody to do it.”

Farmer first, the star makes around $9.7 million a year as a football player.


LeBron James

The king of basketball doesn’t seem like an obvious person to be tight-fisted with his money, especially after he just bought a $23 million house.

But King James’ former teammate and good friend Dwayne Wade claims he is “the cheapest guy in the NBA” because he hesitates to pay for mobile data or a premium music service.

While traveling from city to city, James admitted, he only uses WiFi. LeBron also listens to his music for free on Pandora. He doesn’t seem to mind when an ad plays between songs while the team is prepping for game time.


Alfred Morris

The wealthiest athletes usually zoom around town in Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Hard-hitting Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris drives Bentley.

No, not a Bentley, the luxury car. Bentley is the name of his beloved 1991 Mazda 626, which he bought for $2. In 2013, he splurged to fix up the old sedan.

The former Washington Redskin is no longer at the top of the sport, but he still does well for himself, earning a $1.2 million annual base salary.


Trey Burke

A millionaire doesn’t need to stick to a $5,000 a month budget, but Westchester Knicks sharpshooter Trey Burke does anyway.

He grew up in a working-class family and hired financial managers when he made the pros, The Deseret News reported in 2014. The NBA has an extensive training program for young players to learn fiscal restraint, and Burke’s old team, the Utah Jazz, contributed extra guidance.

Burke displays great discipline by sticking to his monthly allotment as much as possible even though he could afford much more.


Daniel Norris

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Some athletes own many houses and apartments, but Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris has none.

Known as “Van Man,” Norris purchased a 1978 Westfalia Volkswagen for $10,000 after signing his first professional contract. As ESPN reported, Norris lives in the van and shaves his scraggly beard with an axe.

Following in the footsteps of his frugal father and grandfather, the cancer survivor lives well below his means even now that he is an established Major League pitcher earning an annual base salary of $545,500 this year.