Contracts are not easy to navigate, especially as you get to a higher profile, and the contracts deal with not-so-insignificant sums of money, stipulations, and other legal minutiae. Many athletes must explore and overcome this world of complicated contracts as they rise in the ranks of popularity and status. These contracts have become increasingly complex, and many sports organizations have relied on some athletes’ naivety to persuade them into signing less-than-ideal contracts. Read on to learn about some of the worst contracts ever signed in sports.
Odell Beckham Jr.
One of the star athletes of the NFL today is Odell Beckham Jr. He’s played for the New York Giants and now plays for the Los Angeles Rams, but this transfer didn’t come with the best deal. Beckham signed a contract with the Rams in 2021, a big year for crypto, and to ride this wave of crypto interest, Beckham wanted to get paid his $750,000 in Bitcoin. After the plummet of Bitcoin’s value this year, Beckham’s $750,000 of crypto now comes to about $35,000, less than 10 percent of what he would have if he didn’t get paid in cryptocurrency.
Professional wrestling and the WWE aren’t strangers to making shady contracts that hurt their athletes. One athlete who got a raw deal was Owen Hart. Owen and his brother Bret were both a part of the WWE, which at the time was the WWF, and Bret was a champion. Bret was set to retire and join the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) organization, and the WWE organizers didn’t like that. Traditionally, wrestling scripts their events, but the organizers went off script and had Bret lose his last title match.
Bret went to the WCW, but Owen was still on contract with the WWE. However, Bret was barely used by the WWE, and he eventually passed away, falling to his death after an accident during a wrestling entrance. Part of his contract with the WWE stipulated that they were not responsible for any deaths caused by negligence, but Hart’s family would sue and eventually get awarded $18 million. In the years since the lawsuit, the Hart family continues to sue, contending that the WWE continues to use Hart’s likeness for financial gain when they were responsible for his death.
WWE’s Female Wrestlers
Some other athletes in wrestling whose contracts have hurt them are the female talent in the WWE. It’s no secret that women athletes typically get paid less than their male counterparts, but these usually are from different organizations. The WWE has both male and female wrestlers, and a lot of screen time in recent years gets dedicated to showing these female wrestlers. Despite this, even some of the most popular female wrestlers, like Sasha Banks, are getting paid less than male wrestlers that are nowhere near the top of the fight card.
Likely, some of these players didn’t know the difference between sports lawyers and sports agents, a helpful distinction that would help them avoid the worst contracts in sports history. Without the right representative to help them navigate these complex deals, athletes can end up in unfair situations that are even more difficult to escape. Thankfully, many of these deals have come to light, so newer players can better understand what to avoid and how to get the fair deals they deserve.