Former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling made over $115 million during his 20-year career. Three years after he retired, however, Schilling lost it all. Not from gambling like John Daly or lavish purchases like Mike Tyson, but from a video game.
Curt Schilling started a video game company in 2006
As Schilling neared the end of his MLB career, he decided to put a plan in place for life after baseball. His goal was to build the biggest video game company the world has ever seen — and to get filthy rich in the process. Schilling already earned more than $115 million from his baseball career, but he wanted Bill Gates money.
Schilling founded 38 Studios in 2006, three years before his official retirement from baseball. After calling it quits in 2009, Schilling began to sink his life — and his wallet — into 38 Studios. He originally put up $50 million of his own assets to start the company. Other investors chipped in a total of $5 to $10 million, but the bulk of the funding came from a $75 million guaranteed loan from the state of Rhode Island.
38 Studios released its first video game, titled “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” in 2012. The game actually received stellar reviews upon release, but it ended up being the only game 38 Studios would ever release. A few months later, Schilling’s company went bankrupt.
38 Studios goes bankrupt in 2012
Even though 38 Studios found success with its first video game, the company’s employees stopped getting paid in May of 2012. A few weeks later, they were all informed via e-mail they no longer had a job. Schilling’s company was bankrupt.
Schilling lost his entire $50 million investment along with the $75 million in Rhode Island taxpayer money.
“I put everything in my name in this company, and I believed in what we built,” Schilling said. I never took a penny in salary, I never took a penny for anything.”
Schilling might not have taken a penny from the business, but he did lose everything he earned from his lengthy MLB career. After paying back his investors and settling a lawsuit with the state of Rhode Island, Schilling said he was “tapped out.” $115 million down the drain. All for one video game.
Curt Schilling bankrupted more than just himself
Schilling lost his entire fortune in three short years away from baseball, but 38 Studios going bust affected more than just the Red Sox great.
Hundreds of 38 Studios employees were blindsided by the collapse. Schilling was so ill-prepared for a shutdown that he couldn’t provide employees with the benefits they deserved. Some saw their healthcare evaporate and their 401(k)s freeze. A few people were even notified they were back on the hook for their old house’s mortgages because the company 38 Studios hired to sell them failed to do so.
With no job, rent due, and now an old mortgage to cover, hard-working people struggled to pay their bills. Schilling left the company for an ESPN studio gig while the 38 Studios employees were left to fend for themselves.
ESPN got Schilling back on his feet for the time being, but he would never reclaim the fortune professional baseball supplied him. Schilling said telling his family about the company’s demise was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.
“[I told them] 38 Studios was probably going to fail and go bankrupt, and that the money that I had earned and saved during baseball was probably all gone,” Schilling said. “And that it was my fault, and that they might start hearing some things in school and things like that. And let’s be clear: We’re not talking about a terminal illness or somebody dying. But it’s a life-changing thing. It’s not a conversation I would wish on any father, or on anybody.”