While motorsports might not be everyone’s cup of tea, NASCAR is still a major player in the sports business world. Dale Earnhardt Jr., in particular, reaped the rewards of that reality; as one of the sport’s most popular stars, he turned his talent and name recognition into a massive net worth. When he joined Hendrick Motorsports, however, he literally refused to look at his salary. In Junior’s mind, he didn’t feel like he was worthy of the big bucks.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed potential before joining Hendrick Motorsports
These days, it’s virtually impossible to imagine NASCAR without Dale Earnhardt Jr. The driver, however, didn’t always seem destined for motorsports stardom.
Growing up, Junior didn’t even plan on being a race car driver; he earned an automotive degree and started working as a mechanic in his father’s dealership. Eventually, though, he came to realize that racing would allow him to form a relationship with ‘the Intimidator.’
Once he did get behind the wheel, though, Junior showed plenty of talent. He joined the Busch Series in 1996 and quickly won two championships; Earnhardt Jr. also made the leap to the Cup Series, bursting onto the scene in 2000.
Despite those early successes, though, Dale Jr. still wasn’t giving his all to racing. As he later explained in a conversation with Graham Bensinger, he spent plenty of time partying and playing Madden. “I did about 80% of what I think I was capable of if I really buckled down and went full-on ‘nothing matters but racing,” he admitted.
Refusing to look at his Hendrick Motorsports salary
During the summer of 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he was leaving DEI to join Hendrick Motorsports. When he signed on the dotted line, though, Junior refused to look at his salary.
“When I got my first contract from Rick [Hendrick], I refused to look at the base salary numbers and all the percentages,” Junior explained on his podcast, according to For The Win. “I didn’t want to know any of that stuff because I’ve had a hard time in my life sort of feeling worthy of things and worthy of moments and accomplishments and appreciation.”
In Junior’s mind, it was simply easier to climb behind the wheel and race without knowing the finer points of the financials.
“So that was a situation where I was like, ‘[Hendrick] and [Earnhardt’s sister] Kelley handle that. I don’t want to even know what it is. It’s gonna stick in my head.’ So I’ve always felt overappreciated I guess – or whatever you wanna call that.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth is massive, even in retirement
Even if he didn’t know the exact details of his salary, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth confirms one thing: he didn’t have any problem making money.
While he never reached the same heights as his famous father in terms of on-track results, Earnhardt Jr. still had quite the NASCAR career. He won 26 Cup Series races, including two Daytona 500s, and, perhaps more importantly, was named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver 15 times.
Thanks in large part to that massive popularity, Junior had no problem scoring big-time endorsement deals and building up a $300 million net worth. That number should only keep growing in retirement; in addition to co-owning JR Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr. seems to be pretty at home in the media world.
At the end of the day, though, it seems like the sheer size of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth hasn’t been lost on him. While he might have once had difficulty believing that he was worthy of success, he’s now come to see how lucky he really was.
“I’ve been blown away by what I’ve made,” he added, “what kind of lifestyle this has provided for me. It’s more than I ever dreamed, right?”