Even though he doesn’t play in a media hotbed, basketball fans around the globe still know all about Giannis Antetokounmpo. During his time with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Greek Freak has established himself as both an incredible athlete and a legitimate talent. That combination has, unsurprisingly, helped him earn a massive NBA contract.
Although Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract will pay $228 million over the course of five years, the forward wasn’t always rolling in dough. In fact, during his early days in the NBA, he’d even split the bill at McDonald’s.
Giannis Antetokounmpo moved to America and became one of the NBA’s brightest stars
For the most part, NBA stars follow a similar path: they show promise in high school, prove themselves in college, and make the leap to the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo, however, did things his own way.
As his nickname would suggest, Giannis grew up in Greece. His early days weren’t a Mediterranean vacation, though; he and his brother helped their parents sell goods on the street and, when they returned home, didn’t always have a great deal of food in the fridge. The Antetokounmpo boys, however, did find solace on the basketball court.
Giannis eventually joined the Filathlitikos organization and, before long, started capturing the attention of scouts. In 2013, he entered the NBA draft and prepared to move to America.
Antetokounmpo joined the Milwaukee Bucks as the 15th-overall pick and landed in Wisconsin as a lanky teenager. Although he only averaged 6.8 points per outing as a rookie, the Greek Freak would quickly live up to his nickname.
Since then, Giannis has grown into his body and refined his skill set; while he’s still not the greatest shooter, he’s an incredible athlete capable of doing almost anything he wants on the court. He’s a two-time NBA MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year-winner, and, has no problem averaging almost 30 points per night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract is also pretty impressive
Whether you like it or not, there’s nothing too surprising about a professional athlete earning millions of dollars for playing a children’s game. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract extension, however, was nothing short of massive.
During the brief 2020 offseason, Giannis’s potential contract towered over the NBA landscape. If he signed on the dotted line, the Milwaukee Bucks would have kept their biggest star and kept their hopes of building a championship contender alive; if he declined, it would set the stage for a free agency feeding frenzy.
The Greek Freak, however, chose to stay with the only franchise he’d ever known; that loyalty was, of course, rewarded with a massive payday. According to Spotrac’s numbers, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract will pay out a little over $228 million over five years. By the time it runs its course, the forward will have earned more than $335 million in the pros.
The Greek Freak used to split the bill, even at McDonald’s
When he first arrived in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract paid him $8.6 million over three years. While that’s a massive sum of money for most people, the Greek Freak didn’t want to spend it all in one place.
As Lee Jenkins explained in a 2017 Sports Illustrated feature, Giannis struck up a relationship with Bucks’ assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger. “Geiger lent him his maroon Subaru Outback Legacy,” Jenkins wrote. “Geiger was Antetokounmpo’s best friend in Milwaukee, the one who oversaw his graduation from EDM to hip-hop, and instructed him on which lyrics he could sing in public and which he could not.”
The two men would also eat together. Despite making millions of dollars, Antetokounmpo refused to pick up the tab, even at the least formal of all restaurants.
“But when they ate dinner, even at McDonald’s, Antetokounmpo insisted on splitting the bill,” Jenkins recounted. “Either he didn’t comprehend how much more he earned than a video guy, or he couldn’t bear to part with the cash.”
Admittedly, both Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status and financial portfolio have grown quite a bit since the Sports Illustrated story was written. Hopefully, he’s taken Geiger out to dinner—and footed the bill—since then.