How Did O.J. Simpson Make $600,000 While Serving Nine Years in Prison?

Over the last 26 years, O.J. Simpson has made headlines for far different reasons than his Hall of Fame NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. However, it just might be that NFL career that’s kept him from going completely broke when he was in prison and kept his net worth positive despite paying millions in legal fees. So, let’s take a look at O.J. Simpson’s current financial situation, where he is today, and how much money he might have made while incarcerated.

O.J. Simpson played 11 years in the NFL

O.J. Simpson leaving Las Vegas Court before prison sentencing for burglary, robbery, and assault charges
O.J. Simpson leaving Las Vegas Court | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Following his Heisman Trophy-winning season at USC in 1968, O.J. Simpson was taken with the first overall pick in the 1969 NFL-AFL draft by the Buffalo Bills but struggled in his first three years in the pros, averaging just 642 yards per year from 1969 to 1971.

Simpson turned the tide in 1974, rushing for a league-high 1,251 yards. The following year, he became the first player in history to rush for more than 2,000 yards, breaking the threshold by a mere three yards. What makes his season more impressive than those who’ve accomplished the feat since is the fact that there were just 14 games on the schedule back then. He led the league in rushing two of the following three seasons as well.

Injuries limited him to just seven games in 1977, and he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers following the season. He played for two seasons in his hometown before retiring in 1979. In 11 seasons in the NFL, O.J. Simpson rushed for 11,236 yards, the second-highest total in history at the time of his retirement, and still good for 21st on the NFL’s all-time rushing yards list. This led to him being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He served almost nine years in prison for robbery and kidnapping

While he avoided what would have likely been a life sentence after being acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and 25-year-old Ron Goldman, O.J. Simpson couldn’t avoid a stretch behind bars for his role in robbing sports memorabilia agents in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. Charged with multiple felonies, including armed robbery and kidnapping, Simpson was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 33 years in prison.

So, is O.J. Simpson still in prison, or is he free? Well, he’s no longer in prison but isn’t completely free either. He spent just short of the minimum at Lovelock Correctional Center in Las Vegas and was released on parole on October 1, 2017, according to The Guardian. However, during those years of O.J. Simpson in prison, it’s possible that he was still somehow able to make more than $600,000.

O.J. Simpson could have made over $600,000 while in prison from his NFL pension

While most inmates at any prison wouldn’t dream of bringing in $600,000 while serving time, most inmates don’t have an NFL pension to pull from, which O.J. Simpson did during his nine-year stay at the Lovelock Correction Center in Nevada. Simpson could have started collecting his pension when he turned 55, but doing so awards less money to the player. If O.J. waited until he was 65 to begin collecting his pension, which pays more than 2.5 times per month, ESPN calculated that Simpson would have made $602,205.

There is a $250 monthly pension credit per season for those who played before 1982, which adds up to $2,750 for O.J. Simpson’s 11 seasons. Additionally, former NFL players receive $124 per month for any season played before 1975 (six of O.J.) and $108 per month for any season played after (five for O.J.). That adds up to an additional $1,284, bringing the total gains to $4,034 per month. If you multiply that by 2.619 (the formula for players who wait until 65 to start collecting), O.J. would receive $10,565 per month. Multiply that number by the 57 months he spent in prison from ages 65 to 70 (Simpson was 61 when he was sentenced) and you get $602,205.

Given his financial troubles, there’s certainly a possibility that Simpson could have started pulling from his pension early, such as when he turned 55. If that were the case, he still would have made $423,570 during his sentence. Despite the amount, his pension is protected by law, meaning that anything he’s earned or will ever earn from it does not have to be paid to the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, who won a civil judgment of $33.5 million against O.J. Simpson in 1997, an amount which has since nearly doubled and seems likely to never be paid, according to WGN TV.

Currently, O.J. Simpson’s net worth is unknown, as it’s unclear how much money he lost in legal fees and if the money from his NFL and Screen Actors Guild pension money is being used to pay off debts. It’s estimated his net worth is anywhere between $250,000 and $3 million, with over $60 million of debt still owed.

RELATED: Long Before His Infamous Trial, O.J. Simpson Made NFL History