While professional athletes are incredibly talented in their respective sports, the financial sector is a whole different ball game. We’ve all heard the horror stories; guys like Mike Tyson and Johnny Unitas might have seemed invincible, but that status didn’t protect their money. Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter almost joined those unfortunate ranks.
During his playing career, an investor approached Hunter with a bizarre opportunity. It turned out to be a scam and almost cost the outfielder $500,000.
Torri Hunter’s Major League Baseball career
Growing up, Torri Hunter was a talented football player. He actually received attention from schools like LSU and Arkansas but never found a home on the gridiron; once MLB scouts told him that he had first-round potential, Hunter focused on baseball.
In 1992, the Minnesota Twins did make Hunter a first-round pick. His road to the show, however, wasn’t easy; while he had some brief cups of coffee, the outfielder didn’t become an MLB regular until 1999. Once he arrived in the Twin Cities, however, he made an impact.
Despite a brief demotion to the Pacific Coast League in 2000, Hunter established himself as a key contributor in the Twin Cities. While he was a capable batter—he hit .277 for his career with 353 homer—the outfielder truly shone on defense. Whether he was ranging into the gap or scaling the fence to rob a home run, no ball fell outside of Hunter’s reach.
Hunter spent most of his career with the Twins, helping the club dominate the AL Central during the early 2000s, but also played for the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers before calling it a career.
A $500,000 investment scam
Despite his on-field success, Torii Hunter almost became a cautionary tale of financial mismanagement. The outfielder nearly fell for a scam, which could have cost him more than half a million dollars.
In the early 2000s, Hunter encountered an investment opportunity. The product seemed bizarre—it was an inflatable raft that sat below your furniture and could be inflated in case of a flood—but the Minnesota Twin was interested. He contributed $70,000 and waited.
Hunter didn’t turn a profit; in fact, he was asked to invest more money in the product. It was then when he realized something suspicious was going on.
“The guy I invested with came back and wanted me to put in more, about $500,000,” Hunter told Pablo Torre in a 2009 Sports Illustrated feature. “Then I met [financial manager Ed Butowsky], who just said, ‘Hell no!’ I wound up never seeing that guy—or any of my money—again.”
Thankfully Torii Hunter avoided financial ruin
Thanks to Butowski, Hunter only sunk $70,000 into the scam. While that’s still a nice chunk of change, the outfielder managed to avoid outright financial ruin.
During his playing career, Hunter earned approximately $172 million; $90 million of that came from one five-year contract with the Angels. His cash flow hasn’t stopped in retirement, either. Hunter is a special assistant to the Minnesota Twins and co-owns two barbeque restaurants.
We’ve all heard horror stories about former athletes who mismanaged their money and ended up in tough situations. Thankfully, Torii Hunter escaped the worst-case scenario; instead, he’s merely a cautionary tale, showing how easily anyone can fall into a financial trap.