To call O.J. Simpson a controversial athlete might be putting it too lightly. Simpson, to many, is known more for his infamous murder trial and ensuing fall from grace than he is for anything he did on the field. Once a staple of TV, movies, and sports, Simpson once enjoyed the high life. Recently released from prison, his once-ample bank account is now a fraction of what it once was.
O.J. Simpson: superstar athlete
Simpson wasn’t always the infamous character we see him as today. Starting with a storied football career at USC, he became a household name thanks to his ridiculous speed and ability to will his teams to victory. The Buffalo Bills gladly selected him first overall in the 1969 NBA Draft. Save for the last two years of his career, Simpson spent most of his time in Buffalo.
There, he was a force to be reckoned with, rushing for as many as 2,000 yards in a season and guiding the ball into the end zone with remarkable ease. This got him paid quite handsomely, although by today’s standards, it seems incredibly low. His five-year, $650,000 contract to kick off his NFL career was the largest paid to any athlete at the time.
“Juice,” as he became known, was one of the greatest ball carriers the world had ever seen, but his image quickly went bigger than sports as he tried his hands at acting. He was a Hall of Famer, a six-time Pro Bowler, and a one-time MVP.
O.J. goes to Hollywood
During his playing days, Simpson was already becoming a presence in the entertainment world. He appeared in several hit movies and TV series, including the classic miniseries Roots. Furthermore, his commercials for Hertz car rental were a massive hit with audiences. Simpson became a household name beyond fans of football.
When he retired from the NFL in 1979, he focused full time on his acting career. Among his most memorable performances were his role in The Naked Gun series and films like The Klansman. Simpson was on cloud nine, worth as much as $10.8 million at the time of his 1992 divorce. Then, everything changed on the fateful night of his ex-wife’s murder.
Simpson’s fall from grace
Until 1994, Simpson was the ideal celebrity athlete. He had charm with the media that he parlayed into a successful career as an actor and a pitchman. It would’ve been hard to imagine the smiling, charismatic figure from all those movies and commercials could commit such heinous acts. But many believe that he did just that to this very day.
While the trial and aftermath have been covered many times over, the financial ramifications may still be cloudy. Simpson was found not guilty in his criminal trial, but he wasn’t as lucky in the civil one. After losing that trial, Simpson had to pay $33.5 million to the families of his two victims. To date, he has only paid a fraction of this.
To make things worse for Simpson, who was already in financial ruin in 2007, he was caught and convicted of trying to steal sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. He was granted parole in 2017.
What is O.J. Simpson’s net worth?
Despite his financial ruins, Simpson is still making money thanks to pensions from the NFL and Screen Actor’s Guild. This money, which isn’t required to go toward his court settlements, is believed to be worth anywhere from $250,000 to $3 million. With nearly $40 million of debt still owed, however, this is far from an ideal situation.
Simpson’s legacy will always be tarnished by what happened in 1994. Over a quarter-century after the murders, it still captivates the nation. Simpson might not be suffering like some believe he should be. But his worth both financially and to the public has gone way down; it isn’t likely he’ll ever recover now at 72 years of age.