To call O.J. Simpson a controversial athlete might be putting it too lightly. To many, the former NFL star is known more for his 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 enjoyed the high life. Now out of prison, his once-ample bank account is a fraction of what it once was.
O.J. Simpson: superstar athlete
Simpson wasn’t always an infamous character. 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 getting the ball to the end zone with ease. This got him paid quite handsomely, although it seems incredibly low by today’s standards. His five-year, $650,000 contract to kick off his NFL career was the largest paid to any athlete at the time, reports Gameday News.
“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. Simpson 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 football fans.
When he retired from the NFL in 1979, he focused full time on his acting career. Among his most memorable performances were his roles in The Naked Gun series and 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 a 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 he did just that to this very day.
While the trial and aftermath have been covered many times over, the financial ramifications are still cloudy. Simpson was found not guilty in his criminal trial, but he wasn’t as lucky in the civil one. After losing that trial, reports AP News, 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 — 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. In 2017, he was granted parole.
What is O.J. Simpson’s net worth?
Despite his financial ruin, Simpson still makes 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, according to Money.com. 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 suffer like some believe he should be. But his worth both financially and to the public has declined; it isn’t likely he’ll ever recover now at 73 years of age.