On the surface, celebrities appear to have little to worry about in the finance department: They command massive paychecks, after all, and can often tap into impressive endorsement deals on the side. so why do so many of them run into major money problems? Britney Spears, Aretha Franklin, and Nicolas Cage are just a few of the rich and famous who have made headlines with their financial disasters.
[In Pictures: Celebrities with the Biggest Money Problems.]
It turns out that celebrities often face extra hurdles, despite (and in some cases because of) their big paychecks. Not only do they have luxe lifestyles (and images) to maintain, but friends and family frequently rely on them for cash, their income is often unpredictable, and cash flow can quickly peter out when they’re past their prime.
In fact, it can be the celebrity lifestyle itself that trips up superstars. Travis Henry, a former pro-football running back, has fathered 11 different children (by 10 different women), and pays an estimated $170,000 a year in child support. (He’s also been convicted of cocaine trafficking and received a three-year prison sentence in 2009.)
Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps lost one of his biggest endorsement deals with Kellogg after photos of him with a bong emerged. Photographer Annie Leibovitz faced $24 million in debt from a mix of outstanding rental equipment fees, an uncompleted book deal, and renovation payments. Michael Jackson died with about $323 million in debt, largely related to his Neverland ranch. Even Thomas Jefferson suffered from the celebrity-debt connection. the third president of the United States died so deeply in debt that his family was forced to sell Monticello, his estate.