The director of "Broke" explains why its easy for pro athletes like Adrian Peterson to squander their fortunes  


The news that Adrian Peterson is in debt and being sued for failure to pay back a loan shocked many—including our own Cory Hepola—but there was at least one person who wasn't that surprised. 

"The truth is, as surreal as that sounds, it is so easy to do," said Billy Corben, the Miami-based documentary producer and director behind 2012's "Broke," an ESPN 30 for 30 doc which took a close look at how professional athletes often end up squandering their wealth. 

Corben, who has produced several notable documentaries, including the Cocaine Cowboys series and The U, said that "Broke" was meant as a call-to-action, and it resonated with many pro athletes. 

"To their credit, a lot of the athletes at the time were tweeting things to the effective of 'I'm not going to be in 'Broke II,' and here we are probably ready to unfortunately launch a sequel," he said during an interview an interview with Hepola.

When Adrian Peterson retires, should the #Vikings retire his #28? #SKOL @wccoradio

— Cory Hepola (@CoryHepola) July 24, 2019

At the root of the problem, Coben explained, is the nature of how professional athletes get their first big pay check. 

"This is what we call a sudden wealth event. Oftentimes, players come from very humble beginings and suddenly, almost overnight, are multimillionaires. And when you don't have the experience of preserving wealth and growing wealth, it's a very onerous and complicated process," he said.

He then added:

"And of course, as, as we're seeing, allegedly in the Peterson case, the individuals that athletes often trust with the responsibility of preserving and growing their wealth, can't be trusted."

Corben outlined several factors that tend to be at play when athletes lose their fortunes, like conspicuous consumption, injuries, family obligations, lack of financial literacy and being targeted by unscrupulous individuals. 

Athletes, he said, like anyone else, feel the "Keeping up with the Jones" effect.

"When you are competitive people, which athletes are by their very nature and profession, you will get into competitive spending and will want the fanciest car that, and the best suits (compared with) your fellow players in the locker room."

He said colleges and universities should do more to teach elite student altheltes about financial literacy.

"They know that some percentage, a very tiny percentage, mind you, but a percentage nonetheless of this exclusive group of students are going to become overnight multimillionaires. And I feel they need to take a more active role in preparing them for that sudden wealth event."

After $100 million in career earnings, NFL star Adrian Peterson is nearly $10 million in debt after conspicuous consumption and "trusting the wrong people". Somebody should make a documentary about this. #BROKE

— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) July 24, 2019

And athletes are not alone. Corben pointed out that anyone who experiences a "sudden wealth event," like winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune, face similar risks. 

And another factor to consider — most people start off at the bottom rung of their respective industry, and slowly work their way up, gradually making more money along the way—but that process is flipped on its head for pro athletes. 

"They're making more money than they'll ever see in their lifetime when they're 20 something years old. And any of us would find exciting ways of squandering that kind of money," he said. 

Corben's latest documentary, Magic City Hustle,  follows several former players for the Miami Hurricanes who get an unexpected chance to turn pro, except... not in football. Watch the trailer to understand: 

Listen to his full interview with Hepola here: