Why these 3 pro athletes who earn millions of dollars still drive cheaper cars

Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris drives a $2 car

Professional athletes who earn millions are not known for always making the best financial decisions. Many blow their paychecks on fancy cars and extravagant homes.

But not every football or basketball star opts for an over-the-top lifestyle. In fact, many choose to live like they're broke.

CNBC Make It rounded up three successful athletes who nonetheless still drive cheap cars. Here's who's choosing to live frugally.

Kirk Cousins

In March 2018, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Vikings. At the time, Cousins' deal made him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

But you wouldn't guess his salary based on what he drives: a dented GMC Savana passenger van with more than 100,000 miles on it. He and his wife bought it from his grandmother for $5,000 in 2014.

"People like to give me a hard time, but it still runs well," Cousins tweeted in 2018, along with a photo of the van.

To Cousins, "it's better to buy appreciating assets than depreciating," he told Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal in 2016. "No yachts, no sports cars."

The starting quarterback makes a good point. The moment you drive a new car off the lot, its value depreciates by about 20 percent.

Alfred Morris

In 2016, running back Alfred Morris agreed to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million with the Dallas Cowboys. And in 2018, he signed a single-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers for $790,000. Currently, he's a free agent.

But his spending habits don't reflect his high earnings. As of 2018, Morris still drove a 26-year-old Mazda 626 sedan from 1991.

Morris purchased the vehicle, affectionately known as "Bentley," from his pastor for just $2 during his junior year at Florida Atlantic University. It garnered national attention in 2012 when he was drafted to the Washington Redskins and took Bentley with him.

This NFL starting quarterback drives a dented van he bought from his grandma for $5,000

Although Morris now also owns a 2018 Subaru, he continues to take care of Bentley: "I still drive my baby," he says.

For Morris, staying frugal is crucial to making his NFL money last. He recognizes that without the right approach to personal finance, you can blow through a fortune: "A lot of these guys who play in the NFL grew up in poverty," he tells Matt Maiocco on the 49ers Insider podcast. "To give somebody who has the same mindset when they were broke all of this money, of course they are going to end up back where they started at."

LeBron James

LeBron James is one of the best athletes alive today, and he's also one of the richest: He has a net worth of around $450 million, according to Forbes. James's latest contract with the Los Angeles Lakers will increase in value each year until it hits $41 million for the 2021-2022 season, according to sports contract website Spotrac, and the basketball star also earns hundreds of millions from endorsement deals and brand investments.

So when he started appearing in Kia ads in 2015, many fans expressed skepticism. But James stuck by the endorsement and insisted that he really does own a Kia K900.

Confirmation came in 2016 when teammate Richard Jefferson posted a video to his Snapchat of James getting into the vehicle after the team arrived back in Cleveland, fresh off a win against the Hawks in Atlanta. "You come home, eight straight, and he rocking the Kia," Jefferson says in the video. "There's a 1,000% chance that there's a 100% chance that LeBron drives a Kia."

It isn't James's only ride: He's also owned a 2006 Hummer H1 and a 2012 Bentley GT, among others. Still, his general attitude towards money is to be careful with it. He's even called himself the cheapest player in the NBA.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: Here's how much it costs to produce one episode of 'Game of Thrones'

LeBron James admits to being the cheapest player in the NBA
make it

Stay in the loop

Sign Up

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us