After signing his first contract as a rookie for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, you might have forgiven Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson for thinking he’d made it.
But while other NFL newcomers splashed out on big houses and fast cars, the wide receiver was more focused on living frugally and developing his game.
Johnson, who enjoyed 11 seasons in the NFL, says that instead of lavishing money on a new house, he spent the first two years of his career living inside the Bengals stadium.
“What’s the point? Why are you telling me to go rent a house, go buy a house, or go rent a condo when everything I need is right here in the facility?
“Showers, cafeteria, TV, couch, gaming system. What’s the point? I was so locked in. It wasn’t about having my own space.”
Johnson said that grounded approach helped lay a foundation on which he built his successful NFL career.
He spent 10 seasons with the Bengals before finishing his playing days with a short stint at the New England Patriots, making six Pro-Bowl teams.
“I needed that one year lock in to catch the rhythm. In the second year I got that rhythm,” he said, adding that it was Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis who eventually persuaded him to get his own place.
Despite earning millions throughout his career, Johnson says he was never tempted to splash out on expensive clothes and fast cars.
He claims he never bought real jewelry during his career and, to this day, the 45-year-old says he doesn’t see the point in getting carried away with his fortune.
“There is nothing I can buy that’s bigger than my name alone,” he said, estimating that he saved over 80% of his playing salary.
“Everybody is caught up in image, and looking a certain way, being rich. It’s pointless.”