Former NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson considers himself a frugal businessman. In fact, he was so frugal that he lived in the Cincinnati Bengals stadium for free for the first two years of his career.
“Why are you telling me to rent or buy a house when everything I need is in the facility?” Johnson recently said on the Club Shay Shay podcast, hosted by Shannon Sharpe. “Showers, cafeteria, TV, couch, gaming system. What’s the point? I was so cooped up. It wasn’t about my own space.”
Johnson would have stayed longer had not then-Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis kicked him out.
“He said it’s time to take responsibility, spread your wings and get your own place,” said the former wide receiver.
Johnson moved into a one-bedroom down the street.
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Flying Spirit Airlines and wearing fake jewelry
The 45-year-old Johnson played in the NFL from 2001 to 2011 and made the Pro Bowl six times. But despite his extraordinary success, both as a player and financially, he said he saved 83% of his salary by living on a budget.
While other players bought expensive jewelry and clothing, Johnson admitted to wearing fake jewelry.
“Why am I buying a $50,000 watch?” he said. “Time is free.”
Johnson said it was the little things that saved him money. Instead of flying first class or chartering a private jet, he flew budget airlines like Spirit. He also taught himself about money, internship at Morgan Stanley.
Sharpe asked Johnson what advice he would give to other players in the league, especially rookies.
“Don’t try to live a lifestyle you can’t afford,” he said. “The more you earn, the more you spend if you don’t have discipline or structure. But people won’t listen because we’ve gotten caught up in looking a certain way and living a certain way while trying to appease others who don’t do not.” I don’t really care about you, just to say, “I get it.” I have it too, but I’ve had it for almost 30 years.”