Celebrity Prenups: Sports Edition

Jan 18, 2024 | Prenuptial Agreements, real life case

In the world of sports and celebrity relationships, prenuptial agreements are not just legal documents; they’re often high-stakes negotiations. Athletes, like anyone else, face challenges in their marriages, and the terms of their prenups can become significant points of contention. In this edition of celebrity prenups, we dive into the fascinating stories of sports personalities who navigated the complexities of prenuptial agreements, providing a glimpse into the legal battles, rumors, and unique clauses that shaped their high-profile divorces.


Deion Sanders 

Deion Sanders, former Dallas Cowboys football star, underwent an intense court battle over the validity of his prenup with ex-wife Pilar Sanders back in 2012, according to CBS News. The dispute arose when the couple split and Pilar argued the prenup should be thrown out. CBS News reports that the prenup in question was signed in 1999 and even included an immediate signing bonus of $100,000, paid to Pilar simply for signing the prenup. The rest of the terms of the agreement are unclear, but it’s safe to say whatever they were, were unfavorable to her, hence her claim to get it thrown out. According to NBC News, Pilar claims the prenup was “partially forged” and “partially signed under pressure.” The Texas court hearing their case ultimately disagreed with Pilar, upholding the prenup. CBS News spoke with divorce attorneys at the time who explained, “It’s not easy to get a prenuptial agreement tossed out.”

Alex Rodriguez 

Long before J.Lo was ever in the picture, Alex Rodriguez (better known as A-Rod) was married to Cynthia Rodriguez, and they ultimately got divorced in 2008, which was allegedly based on infidelity, according to ESPN. Rumor has it that A-Rod and Madonna had a fling, but nothing was confirmed. In the divorce proceedings between A-Rod and Cynthia, there was a prenup in place, which appears to have been upheld and the terms followed, but the details of such are not clear. ESPN spoke with Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin, a family law expert, who previously headed up the American Bar Association’s family law section, who said Cynthia would likely have lost a battle to get the prenup thrown out anyway. 


Dwayne Wade 

Dwayne Wade, the famous former Heat player married Gabrielle Union back in 2014. Gabrielle is no stranger to fame and success, as she also has her fair share of cash from her career as an actress. They are the definition of a power couple. And what does any good power couple need? A prenup, of course. According to Vanity Fair, their secret to a harmonious relationship was their prenup. They spoke with D. Wade himself who explained how getting a prenup was a no-brainer. He explained to Vanity Fair how he signed his prenup with Gabrielle and said to her, “You a millionaire. You got money, you worked hard for yourself. You’ve got insurance, don’t you?” While unclear what exactly went into their prenup, based on his quote to Vanity Fair, they may have included some clauses about insurance and making sure what they each worked hard for remains separate. 

 

John Cena and Nikki Bella

While this tale of two WWE superstars isn’t about prenups, it’s an adjacent topic–cohabitation agreements. According to People Magazine, John Cena requested a 75-page cohabitation agreement to be signed before moving in together. A cohabitation agreement is something a couple can put into place before living together, and they don’t need to be married. It basically lays out the terms of the living situation. (John and Nikki never ended up getting married, by the way). The alleged terms of this cohabitation agreement included requiring Nikki immediately vacate the premises should the pair split. People Magazine reported that Nikki was referred to as “a guest” in the document, which left a bad taste in her mouth. The pair ended up calling off their engagement eventually, so no prenup ever came of this relationship! 

 

Shaq 

Shaquille O’Neal, or probably best known as “Shaq” (who needs no introduction) divorced his ex-wife Shaunie O’Neal in 2007. According to EssentiallySports.com, the pair had a prenup in place, which drastically reduced what he would have owed his wife had he otherwise not had a prenup. Nonetheless, Shaq still ended up allegedly owing $200,000 in alimony to Shaunie. It’s unclear exactly what the terms of the agreement said, but we would assume that he included some terms to ensure his NBA fortune was at least partially protected. Given Shaq’s Florida residence at the time (thanks to his position on the Miami Heat), their divorce proceedings took place in Florida, even though Shaunie and the kids lived in California, at the time. EssentiallySports.com reports that the prenup may not have been valid in California, however, we’re not sure if that claim is substantiated in any way, as there weren’t any further details on the matter.

 

Drew Doughty 

We couldn’t complete a sports edition prenup article without a proper Canadian hockey player! Enter: Drew Doughty, a member of the LA Kings NHL team. Him and ex-wife, Nicole Arruda signed a prenup prior to getting married, according to Yahoo Entertainment. When they eventually filed for divorce, there were divorce documents revealed to Yahoo Entertainment pointing to the notion that Nicole was challenging the agreement based on it’s conscionability. The divorce filings allegedly stated, “Determination of the validity of the Prenuptial Agreement dated August 2, 2018, and/or that any provisions are unconscionable.”The term “unconscionable” varies based on the state you’re in, but, in general, it can mean that the term(s) or circumstances surrounding the prenup are egregiously unfair or one-sided. Thus, it’s safe to assume that Nicole was challenging the conscionability of the agreement because it was unfavorable to her. 

 

Final Thoughts

As we peek behind the curtain of celebrity marriages in the sports world, it’s evident that prenups play a pivotal role in defining the financial landscape of these relationships. From Deion Sanders’ court battle to Alex Rodriguez’s rumored infidelity, and Dwayne Wade’s pragmatic approach to his union with Gabrielle Union, each story adds a layer of intrigue to the broader conversation about love, sports, and legal safeguards. While the details vary, these celebrity tales underscore the importance of thoughtful consideration and legal clarity when it comes to securing a prenup.

You are writing your life story. Get on the same page with a prenup. For love that lasts a lifetime, preparation is key. Safeguard your shared tomorrows, starting today.
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