The Game of Love: Athletes and Prenuptial Agreements

Nov 28, 2023 | Prenuptial Agreements

Have you heard of Travis Kelce, famous Chief’s football player? Well, chances are, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of him (thanks to Taylor Swift). In the world of professional sports, athletes are often in the spotlight not only for their on-field skills but also for their personal lives. As high-profile individuals, like Travis, with substantial earnings, athletes face unique challenges when it comes to relationships. Prenups have become a crucial consideration for athletes aiming to protect their financial interests in the event of a marriage breakdown or death. Whether or not an athlete has a prenup is an often highly discussed topic thanks to their very public relationships and finances. Let’s jump (or run, or skate, or swim) into this article about all things athletes and their prenups. 


The Athlete Lifestyle and Its Challenges

Professional athletes experience a lifestyle marked by fame, fortune, constant public scrutiny, and a unique career path. Between the endorsement deals, high salaries, and social media income, they are typically very wealthy. Not only that, but their career choice comes with challenges as well. They tend to have intense travel schedules, lots of media attention, and physical stress on their bodies. Between the fame, the money, and the job stress, it can lead to strain on their romantic relationships, making the need for a prenup that much more dire.


What Is a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract entered into by a couple before marriage. Note, the prenup must be done before the wedding day, otherwise it is not valid. Prenups outline the division of assets, spousal support, and other financial and non-financial matters in the event of divorce and sometimes death. For example, some non-financial matters in a prenup may include confidentiality clauses (these are great for famous athletes) and also infidelity clauses (whether or not these are enforceable vary by state). 


Why Do Athletes Get Prenups?

So, why do athletes get prenups? Well, there’s many reasons–from protecting wealth to protecting their privacy, a prenup may be a good idea for all the Tom Brady’s out there.


  1. Protecting Wealth

First and foremost, protecting their money is a frontrunner reason for getting a prenup as an athlete. Why? Athletes often amass substantial wealth through their contracts, endorsements, social media ads, business ventures, and other revenue streams. A prenuptial agreement allows them to establish clear terms for the protection of their assets and income, preventing disputes over wealth distribution in the event of a divorce.


  1. Privacy 

Public figures, including athletes, tend to value their privacy. When you get a prenup, anyone, even athletes, are required to disclose all of their finances in the prenup. This includes the value of their contracts, endorsements, any and all income, assets, debt, businesses, and future inheritances. An athlete may not want this information to become public knowledge. Not only that, but simply keeping personal information about them private may be important. A prenuptial agreement can include confidentiality clauses, preventing either party from publicly discussing any private matters, including personal matters and financial matters.


  1. Reputation

Not only do many athletes want to keep their lives private, but they may want to protect their reputation, as well. They may be able to do so by keeping certain information private through a confidentiality clause. They may also be able to include a social media clause that prohibits their future spouse from posting disparaging content about them online. Both of these clauses together can help protect an athlete’s reputation. 


  1. Protecting Children from Previous Relationship

Athletes and all people alike may have children from previous relationships. They may want to ensure their kids are protected when they enter a new marriage with someone that isn’t their children’s parent. Having a prenup in place can ensure their children’s fortunes remain intact, in the event of a divorce or even in their death.


  1. Protecting their Partner 

Yes, some athletes may want to enter into a prenup to provide some financial protection to their future spouse. The partners of athletes have needs, too, and may be hesitant to enter into a marriage that doesn’t include a prenup that provides for them, as well. For example, there are clauses that are beneficial for the lesser-earning spouse, too. Such as a wealth equalization clause which provides a lump sum payment to the less-wealthy spouse immediately upon divorce. (See how Michael Jordan included a wealth equalization clause in his prenup below). A wealth equalization clause is separate from child support and alimony– it is an additional payment that helps “balance the wealth” between the parties.


  1. Setting Expectations with a Future Spouse

Few things breed conflict in a relationship as effectively as poor communication. The process of getting a prenup encourages thorough discussions on challenging topics, particularly those related to finances. The act of getting a prenup entails full financial disclosure from both partners—no, you cannot skip anything; both individuals must be completely transparent. Clearly outlining each other’s expectations proves beneficial in fostering mutual understanding. For example, including clauses about budgeting and deciding whether to have joint bank accounts can be instrumental in setting expectations. Opting for a prenup ensures that expectations are clearly defined between spouses, potentially averting future disputes.

Michael Jordan’s Prenup

The GOAT, Michael Jordan himself, learned from his mistakes and got a prenup in his second marriage to Yvette Prieto, back in 2013. Allegedly, he did not have a prenup to his first wife and learned the hard way about how that turns out. In his second marriage, his prenup was designed to be fair but also to be protective of his wealth. The word on the street is that they have a wealth equalization clause that says for every year that Prieto and Jordan are married, she would receive a $1 million payout and if the marriage lasted more than 10 years, she would receive $5 million per every year married. This arrangement simultaneously protect’s Michael’s $3 billion net worth while also making sure his partner is provided for in the event of a divorce. Whether or not it’s fair, well that’s up to the couple themselves and a court, if it’s ever challenged. 


Final Thoughts

As athletes continue to grapple with the unique challenges posed by their professional and personal lives, prenuptial agreements have become a key tool for protecting their financial interests and preventing conflict in their marriage. While the decision to enter into a prenup is deeply personal, it reflects the recognition of the distinctive circumstances athletes face. So, if you want to be like MJ, then getting a prenup might just be the way to go, especially if you are a professional athlete. 

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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