Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to get your hands on a big Powerball or Mega Millions ticket and it’s time to cash in.
The eternal conundrum is do you cash out immediately and take the lump sum? Or do you stretch it out as an annuity, hoping you’ll live long enough so that your golden years really are your golden years?
That decision has played itself out in sports, as athletes and other sports figures are stretching their windfalls way past retirement. Recently, news that the New York Mets’ pay former outfielder Bobby Bonilla nearly $1.2 million annually, 15 years after he retired, made a big splash.
But that’s hardly the biggest or even longest attempt to stretch out a payment. Take a look at some of these deferrals:
Manny Ramirez: The eccentric left fielder finished his career with the Tampa Bay Rays four years ago, but he just picked up a $1.98 million check from the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. And Manny will always be Manny, but he also will cash $2 million annual checks from the Sox through 2026, when he’s 54 years old.
Ken Griffey, Jr. — Though the former center fielder made his fame in Seattle, he’s going to make a fortune off the Cincinnati Reds.
Griffey signed a nine-year, $116.5 million free agent deal to come home to Cincinnati, but spent a lot of his time there on the disabled list. The Reds agreed to defer $57.5 million, so as not to inhibit their ability to sign other free agents.
As a result, Griffey, 45, will be getting money from Cincinnati into his 50s.
Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman — Both Zimmerman and Scherzer are still active Nationals.
But they’ll be paid by the Nationals long after their playing days are over. Scherzer will be getting half of that seven-year, $210 million deal in the seven years after the contract expires at the end of the 2021 season. And the six-year, $100 million extension that Zimmerman signed in 2012 will pay him $10 million a year for five years after he retires.
Kevin Garnett — The power forward will likely finish his career where it started, with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Garnett will get $35 million — paid out in $7 million annual installments for five years — after he retires.
Dan and Ozzie Silna — Chances are, you’ve never heard of this brother tandem that owned the now defunct Spirits of St. Louis of the old ABA. But every time you watch an NBA game on television, you should think of the Silnas.
When the NBA and ABA merged in 1976, the NBA took four former ABA teams, Denver, San Antonio, Indiana and the now Brooklyn Nets, leaving three teams out in the cold. The Virginia Squires folded before the merger and the Kentucky Colonels owner elected to be bought out by the four teams that were going to the NBA.
That left the Silnas. Rather than taking a lump-sum payment, the brothers elected to take one-seventh of the national television revenue from each of the four teams that went to the NBA for as long as the league existed.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? As the NBA’s television contract has grown over the past four decades, the Silnas have earned an estimated $300 million.
The league tried to end the deal, but with no success. That is, until last year, when the Silnas agreed to take a $500 million payment, though, according to the New York Times, they may still receive some money from disputed sources that didn’t exist when they signed the original deal, like NBA TV, NBA League Pass and foreign broadcasts.
Bruce Sutter — The closer pitched for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves for 13 years. He last threw a pitch in 1988 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.
He’s apparently still getting paid by the Braves today, 27 years later. How? His free agent signing in Atlanta was one of the splashiest of the 1985 season, as he signed what was, for then, a massive $44 million contract.
But Sutter and his agent crafted the deal to run 36 years. That’s right, 36 years. The thought was Sutter would get $800,000 a year for six years, then take the rest of the money as an annuity paying 13 percent a year, which would pay him $1.3 million a year until he was 67.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1985 that Sutter, who is 62, instead received $750,000 a year for the first six years and a minimum of $1.1 million a year for 30 years. The deal was to be capped by a $9.1 million principal payment at the end.
That means, if the math is right, the Braves are on the hook for another $15 million to a guy who has been out of baseball longer than Freddie Freeman has been alive.