David Ortiz: 'It's so easy to blow money'

Daniel Roberts
Writer

David Ortiz is experiencing his first season off the field after a 19-year career in pro baseball. And he says he’s not sure yet what he should do in retirement.

You may find that hard to believe, but it’s the premise of Ortiz’s new ad campaign with John Hancock that labels him “The Retirement Rookie.” The company is soliciting suggestions for what Ortiz should try next, and Ortiz says the campaign “is giving me tons of ideas.” The first ad spot shows him trying water aerobics in a pool, in a class of all women.

In a candid chat with Yahoo Finance, Ortiz says that too many athletes don’t think about their life after sports early enough. But he did. “I kind of did good putting money away,” he says. “And it’s not just do good, it’s making sure that you maintain that for as long as you and your family are there. Saving was something that came into my life early in my career, and I’m doing okay.”

Saving money, spending money wisely

Ortiz, who played mostly for the Boston Red Sox, earned $160 million in salary over the course of his MLB career, and while he was playing he held a number of prominent endorsement deals with companies like JetBlue, Vitamin Water, Reebok, New Era, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

But he also tried some things that didn’t pan out: Ortiz opened a restaurant in Framingham, Ma., Big Papi’s Grille, that eventually closed down. He marketed Big Papi hot sauce that is no longer sold. But as far as bad investments go, there are countless examples of athletes that made many more of them.

Ortiz says one problem is athletes too quickly sign with an investment manager and can often get hosed. “The reality is you don’t know about what he’s investing in, and then… you start losing money… It’s so easy to blow money. Blowing money is the easiest thing you can do. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, blowing it is just the easiest thing to do.”

David Ortiz (AP)

Warren Buffett’s advice for Ortiz

As he heads deeper into retirement, Ortiz says he’s going to keep in mind some advice he just got from an unlikely source: Warren Buffett. Ortiz met him this month at a dinner.

“One thing that he told me was, Whatever you’re going to invest in, make sure you know about it, make sure you are familiar with it. So you know what’s going on,” Ortiz recalls. “When you invest money in things that you don’t know, you face a situation where you could end up losing your money. And let me tell you, the guy knows about it.”

Derek Jeter as retirement model for Ortiz

When asked if there’s a player he looks to as a model in retirement, Ortiz answers quickly: it’s Derek Jeter. “Everybody knows what he’s about, and what he still is.”

Jeter is currently trying to buy the Miami Marlins along with Jeb Bush and a group of investors, and Ortiz points to the effort and says, “Those are the kinds of things that at this moment of my career you would like to be part of, because that’s when you take what you do to the next level.”

In other words: it sure sounds like Ortiz would like to become a team owner some day.

Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite. Sportsbook is our sports business video series.

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