How Michael Jordan lost $20 million, a famous quarterback bet from prison over the phone, and a former MU player became a betting addict while running errands for Alex Ferguson.

Keith Gillespie (soccer)

In his autobiography, “How to Stop Being a Millionaire Footballer,” the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland midfielder admitted that he squandered the entire fortune he made at a bookmaker’s office. “Of course, it’s impossible to say exactly, but at a rough guess it’s about 7-8 million pounds,” Gillespie finds the strength to admit it. Keith started betting as a MU player (it all started with Alex Ferguson asking him to go to the office to place a few bets and tipped him if he was successful), but at Newcastle, Gillespie really went on a roll. “If before you had to go to the office, now the phone betting allowed you to part with your money faster. I once lost £62,000 – my annual salary – over the phone in 48 hours and got into a lot of debt,” Gillespie recalls. It’s scary to imagine what would have become of the footballer if it had been possible to play online in those days. According to, payments at many casinos go through in two accounts, and players can bet directly from their phones. So it’s entirely possible that Keith Gillespie would have become a beggar if casinos were as accessible as they are today. 

Now the former athlete lives on the outskirts of Bangor in a modest apartment and claims to have beaten his gambling addiction. 

Pete Rose (baseball)

In 1989, the baseball world was stunned. It turned out that one of the greatest players in league history, Pete Rose, by then the coach of the Cincinnati Reds, had spent his entire adult life betting on sweepstakes. By doing so, the MLB record holder for hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), and outs (10,328) canceled out what seemed to be a mere matter of time – his induction into the Hall of Fame. Known for his never-ending optimism, Rose claimed he never violated sports ethics, and that jealous critics slandered him. But the verdict was harsh: a lifetime suspension.

Michael Jordan (basketball)

His Air was always a gambling man, adoring various bets. So, in 1992, when the U.S. national team returned from the triumphant Olympics, Jordan bet $100 with nine other team members that his bags would be the first to leave the luggage carousel belt. And he won! However, this is nothing compared to the amount Michael lost on all kinds of bets in bookmakers, races, golf, and casinos – about 20 million dollars. Jordan sees nothing wrong with his hobby – after all, he can afford to spend a lot more.

Keiji Kotomitsuki (Sumo wrestling)

The Japanese are known to be very sensitive to the national wrestling traditions: an athlete should not only respect his opponent but be imbued with high moral values as well. The famous high-ranking champion of Ozeki, Kotomitsuki, did not have it in him. In 2010 it was revealed that he had been betting on baseball at an illegal betting site, which, moreover, is controlled by the Yakuza. As it turned out, Keiji was not the only one to lead a far from righteous life – in addition to him, 65 wrestlers out of 700 admitted to playing the betting game. But only Kotomizuki was punished, losing not only his belt but also a hefty pension.

Art Schlichter (American Football)

Art became a cheating addict back in the late ’70s when he started playing for a college league team, and over the years, the disease has only progressed. So much so that in his first year in the big leagues, the Baltimore Colts quarterback lost about $700,000 on sports bets. Schlichter bet on everything: horse racing, basketball, soccer, and to pay off his debts, he began cooperating with the FBI, turning in his bookies. In 1982, the NFL found out about it and disqualified him. After that, Art returned several times, but each time without success.

It was after his career ended in the early ’90s, that Schlichter found himself behind bars for the first time. It turned out that he had been forging checks and committing other frauds, which led to his conviction for 9 years. But he didn’t settle down in prison either: after it was discovered that Art had obtained a cell phone and was betting on it, the former footballer was put in solitary confinement for four months.