5 Famous People Who Lost Everything (For Stupid Reasons)

Our culture is full of cautionary tales about rich and famous people who lose all their money and end up cleaning out the mop bucket after the nursing home janitor goes home for the night. Usually, these people's downfalls are due to plain old greed and wastefulness -- not checking the pockets of their designer suits for spare change before they throw it in their closet-furnace, failing to make sure they've snorted every last line of cocaine off that male stripper's abs before they send him back to his wing of the mansion, etc.

But others lose their fortunes for far more drastic reasons. Sure, these people may currently be elbow-deep in janitor bucket, but at least they each have a story to tell. For example ...

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5
Nicolas Cage Spent $150 Million, Lost $276,000 On A Dinosaur Skull

Actor Nicolas Cage built up his fortune the good old-fashioned way: by screaming and gesticulating wildly on camera. Over the years, Cage's acting skills and sheer on-screen Nicolas Cageness earned him a cool fortune of $150 million. But by the late 2000s, his finances must have felt like Leelee Sobieski did when a man in a bear suit came running toward her in the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, because they were about to get punched in the face.

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Cage declared bankruptcy in 2009, and to this day is desperately appearing in any movie script Hollywood craps out in an attempt to stay ahead of his debts.

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Where The Money Went

Cage appears to make financial decisions by holding up a small handheld mirror and asking himself: "What would Nicolas Cage do?" Over the years, he has purchased a haunted murder mansion, a private island, and a collection of shrunken heads. But his crowning achievement was spending $276,000 on a 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex skull which turned out to be stolen.

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Get it? "Crowning"? Because it's a skull? Okay, I'll move on.

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Authorities discovered that the gallery where Mr. Cage bought the skull had been scammed by criminal paleontologist Eric Prokopi, whom authorities describe as a "one-man black market in prehistoric fossils." Holy s**t, Hollywood, you're still making terrible remakes of even more terrible 1990s book series when this guy is walking around with his story untold?

Cage returned the skull to its home country of Mongolia, but never revealed exactly what he wanted it for in the first place. The only reason I can think of is that he wanted to grind up the bones and ingest the powder in some sort of voodoo ritual to give himself mystical dinosaur powers and wisdom, but that's completely crazy s**t that even Nicolas Cage wouldn't be into -- wait, Nicolas Cage is into that, too? Okay.

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4
Heidi Montag Spent $10 Million In Preparation For the Mayan Apocalypse

You may remember Heidi Montag as one of the stars of the "reality" drama The Hills. She was the one who met and eventually married the douchey Spencer Pratt, while viewers at home watched and felt much better about their own lives. Montag and Pratt have inexplicably remained famous since then, and eventually made a fortune of around $10 million, because it turns out the terrorists were right.

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Pratt and Montag, shown here shortly after emerging from the sweaty loins of the Great Satan.

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It's become a bit of a cliche to dump on talentless reality stars, so I will add here that the couple have also managed to remain happily married for seven years, and that they both probably have some very nice qualities. However, being good with money is not one of those qualities.

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Where The Money Went

By 2010, Pratt and Montag were spending money like the world was ending, because they thought the world was ending. In 2013, Pratt admitted that he and his wife believed that an asteroid was going to hit the earth on December 21, 2012, and that the best thing to do was get rid of all that pesky money before that happened, presumably because cash and valuables would only weigh a person down in the underground garbage mines once cockroaches had taken over the earth.

Johannes Gerhardus Swanepoel/iStock/Getty
"If only we'd allowed Nicolas Cage to gain tyrannosaurus wisdom so he could guide us through this" -- Humanity

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So the couple went on a wild pre-apocalyptic spending spree, handing out thousands of dollars to friends and tipping people $200 to open doors. Eventually, they were forced to move back in with Pratt's parents after their money ran out and they could no longer afford a house. And after all that, the prophecy turned out to be bullshit. Or maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was all set to happen, but then God changed his mind because he couldn't stand the idea of Spencer Pratt being right about something.

3
Antoine Walker Lost A s**t-Ton On The Housing Crash

Sure, you can make decent money starring in reality shows, but most reality stars look as poor as hobos compared to professional athletes. NBA star Antoine Walker earned upwards of $110 million over the course of his 12-year career, which works out to about $25,000 a day. Christ, the guy probably earned more during the time he spent pooping in the morning than most people do in a year, even if he was getting enough fiber. But given that he's appearing in this article, you can probably guess that Walker's golden days of cash-pooping are unfortunately over.

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These days, he can barely afford two-ply, like the rest of us.

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Where The Money Went

Some of Walker's money went the way one can expect money to go when you hand millions of dollars to a guy who's barely old enough to drink. He built his family members giant houses, was particularly fond of expensive cars, and hired his own personal wizard (I assume). But the main problem was that Walker, realizing that his basketball career wasn't going to last forever, decided to found a real-estate firm and buy 140 properties in the Chicago area. Which might usually be a good example of smart long-term financial planning, except that he did this in the mid-2000s.

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"Just let me go into the house and poop for a while. I'll have the mortgage payment ready in no time."

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The housing market imploded, and Walker, still busy with the tail end of his NBA career, was unable to pay attention to which of his properties were actually worth something. By 2010, he was bankrupt. Today, Walker has a somewhat stable career as a basketball analyst, but admits that he doesn't even own a car anymore, and is currently reduced to using Uber to get around. Which is probably the most tragic part of this whole story, given that conversations with your Uber driver are awkward enough without the guy recognizing you and asking what happened to your Bentley.

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2
Dave Foley Fathered His Way To Misfortune

Comedian Dave Foley graced our giant boxy TVs throughout the '90s in shows like NewsRadio and Kids In The Hall. He remains active in stand-up, and after his long and storied career lasting three decades, he has managed to accumulate an impressive net worth of ... negative $500,000. In other words, he would have been better off if he'd spent the last 30 years sitting on his sofa in his underwear playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES.

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He'd probably still be trying to finish it.

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Unlike some of the other people in this article, Foley never made any spectacularly bad financial decisions or unwise purchases. Rather, like the flaming wreckage of a car that hit a moose on the highway, Dave's bad situation is due solely to bad timing and being Canadian.

Where The Money Went

In 1997, Foley broke up with his wife and the mother of his two children, who were thankfully the same person. At the time, his career was going great. He was earning about a million dollars a year, largely from his role in NewsRadio. Child support for his kids ran about $17,000 a month, but who cared? When you're earning a million dollars a year, you probably find more than that between your couch cushions after a weekend rich-people party.

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But then disaster struck. NewsRadio was cancelled, and Foley's income dropped quicker than mine almost did when I submitted an article titled "5 Reasons Cracked.com Is For Stupid Jerks." Despite his massively reduced income (according to that link in the first paragraph, he now makes around $4,000 a month), a Canadian judge then ruled that Foley was obliged to keep up the child support payments because his children deserved to live at the comfort level they were accustomed to.

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"Divorce is hard enough on a child without depriving him of the gold-plated prostibot he expects for his 15th birthday."

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If you've ever tried to scrounge together 17,000 dollars in a month, you'll know it's quite an effort (unless you're a spam bot talking about earning money online, in which case, tell us how in the comments). By 2011, Foley was complaining that he couldn't step foot in Canada without being very politely arrested for owing half a million dollars in back payments. We can all learn a valuable lesson from this: Never, ever fall in love and get married. Stay at home at night and read Cracked instead; we'll never leave you.

1
Thomas Jefferson Went Broke Because Of A Million-Dollar Wine Habit

Thomas Jefferson, America's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, is often held up as a demonstration of good old-fashioned American values. Well, apart from the whole "owning slaves" thing.

Via Wikipedia
"All men are created equal. Except that guy."

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Although Jefferson repeatedly disparaged public debt during his lifetime, he wasn't so principled about his own money. He ended up dying broke, with debts of over $100,000. And if you're guessing he spent all his funds on a vast bald eagle breeding program, you're going to be disappointed.

Where The Money Went

Basically, the guy had a taste for really expensive wine. Jefferson became a superfan of the drink while living in France in the 1780s, and after his return to America, the inferior colonial wines no longer cut it. So he did the logical thing and started importing the stuff from Europe. Jefferson was so knee-deep in wine hipsterism that he even imported it in glass bottles rather than in the standard barrels, because he was paranoid that crooked merchants might water it down en route. All this added up to a habit that, in current dollars, cost over a million dollars a year. And here you were feeling guilty for buying the fancy scented hand sanitizer to get drunk on.

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"Finally, payday! Hello Purell, goodbye Dollar General Imitation Germ Weakener!"

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Jefferson's debts were also affected by the fucked-up financial situation in America during much of his lifetime, but he really didn't help things by building a giant-ass house and then constantly renovating it. If a current president spent his money the way Jefferson did, a three-book deal would spontaneously materialize on Bill O'Reilly's nightstand.

C. Coville tweets here and has a book on sale here.

For more proof that celebrities are nuts, check out 5 Insane Things Otherwise Respected Celebrities Believe. And see why Courtney Love is sure to be arrested soon in The 5 Celebrity Arrests We'll Probably See Next.

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