Chad Ochocinco Explains How Frugality Kept Him Wealthy Even After Retiring From NFL

The former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver star says he made lifestyle decisions early in his career that paid off.

Fake jewelry, living in the Cincinnati Bengals’ team facility and taking cheap flights early in his career are some of the ways Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson saved 83 percent of his NFL salary.

“Fly private? I ain’t flying private,” he said on Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” podcast. “Put me on Spirit. Exit row. Window seat. That’s all I need,” Johnson told retired NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe. “As long as I get from point A to point B. I don’t need private.”

“I never brought real anything when I was playing. Never. What was the point? I went to Claire’s,” Johnson said. “For what? What am I doing it for? The women are going to deal with you anyway, because of who you are, and then the other women, who are really doing their homework, Googled how much you making already. Why am I buying a $50,000 watch, $80,000 dollar watch?”

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Johnson, 45, said his self-worth wasn’t based on driving luxury cars or getting caught up in looking rich.

“If you can get to a point in your career where your name becomes bigger than anything you can purchase, there’s your value,” Johnson explained.

He does, however, lavish his children with high-end clothes and gifts because he saved the lion’s share of his NFL salary and has income from other sources.

“I allow the kids to enjoy, but I need for them to understand, there will come a time,” Johnson said.

Sharpe, letting out a thundering laugh, interjected, “Get off daddy’s payroll.”

Johnson is also known for leaving big tips at restaurants, including a $1,000 tip at Redlands Grill in Norwood, Ohio, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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The Bengals selected the Oregon State wide receiver in the second-round (36th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played 10 seasons with Cincinnati before playing for the New England Patriots for one season. He finished his career with 766 catches for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. The Miami native earned six Pro Bowl selections and was a two-time First-Team All-Pro.

Below is an extended clip of Johnson’s chat with Sharpe.

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