Former Olympian Ryan Lochte Explains The Lessons Learned After Going From Millionaire To Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck

Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps in Rio Olympics
Salty View /

Going from the top to the bottom is an easy fall. Former Olympic Gold medal-winner Ryan Lochte knows this journey all too well.

After winning his first gold medal at the age of 20, Lochte became a sports and pop culture star.

Between 2004 and 2016, Lochte won 12 Olympic medals and is one of the world’s most decorated swimmers of all time.

With that success and notoriety came money, including well over $1M per year in endorsements and temptations. An incident at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Summer Olympics earned Lochte a 10-month suspension.

Those charges were recently dismissed.

Two years later, Lochte was suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for receiving an intravenous vitamin B-12 infusion.

All his major sponsors cut ties after both incidents.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Lochte reportedly earned up to $2.3 million per year from his various endorsement deals, including Speedo, Gillette, Gatorade, Ralph Lauren, and Nissan.

In 2021, the 36-year-old swimmer made one final attempt at returning to the Olympics, coming up just short, effectively ending his career in a sport he once dominated.

Lochte fell both professionally and financially, going from earning top money to suddenly living paycheck-to-paycheck. The father of two shared the lessons he learned with CNBC Make It.

‘Putting Money Away, Even If It’s $5’

“You’ve got to be smart,” Lochte told former MLB star Alex Rodriguez on an episode of “Back in the Game” on CNBC.

“Any paycheck that you get, whether it’s $5 or $50,000, you have to put some away, no matter what.”

Ryan Lochte admits that he went from making well over $1 million a year to earning just $75,000 from a single sponsor but still couldn’t keep his spending in check.

“You have to budget your expenses. That’s something that I never did when I was younger — all this money was flowing through, I didn’t have a family at the time, and I was living carefree and buying all this random stuff. And it caught up to me.”

Ryan Lochte Swimming
Leonard Zhukovsky /

‘You’re Not Going To Be Alone Forever’

After getting married, Lochte and his wife downsized and eliminated larger bills.

Lochte sold his Porsche, which was costing him $835 a month, and the couple moved from a 4,200 square-foot home to a 1,800 square-foot apartment.

Lochte admits his spending was out of control when he was younger because “the money just kept pouring in.”

He told CNBC that if he could go back and warn his younger self of one thing, it’s the fact that he wouldn’t be a single guy his entire life.

“You’re not going to be alone your whole life. You’re going to have a family, and that costs money. Having kids costs money. You want to put your kids into a great school, you want to have a great house for them growing up — and all of that is going to add up, so you need to start saving your money now.”

To avoid the same fate as Lochte, get your savings in check with these helpful articles about cutting unnecessary expenses to put more into savings and sticking to a 1% spending rule.

Ryan Lochte’s Current Net Worth

So how much is Ryan Lochte worth now? Well, according to every “credible” source on the internet (and we use that term very loosely, because no one actually knows the exact answer.), Lochte’s worth only around $300,000.

Chris Illuminati

Chris Illuminati is the author of five books and has written about personal finance, wealth, debt management, and entrepreneurship for numerous outlets including Wise Bread, Grow or Die, and Bankrate.