Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Rulon Gardner is $3 million dollars in debt, and bankrupt. His income 12 years after he won the gold in 2000? Just $37, 392.
His debt total is inflated, Gardner says, arguing that a $400,000 loan on his books was actually co-signed by a real estate partner who is sitting in jail.
“I got involved in a Ponzi scheme with a lady serving time in federal prison,” Gardner told the Associated Press.
Gardner filed for bankruptcy after years of failed business ventures attempting to exploit his Olympic success.
According to bankruptcy trustee David. L. Miller, Gardner will be pleading his case before a judge on Oct. 10. Presuming he’s granted bankruptcy protection, Gardner’s Harley-Davidson, Ford SUV and everything else of value he owns will be up for grabs during a Salt Lake City auction.
His Olympic gold medal is not for sale, however: Cache Country, Utah Sheriff Brad Slater told AP that it can’t be located. Gardner insists that it was stolen.
The medal was not his only possession reported missing. Slater said deputies could also not locate Gardner’s Jeep during a court-ordered seizure of his Wellsville, Utah home in August.
Gardner is now trying to buy everything back and avoid a public auction, he said, “but my money is tied up in a lot of businesses.”
He won the gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, breaking Russian Alexander Karelin’s 13-year winning streak as a wrestling heavyweight. Gardner was also the 2001 wrestling world champion and bronze medal during the the 2004 Athens Olympic games.
Money is not the only thing Gardner lost. He also shed 173 pounds on the “Biggest Loser” TV show. And in 2002, he himself was lost while snowmobiling, only to be rescued 18 hours and one middle toe later.
His other post-Olympic accomplishments include staying alive after a motorcycle accident and a plane crash, and having a 1.5-pound hamburger named after him.