A failed investment in a ponzi scheme by an optimistic Major League baseball team owner has led to the one the best deals an athlete could ever sign.
Long-retired outfielder Bobby Bonilla scored big during his 15-year career in the majors with a deal he signed over 20 years ago with the New York Mets, still paying him out today.
Bonilla was paid $US1.19 million ($A1.72m) by the Mets on Thursday (AEST), the latest payment on an incredible contract he signed with the franchise that will see them pay him a total of $29.8 million ($A29.8m) on an original debt of $5.9 million ($A8.5m).
The deal stipulates the club pay him $1,193,248.20 ($A1.72m) on July 1 every year until 2035, until he’s 72. And here’s the kicker – Bonilla didn’t even play for the team that season leading Mets fans to call July 1 “Bobby Bonilla Day”.
The 57-year-old six-time All-Star played for eight different teams from 1986-2001 and was part of World Series-winning Marlins team in 1997.
In 1991, the Mets made Bonilla the highest paid player in the league for two years after signing him to a five-year deal worth $29 million. The club traded him to Baltimore in 1995.
Bonilla went to Florida in 1997 and after a title run was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sent him back to the Mets after the 1998 campaign.
A poor 1999 season saw the Mets release Bonilla a year before his contract ended, but they still owed him $5.9m ($A8.5m) on his contract.
In a stroke of genius and luck, Bonilla and his agent struck a deal with the Mets that would see Bonilla delay the payment until 2011 and then take the payout annually over time with 8 percent interest.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon took the deal believing the amount would be covered through his investments.
Wilpon was in business with Ponzi scheme scammer Bernie Madoff and thought 10 percent in returns he was getting from the scheme would cover the payout.
But Madoff’s fraudulent operation crumbled and investors lost more than $64 billion ($A92.55bn), leaving the Mets in a precarious position.
Bonilla is scheduled to make more than some MLB players who have been forced to take a pro-rated portion of their salary for a schedule that has been reduced to 60 games per team.