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Chad Ochocinco Saved Most of NFL Salary by Wearing Fake Jewelry: "I Went to Claire's"

The wide receiver just opened up about living frugally during his time in the league.

During his time in the NFL, Chad Johnson (known sometimes as Chad Ochocinco) was one of the top wide receivers in the league. And thanks to his talent on the field, he made a lot of money. While some celebrities and athletes blow their millions quickly after becoming famous, Johnson revealed in a new interview that he was able to save the majority of his salary because he didn't feel the need to flaunt his wealth. One surprising way he went about this? Buying fake jewelry, which most players would likely not admit to.

In an interview with Shannon Sharpe for his show Club Shay Shay, Johnson talked about shopping for jewelry at Claire's and flying on budget airlines. Read on to see what he had to say about living frugally while making NFL money.

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Johnson said his famous name was the most valuable thing.

In his interview with Sharpe, Johnson said that flaunting wealth wasn't important to him.

"If you can get to a point in your career where your name becomes bigger than anything you can purchase, there's your value," he said. "Why am I driving a Ferrari? Why am I driving a Rolls Royce and I'm Ocho?"

He later said, "There's nothing I can buy that's bigger than my name alone, so it made no sense. But everybody's caught up in image and looking a certain way and being rich—it's me."

He flew commercial and wore cheap jewelry.

Chad Johnson at The SHAQ Bowl for Super Bowl LV in 2021
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Sharpe tweeted with a clip from the interview that Johnson "saved 83% of his salary by flying Spirit & wearing fake jewelry."

"Fly private? I ain't flying private. Put me on Spirit. Exit row. Window seat. That's all I need," Johnson explained. "As long as I get from point A to point B. I don't need private."

The former football player also opened up about buying inexpensive jewelry at inexpensive mall stores instead of the real deal.

"We talk about jewelry and watches and chains … I never brought real anything when I was playing. Never," he said. "What was the point? I went to Claire's. 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 done Googled how much you making already. Why am I buying a 50-thousand dollar watch, 80-thousand dollar watch?"

He then asked Sharpe what time it was. "How much that cost me? Time is free," the sports star added.

He's shown his loyalty to Claire's before.

In a 2016 interview with In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Johnson tried to claim he was "broke" and "cheap", but was challenged on it by the host. "I had a Ferrari, I had a Lamborghini, and a Phantom," he admitted. "All of them were bought with TV money." Johnson has done some acting, filmed some commercials, and had his own reality dating show, among other projects.

In the interview, he also talked about shopping at Claire's during an episode of the HBO documentary series, Hard Knocks.

"The way I move, the way I live, the lifestyle I've lived over the years, if you've followed me, even if you're a fan, you know I've always shown small instances," he said. "Like, for instance, on Hard Knocks, shopping at Claire's. My jewelry has always been fake. Rolexes, diamonds, everything is cubic zirconia, because it all shines the same when the light hits it. If you already have money, there's no reason to buy anything real."

In 2018, he tweeted, "Buying Claire's earrings w/ a black American Express card on Hard Knocks will forever be classic."

He's been candid about money throughout his career.

Chad Johnson at the Young Hollywood Awards in 2010
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Johnson has opened up about money on numerous occasions throughout his career. During an interview with the podcast Full Send in 2021, he asked the hosts to Google his net worth, which the internet said was $5 million. He then showed them that he had $15 million in his bank account.

He's also made some headlines for his purchases over the years. For instance, in 2011, he was seen driving a customized semi-truck.

After their interview, Sharpe posted a photo Johnson had shared of his luggage—a Rimowa suitcase and Goyard bag—and tweeted, "Expensive luggage for a bargain shopper." That said, given Johnson's comments, they could be knock-offs.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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