How retired MLB player Bobby Bonilla, 57, is STILL paid £1m-per-year, despite last playing for the NY Mets in 1999
ON July 1 every year since 2011, MLB legend Bobby Bonilla has seen his bank account swell by $1.2million.
But what's incredible is the third baseman hasn't played for the team that pays him – the NY Mets – since 1999.
And even more stunningly, Bonilla, now 57, who was last seen at Shea Stadium 21 years ago, will be paid until he's 72.
It's recognised as the most bizarre contract in sports history, and is linked to the famous Bernie Madoff investment scandal that robbed America's wealthiest men of millions.
In 1998, Bonilla returned to the Mets for a second spell having enjoyed the most success of his career in his first stint.
He was traded with Mel Rojas from the LA Dodgers, and expectation hit fever pitch.
However, he failed to rediscover his form and clashed with manager Bobby Valentine over lack of playing time.
He caused further controversy while his team-mates were playing against the Atlanta Braves, when he was seen sat in the clubhouse playing cards with Rickey Henderson
The Mets decided to cut their losses. Bonilla was released him from his contract with the MLB giants – with $5.9million still owed.
Instead of paying off the rest of the deal, the Mets accepted Bonilla's agent Dennis Gilbert's terms.
They would defer payments until 2011, with an eight per cent annual interest rate.
In total, that amounted to $29.8million – a huge bump-up from the $5.9million that Bonilla was supposed to receive.
And why did the Mets offer to pay almost five times the amount that his contract was worth?
It all boils down to disgraced investment advisor Bernie Madoff.
THE PONZI SCHEME
Fred Wilpon, the majority owner of the Mets, accepted Gilbert's terms for Bonilla because he had invested around $500million with Madoff, who is currently serving a 150-year prison term for fraud.
Madoff was found guilty of setting up aPonzi scheme, a fraudulent investing scam that promises high rates of return with little risk to investors.
It generates returns for early investors by acquiring new investors, similar to a Pyramid scheme – with both using new investors' funds to pay the earlier backers.
Wilpon had banked on getting huge returns from his investments that would dwarf Bonilla's payout.
However, in 2008 after an FBI investigation uncovered Madoff's shady dealings and that the money was gone.
HAPPY BOBBY BONILLA DAY!
At the beginning of July, the Mets pay Bonilla $1.2million.
That fact causes much hilarity in the US sporting world, and they will continue to pay him until the year 2035.
Bonilla, himself, has remained tight-lipped about the deal, but he did reserve some praise for his agent.
"He's a special man Dennis Gilbert," Bonilla told TMZ Sports back in 2018.
"He helped me out with that."
Yes, with the most amazing contract in sporting history.
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