NEW YORK (KDVR) – Imagine leaving your job decades ago, but still getting paid huge sums of money each year. That’s exactly what life is like for former New York Mets player Bobby Bonilla.
Bonilla retired from Major League Baseball in 2001, but more than 20 years later, the 59-year-old is still banking $1.19 million every July 1—a day baseball fans refer to as “Bobby Bonilla Day.” Thanks to an agreement he made with the Mets in 2000, Bonilla earns $1,193,248.20 each year until 2035, when he’ll be 72 years old. That’s more than some of baseball’s young stars will make in a year.
But why do the Mets still pay Bonilla? In 2000, the teams agreed to buy out Bonilla’s contract, negotiating to defer payment of the remaining $5.9 million at 8% interest until 2011, at which point he would earn annual installments of nearly $1.2 million each year, ESPN reported. In total, Bonilla will earn $29.8 million by July 1, 2035.
Why would the Mets agree to such a deal? According to ESPN, the then-owners of the team believed their money could be put to better use by investing with Bernie Madoff—for real—and making a profitable annual return which would negate the 8% they promised Bonilla.
The Mets have taken some flak for the infamous deal over the years, but current Mets owner Steven Cohen doesn’t seem too sore about it. “I hope everybody is enjoying my favorite day of the year, Bobby Bonilla Day,” Cohen tweeted Friday morning.
When Bonilla signed his five-year, $29 million contract with the Mets in 1991, he became the highest-paid National League player at the time. He left the team after the 1995 season, but returned in 1999. He last played in the majors in 2001, when he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Plagued by injuries, he played his final game in October 2001.