25 Insane Athlete Purchases
So many athletes have it all. Most of us will spend a lifetime trying to scrape together a tiny fraction of what they’ve got in their early 20s. And the sad part is, most of us won’t even get close!
They’ve got the fame. They’ve got the looks. They’ve got the talent. They’ve got the girls. And, of course, they've got the money. And some of them have had it all for so long that they don’t even know what to do with it anymore. For many athletes there seems to be a tipping point where a comfortable home and a nice set of wheels just doesn’t rev the engine like it used to.
It’s starts off small, usually. Some customized details on the Benz. Which leads to another car...or two. Then a new vacation home, so there is somewhere to drive the new cars. And then, before you know it, they’re spending their days in the casino and their nights at home bidding on dinosaur bones on eBay. Which leaves them teetering on the verge of financial ruin for the rest of their days.
It’s probably a finer line than most of us even realize.
Some athletes do a swell job of managing their vast wealth and professional responsibilities. While others fail miserably at the same task. The one thing they have in common is the money burning a hole in the pocket of their designer duds.
We all know that there is only so much money that can be spent on responsible items before temptation takes over. So let's take a look at 25 of the most insane purchases made my professional athletes.
25. Arian Foster: Christmas Segways
Texans running back Arian Foster was signed to a five-year, $43.5 million contract in March 2012, and in December he decided to pass on some of his good fortune to his offensive lineman—in the form of 10 Segways. Yep. Segways.
The last thing I want to do is crap all over Foster’s good intentions, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. A fleet of Segways may sound like a good idea in theory, but I don’t think Foster thought this through as thoroughly as he should have. First of all, a top of the line Segway costs just under $7,000—which is insane.
And then there’s the little issue of the weight limit. I checked out the official website, and the maximum weight Segway can handle is 260 pounds, not to exceed 270 with cargo. Then I checked out the weight of his offensive lineman, and not one of them tips the scale at less than 300 pounds.
Which means that Foster dropped no less than $70,000 on ridiculous scooters for a bunch of dudes who were probably too big for them in high school. I’m sure they appreciated the thought, but he would have been better off just giving them a bag of cash or Starbucks gift cards.
24. Joe Johnson: Sneakers
Before I joined Twitter and started following a bunch of athletes, I had absolutely no idea what a big deal sneakers are for professional athletes. I knew shoes were a big deal for those Sex and the City broads, but had no clue that there so many big macho athletes who suffered with the same affliction.
Lots of big name superstars in the NBA have pretty epic sneaker collections—they have to spend their money on something, right?
Well, I’m pretty sure that nobody has invested more time, money and effort into his sneaker collection than Nets forward Joe Johnson. In August 2012, Dime magazine ran a feature entitled Joe Johnson & The Best Sneaker Collection in the NBA. Let’s just say that Johnson’s 1,000+ pairs of sneakers are living better than you.
The temperature-controlled closet has a fingerprint security device, mirrored ceilings, contains a bed, television and basketball hoop, and is large enough to comfortably fit six or seven friends for chill time. Johnson also revealed that he loves the closet so much that sometimes he naps in it.
23. Alfonso Soriano: Blue Hummer
The Cubs have a lot of overpaid deadweight on their roster, and chief among them has to be left fielder Alfonso Soriano. And chief among the deadweight in Soriano’s life has to be this 2005 Hummer H2. This behemoth eyesore probably looks nothing like the car he purchased back in 2005. No word on what Soriano paid for the car at the dealer, but it was no less than $50,000.
Then he spent four years and over $100,000 tweaking the design. And in 2009, Soriano and his lumped out Cubbie blue Hummer became the subject of national ridicule, when the costly details of this monstrosity hit the web. What do people expect though? It costs a lot of money to look this stupid.
Apparently Soriano is ready to find a new automotive project to dump his bloated paycheck into, because he has been trying to unload this gas guzzler since December 2012. He won’t even come close to matching his investment though, unless he find one helluva a motivated buyer.
If you’re in the market for $36,000 worth of something terrible, place a bid on eBay.
22. Tiger Woods: Mega Mansion
This is one of just two houses on the list because, as expensive as they are, houses are still necessities. Like all tigers, golf great Tiger Woods deserves a den of his own, but his lavish Florida mansion is a bit excessive for a single dad who doesn’t even have primary custody of his children.
He bought the Juniper Island property for $40 million in in 2006 and promptly stunned neighbors by razing the 13 year old mansion that was situated there. Woods spent upwards of $20 million on construction of posh new digs, which are now situated on 10 acres of the oceanfront estate.
The mansion itself consists of five different buildings and includes the main house, guest house, golf training studio, boathouse and a massive garage. Woods also had a private golf course constructed on the property, as well as two boat docks, one of which stores his 155 foot yacht named “Privacy.”
Ugh. Tiger. This is why nobody likes you.
21. Shaquille O'Neal: Customized Superman Luxury Items
Legendary big man Shaquille O’Neal has a net worth upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars, so it’s not really insane to throw down some green to customize luxury items. Shaq is a well-known Superman enthusiast, whose enthusiasm borders on obsession—which is kind of strange for a 40-year-old man.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what Shaq’s Superman customization has set him back. The bed alone is rumored to have cost as much as $15,000 and the tricked out SUV around $45,000. The real insanity is that all these toys have given him the impression that he is actually Superman.
Despite settling into retirement, and working as a prominent analyst, Shaq has been keeping alive his feud with Lakers big man Dwight Howard, over which one of them is the real Superman. Even though it’s quite clear that neither of them are, in fact, Superman.
Somewhere I think I just heard Shaq cry.
20. Cristiano Ronaldo: Car Collection
Like Shaquille O’Neal, Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has far more money than he knows what to do with. He’s one of the highest paid athletes on the planet and has already amassed a net worth approaching $150 million.
Ronaldo must be of the mind that “you can’t take it with you when you die,” which is why he has one of the most expensive hobbies in the world—collecting sports cars. Ronaldo has been collecting cars since 2006 and today he has no less than 20 high-powered, high-priced automobiles.
The highlights of his collection include: Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 ($318,000), Phantom Rolls-Royce ($400,000), Ferrari 599 GTO (also known as the Batmobile, $385,000), and a Bugatti Veyron ($1,700,000). In total, Ronaldo has plunked down no less $5 million for his prized fleet.
That’s an awful lot of fine Italian leather stained orange from bronzer, with accompanying sticky headrests. That’ll hurt his resale value.
19. Kobe Bryant: Cristal Champagne
Longtime Laker Kobe Bryant is one of the highest paid athletes in professional sports, so you can bet your bottom dollar that he’s not losing any sleep over a flippant champagne purchase in 2007.
I’ll probably lose more sleep over this nonsense than he ever did. Wasted booze makes the angels cry. That's what my grandma used to tell me.
Back on track. At the time, Bryant and his wife Vanessa were in Las Vegas for the grand opening of the BLUSH Boutique Nightclub in the Wynn Hotel. Also at the event was poker pro Antonio Esfandiari, who ordered two bottles of Cristal—at a whopping $1,400 a piece. Bryant, never one to be outdone, immediately ordered another five bottles.
Upping the ante, Esfandiari followed suit and upped his order to 10 bottles. A lesser man of lesser means may have just walked away at that point. Bryant actually did walk away, but not before upping his order to 15 bottles—and his bill to $21,000—and ducking out of the club without even a sip.
Oh, Kobe. You have far too much money.
18. Mike Tyson: White Tigers
It’s no secret that retired boxer Mike Tyson wasn’t very prudent when it came to his finances at the height of his career. Which is why he is one of just two athletes to appear on this list twice. A dubious distinction, indeed.
If you aren’t completely aware of his bankruptcy situation, let me just say that his half-corked decision to buy a trio of genetically deficient Bengal tigers, and keep them as pets, is one of his better investments.
At least tigers have some resale value. Bankruptcy reports in 2003 revealed that Tyson purchased the three big cats for $140,000 simoleons. Also revealed was the monthly cost of caring for them: $4,000...per tiger. So basically...they were $140,000 down...and $144,000 a year...for however long the tigers remained in his possession.
On what planet does that sound like a desirable deal for pet ownership! Really puts that kitten your girlfriend wants in perspective, doesn’t it?
17. Jack Clark: 1990 F-40 Ferrari
Retired major leaguer Jack Clark is proof that high-earning athletes inexplicably filing for bankruptcy is nothing new. In 1992 Clark was in the second year of a three-year deal, worth $8.7 million, with the Red Sox. It was also the year that he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California, listing $6.7 million in debts.
Much of his debt came from automobile purchases or investments in automobile business ventures gone bad. Clark owned 17 cars, all of which cost over $100,000, and most of which he still owed money on.
In a situation like this, you might not think that one car would stand out as a bigger mistake than the others, but you would definitely be wrong. The 1990 Ferrari F40 that he purchased for $717,000, the year before filing for bankruptcy, is approximately 7x worse financial decision than the rest of his cars.
I know cars are a pretty big deal, but who needs this many of them? It doesn’t matter how much money I had—the only way I’d pay $717,000 for a car is if it came with a briefcase in the backseat stuffed with no less than $650,000 in cash.
16. Chad Johnson: Semi Truck
If you guessed that Chad Johnson would be joining the elite ranks of “Iron” Mike Tyson as the only athletes to make the list twice...well then huzzah! You know your financial trainwrecks!
I’ll get into the finer points of Johnson’s bleak monetary situation when we revisit him later.
For now, let’s just focus on the ridiculous semi truck he bought himself as a present for his 32nd birthday in 2011. Shockingly, Johnson didn’t reveal the price of this beastly vehicle, but it set him back no less than $100,000. Plus whatever additional cost came with customizing the cab and emblazoning his name on the side.
Hopefully semi trucks retain more of their value than normal sized automobiles. Lord knows Johnson is going to need some of this money back to pay child support in a few years.
15. Latrell Sprewell: Luxury Yacht
Unlike tricked out sports cars and SUVs, which start depreciating in value the moment you sign on the dotted line, boats actually aren’t a terrible investment. If you’re responsible, gainfully employed, and know what you’re doing. Unfortunately for former NBA player Latrell Sprewell, he possesses none of those qualities.
Sprewell was forced into early retirement in 2005, after turning down a $21 million contract extension on the grounds that it wasn’t enough money to feed his family. His family must eat an awful lot. The Timberwolves countered their first offer with zero dollars and sent him on his way. Which gave him more time to party on his $1.5 million Italian yacht, hilariously named “Milwaukee’s Best.”
Hopefully Sprewell enjoyed a full year of living the life on what remained of his NBA earnings, because the yacht was grounded and repossessed by Federal Marshals after he was unable to make the payments. It was sold at auction for $856,000—leaving Sprewell with a $295,138 balance due.
Talk about fiscal responsibility. He really could have used some of the money he sunk into that boat when his home was foreclosed on a year later.
14. Michael Vick: Swanky Fish Pond
Aside from the large-scale dog fighting operation that he funded, Michael Vick’s second worst investment has to be the $85,000 he spent on a custom fish pond (and the additional $48,257 he spent for landscaping) for his home in the weeks before going to jail.
Vick’s bankruptcy report shows that he was bleeding out money at an uncontrollable pace at the time. So why he thought the best way to get back on track was by dumping money into a fish pond...well...that’s anybody’s guess. Vick, rather impressively, managed to burn through over $3.5 million in the six months prior to the start of his prison term.
No doubt he’s going to miss that money in the years to come. I hope he really enjoyed hanging out with those fish.
13. Allen Iverson: Jewels
Former NBA point guard Allen Iverson's money struggles have been well documented over the last few years.
According to reports, he earned over $200 million over the course of his career in the NBA, but today is flat broke. His money problems were just coming to light in 2010, right around the time he purchased a $4.5 million mansion in Atlanta, GA—the same home he is currently fighting to keep out of foreclosure.
The main problem is that Iverson has been out of the NBA for a few years now, but he's still spending like an NBA player. He's only bringing in about $60,000 a month playing ball in China, but still maintains monthly expenditures of over $350,000. Which doesn't include the cost divorce he's in the midst of.
What is stunningly insane about Iverson's predicament is that, despite literally being on the brink of financial ruin, he still finds time to go jewelry shopping! His wages are currently being garnished to pay off old debts to his jewelry and his wife has accused of him of paying for diamonds, when she can't pay for rent.
I've never understood the fascination with diamonds. I didn't understand it when Marilyn Monroe sang about them. And I sure as hell don't understand a grown ass man with a compulsion for spending money he doesn't have on sparkly rocks he doesn't need.
12. Andre Rison: Jewels
Wide receiver Andre Rison played 13 seasons in the NFL. In 1995 the Browns signed him to a five-year contract worth $17 million, which was the largest contract ever for a wideout. During the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke, Rison spoke candidly about his spending habits during his career.
As if still trying to figure out where all the money went, Rison seemed to surprise even himself as he recounted his financial misadventures. Of all the ways Rison flushed his money down the toilet, the $1 million he guarantees he spent on jewelry definitely stands out among them.
Maybe it wouldn’t seem as insane if things had worked out better for him. After all, I can’t imagine that Deion Sanders spent any less than $1 million on sparkly accessories over the course of his career. But he’s still got a job. And a house.
Like his career, Rison's house burned down in the '90s too.
11. Chris Johnson: Golden Teeth
Titans running back Chris Johnson’s infamous gold teeth aren’t quite on par with many of the other lavish expenditures on this list. Actually, I’m not even entirely sure how much that grotesque yellow grin set him back.
After some tedious research online, my best estimate for the value of Johnson’s six gold teeth is somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,100 ($1,350 per tooth). That’s an awful lot of money to drop on something so hideous. The good news is that Johnson is probably more punctual with his permanent gold teeth.
Prior to the implants, he reportedly wore a gold grill and missed the Titans team bus to the stadium in 2009, after returning to his hotel room to retrieve the golden dentures. Oy vey. Johnson better save some of that big money he’s making, because I don’t think he’ll be working much in the real world.
So next time you’re late for work, just tell your boss you forgot your gold grill at home and had to go back. He or she will totally understand.
10. Evander Holyfield: Atlanta Mega Mansion
Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield amassed $250 million in earnings over the course of his lucrative career. He probably assumed a quarter of a billion dollars was more money than he could burn through in two lifetimes, let alone one.
But as it turns out, the only thing Holyfield was better at than boxing was shoveling his money into a metaphorical black hole.
Holyfield’s biggest financial misstep (besides his 11 kids) was the purchase of a 235-acre estate in Fayette County, GA. Who knew the upkeep associated with a 54,000-square-foot 109-room mega-mansion situated on a massive farm would be so costly? (See: Everyone except Evander Holyfield.) In 2008 he was sued for $500,000 in unpaid landscaping fees.
Holyfield spent much of the next few years with the property in and out of foreclosure, until he was finally booted for good in 2012. It’s unclear how much of his fortune he threw into this financial fire over the years, but he’s still underwater. The property sold for just $7.5 million at auction, which was just over half of the $14 million Holyfield still owed on it.
If he had only consulted the Tom Hanks' classic real estate folly, The Money Pit, this whole nasty situation could have been avoided.
9. Scottie Pippen: Gulfstream Jet
It’s hard for me to even imagine a life in which the purchase of a private jet is a plausible scenario. But I’m going to try to use my imagination, in an attempt to understand the circumstances that led to retired Bulls great Scottie Pippen’s ill-fated purchase of a $4.3 million Gulfstream jet in 2002.
The decision to purchase an airplane doesn’t seem like something that most people would make on a whim. What happened is that Pippen forked over $4.3 million of his hard-earned greenbacks for a jet that he thought could fly. But instead he got a jet that needed $1 million worth of repairs and could not, in fact, fly.
The jet was grounded for years while Pippen pursued a lawsuit against his own lawyer, who he blamed for missing the inspection. He was later awarded $2 million for his troubles. So...I guess it all kinda worked out in the end for Pippen.
I just can’t seem to understand how it’s even possible to buy a private jet without making sure it can fly, first. Hopefully lessons were learned. But who are we kidding? They probably weren't.
8. Warren Sapp: Everything He's Ever Bought, Apparently
If there’s one thing I learned from retired defensive tackle Warren Sapp’s bankruptcy declaration, it’s that he is kind of a weirdo.
I realize that my life not look too swell after being seized by the IRS and auctioned off in a public venue. But, then again, I don’t really have anything worth seizing. Nor will I ever amass $6.5 million in assets and $6.7 million in debt, as he has.
I’m just not that motivated a buyer. Sapp, on the other hand, is a pretty easy sell and had a few prized possessions that caught the evil eye of Uncle Sam—including his Florida mansion. Sapp has always been very outspoken, and a borderline bully, which is why I think so many people took such glee in reporting about his other possessions.
AOL Sporting News likened his shoe collection to that of noted shoe enthusiast Imelda Marcos. Among his other possessions auctioned off were a lion skin rug (a necessity), a large painted of a nude woman (essential), a collection of watches (fundamental), and a boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali (like oxygen).
Perhaps all of those purchases made more sense at the time, but when you put them all together, it definitely looks pretty insane.
7. Eddy Curry: Cable...Seriously
Eddy Curry is a bright shining beacon that is representative of everything that people who think there is something is wrong with sports, is wrong with sports. He’s chronically overweight and needed to lose 100 pounds in 2011, just to be able to play basketball again.
Which proves he’s unapologetically lazy, because it’s not easy for a 30-year-old professional athlete to keep 100 pounds of weight on—it takes dedication. He’s ridiculously overpaid and has been raking in $20 million large per season for the last several years. Despite the fact that he’s a noted underachiever who never lived up to the talent and promise he once had.
Curry is also very flippant with his finances and has had his wages garnished on a number of occasions to pay off bad debts. His expenses became public domain when he claimed that he was unable to afford the loan payments in 2010. A claim that a Manhattan judge wasn’t having any of.
Most of what was revealed was your average athlete over-indulgence stuff, but the one monthly expense that really stood out was the $1,075 he pays for cable. Perhaps that’s a special professional athlete rate they use to upcharge dummies who don’t read their bills?
6. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: $16 Million Necklace
Sometimes I forget that Floyd Mayweather is a boxer, because I’ve never actually seen him box. I've seen him on the arm of Justin Bieber before and after boxing.
I’ve seen him and gal-pal 50 Cent play telephone using giant stacks of money. I’ve read about him and gal-pal Ray J, of Kim Kardashian sex tape fame, spending $50,000 in one night at an Atlanta strip club.
I’ve seen video of him actually burning money at an Atlanta nightclub. I’ve seen him and 50 Cent, the Robin to his Batman, publicly gloat about tax evasion. I’ve seen him go on a number of homophobic and/or racist rants directed at Manny Pacquiao. I’ve seen him arrested countless times for abusing women.
I’ve seen him bragging about the massive amounts of money he’s been gambling away enough to know that he has a serious problem. I’ve seen him and the man I thought was his hetero life mate, 50 Cent, engage in a bitter tweet war over Floyd Money spending his...money...on “hoe’s,” which may have ended their friendship forever.
I’ve seen all of that! But I never thought I’d see the day when Mayweather spends $16 million on an engagement ring for a woman who will likely send him back to jail at some point in the near future.
I don’t anticipate any happily ever afters here, but it’s just nice to see Floyd dropping Money on something besides diamonds and furs...for himself.
5. Gilbert Arenas: Shark Tanks
Ever since the 2009 incident in which he brandished a gun at one of his Wizards teammates over a poker debt, Gilbert Arenas has struggled with gainful employment. He managed to dodge jail time in the felony gun case, but he was shipped off to the Magic less than a year later.
He was waived by the Magic and played a portion of the 2012 season with the Grizzlies, before being relegated to the Chinese Basketball Association. Signing with the Shanghai Sharks in November 2012 meant that Arenas had to say goodbye to his Virginia mansion, as well as his prized pet sharks.
In happier times, on the heels of a $111 million contract in 2008, Arenas spent a small fortune on the construction of the massive aquarium. He stocked the tank with ridiculously expensive sharks, which came with a monthly maintenance bill of $6,500—to feed and care for.
Arenas put the house on the market in July 2012 for $3.5 million, but it’s unclear if the sharks are still alive.
Here’s my guess: No. Gilbert probably shot them all over gambling debts.
4. Vince Young: Chartered a Public Flight
After former first-round draft pick out of Texas, Vince Young was released by the Bills prior to the start of the 2012 regular season, and reports about his unfortunate financial situation began to surface. Like many young guys who have come before him, it seems Young has burned through most, if not all, of the $26 million guaranteed to him in his rookie contract.
Much of what has been reported about his spending habits is purely conjecture at this point, consisting mainly of Nashville area spies who have talked to a number of media outlets about Young’s penchant for dropping massive amounts of money at chain restaurants like TGI Friday's and the Cheesecake Factory.
There is at least one instance of ridiculous reckless spending from 2007 that should have had the responsible adults in Young’s life wondering about his decision making abilities. He had to travel from Houston to Nashville and decided he wanted to do so alone, so he bought up 120 of 130 tickets on a Southwest Airlines flight—all in the name of some peace and quiet.
Yes, Southwest is a discount airline. But even at their bare minimum web price for this flight, there’s no way it cost any less than $22,000. If a normal person wanted some peace and quiet, they would just make the 12-hour drive from Houston to Nashville.
3. Marquis Daniels: Marquis Daniels Necklace
In 2009, Bucks forward Marquis Daniels had a creative, yet ultimately terrible, idea for a piece of jewelry: a 3-D diamond and gold pendant, which would be a replica of his very own dome. Daniels took this idea to Jason of Beverly Hills, a crackpot jeweler who caters “to diamond-loving trendsetters and the high-fashion jewelry market” and invites “clients to design their own customized pieces.”
Not a bad business—there is a sucker born every minute, after all. The costly eyesore was created with a 3-D lasering image process. The head is made from 1300 grams of 14k gold, white and cognac diamonds. Those cold dead eyes were created from porcelain and the dreads from back diamond chains.
Reports didn’t reveal the price of this shrunken head, but the market price for 1.3 kilograms of 14k gold today is over $40,000. So...cover that in diamonds...tack on labor costs...and there’s no way this thing cost any less than $60,000. Take into consideration that a sucker with a vision is a prime target for overcharging, and it could have very well cost double that.
Something tells me it won’t hold its value during the bankruptcy auction.
2. Chad Johnson: Custom Fish Tanks
Things simply haven’t gone well for Chad Johnson over the last year. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. Let’s review:
He was a non-factor in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants, then he was released by the Patriots, then he was signed by the Dolphins, then he was arrested for domestic battery, then he was released by the Dolphins, then it was reported that he was facing foreclosure on his Miami condo, and then he was sued by a former employee for unpaid services.
And that was just through August 2012! That stretch of bad luck may be enough to sideline those of us living in the real world. But since Johnson lives in a fantasy land with bottomless stacks of money, he had no problem bouncing back. Perhaps his positive attitude has something to do with his under the sea escape hatch?
This over-the-top custom tank is the work of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing owners King and Raymer, who have their own reality show called Tanked on Animal Planet. It’s not clear if Johnson had to actually pay for this structure or if the brothers did it for publicity and the opportunity to take pictures in front of his Lamborghini.
Whether or not he paid for the parts and labor is irrelevant, because he’ll be paying out the nose every month just to keep that thing functioning. And I’d be willing to wager a large sum of money that those fish are all dead by now.
1. Mike Tyson: A Bathtub
White tigers aren’t the only thing that boxing great Mike Tyson blew his fortune on. According to bankruptcy reports, in just a few years Tyson dropped well over $10 million on cars and motorcycles, jewelry and clothes, as well as lavish parties and home furnishings. Although, at least he (presumably) got to enjoy those things himself for a period of time.
I can’t imagine there’s quick chunk of money Tyson would like to get back more than the $2 million he spent on a bathtub for his ex-wife Robin Givens. He gave her the bathtub, which I can only imagine was made of solid gold, on the same birthday that he threw her a $410,000 party.
Personally, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable about reaping additional birthday benefits from someone who was crazy enough to spend $2 million on a bathtub. But hey, maybe that’s just me. The financial reports don’t give any in-depth details about this mythical bathing bucket, which is a shame.
I did a little bathtub research online, and the most expensive bathtub I could find is $1.74 million Le Grand Queen—which is said to be 180 million years old, the minerals of which were dug out of the most perilous terrain in Indonesia by 200 people over the course of 600,000 hours.
So...uh...I hope Tyson’s bathtub was pretty freaking special.
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