John Dal: I Blew Tens Of Million Dollars On Gambling

John Daly was a legendary golfer whose off-the-course exploits were as explosive as his game. Before we get into how he blew tens of million dollars on gambling, let’s find out how it all began!

Early Life

John Daly was born in the city of Carmichael, California, back in 1966 and but it wasn’t until his family moved to Arkansas that he started playing golf, when he was just 4 years old.

His family moved around a lot when he was a kid and but the one constant he kept in his life was golf. Starting golf at such a young age made Daly a prodigy So much so that he won his first golf tournament when he was only 13!

He beat out all the adult male members at the local golf club he played at Obviously that’s not a good feeling for any rich guy with an ego, As soon as that happened, the club changed its rules to not allow kids to play in the tourneys!

He continued to hone his skills and eventually, Daly went to college at the University of Arkansas on a golf scholarship but he ended up not finishing school.


It was a combination of his drinking and partying. The fact that he was good enough to go pro.

In 1987 was when he started his infamous career as the bad boy of golf! Daly looked like the complete OPPOSITE of a golfer at a country club, He fit in more at a local dive bar in the middle of nowhere And it was this look, his infamous lifestyle choices, and his reputation of being the biggest hitter on the PGA tour that made him a superstar to nontraditional golf fans back then!

Professional Volatility

Part of what made Daly famous among all fans was his unpredictable play.

He could play exceptionally well one day while playing absolutely terribly the next day. To perfectly illustrate this, take what happened at the Bay Hill Invitational back in 1998.

On one particular hole, Daly famously hit six different balls into the water! But then he just calmly birdied the next hole as if nothing had happened! Then there were his unpredictable decisions.

In the 2000 US Open, he hit three balls into the water, and then he hit another back out of bounds. Even though he could have had a respectable finish, he just withdrew from that tournament after an opening round of 83! Then there were the anger issues.

At the Australian PGA Championship in 2002, he threw his putter AND ball into the pond at the 18th hole after he finished the round.

He did this with the entire golf world watching!

He was later disqualified because he didn’t sign his scorecard and he had also verbally abused a tour official. That led to a fine and a subsequent apology letter he had to write.

This wasn’t his only fine in Australia. In fact, Daly probably hates Australia. During the 2008 Australian Open, he broke a fan’s camera by smashing it into a tree in a fit of anger!

Then at the Australia Open AGAIN in 2011, Daly walked off out of the tournament after hitting seven balls in a row into the water. All these are examples of what could happen with Daly on and off the course!

However, Daly at his best was a championship-level golfer.

He could have easily won many more Majors had he completely focused on golf. His talent alone most likely put him on the PGA Tour.

Personal Volatility

Daly’s personal life has been on full display in the media ever since he turned professional. One of his most well-known personal stories happened in June 2007. Daly and his fourth wife got into a heated argument at a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee during one of his tournaments.

His wife went after him with a steak knife during the argument! He started the second round of the tournament with visible cuts on his face the next day. Then there are countless incidents with alcohol.

Daly has been very blunt about how alcohol took a toll on his career and life in general. He’s admitted that he’s played a lot of golf while hungover or even still drunk from the night before. And one time, he admitted to pounding 5 beers in between holes during the LA Open! But the come to Jesus moment for Daly arguably came in 2008.

Daly was taken into custody by local police in Winston-Salem North Carolina after they found him hammered outside a Hooters. They actually didn’t charge him with anything, but they released his mugshot to the press. That incident and the negative press were the final straw for Daly. He committed to quitting alcohol after that incident.

Earlier that same year, his coach Butch Harmon had quit because Daly’s problems with alcohol had become unbearable for him.


Then there was the gambling. Daly had a reputation as a reckless gambler. He admitted that gambling addiction nearly ruined his life. One famous gambling story didn’t have anything to do with him losing, but actually winning!

Daly once threw $55 thousand dollars he had won at a casino off a bridge.


Because he was having another huge fight with his wife Sherrie.

Well, ex-wife Sherrie.

Ironically, the fight started because she was complaining about how he kept losing money gambling. So just to spite her, he threw the money off a bridge while they were both in the car!

Daly reminded her that he was the one paying all the bills, and she wasn’t working. So she had no right to be complaining.

On top of all that, Daly then had one of his friends drive her to McDonald’s and show her how difficult it was to eat on a budget as some sort of lesson for her to learn.

He said he felt Sherrie wasn’t appreciative of all the things he had done to support her and pay for everything in her life.

Amazingly, Sherrie ended up going back and she was able to find the cash.

And yes, this is the same wife who did all the damage to him with a steak knife!

They eventually got divorced in 2010, after a string of public fights that ended with her running away with their son.

This was Daly’s fourth divorce.

Earning power

So how much money did Daly make?

According to the PGA Tour, Daly has earned roughly $10.2 million dollars in his more than 25 years as a professional golfer. Then there are the millions of dollars he’s made with endorsement deals and media work. That makes sense because Daly has admitted on ESPN’s 30 for 30 that he’s lost an estimated 55 million dollars from gambling! Amazingly, for supposedly blowing all those millions gambling, Daly has only made over 7 figures a year from golfing twice, in 2004 and 2005.

The rest of the money he made came from endorsements and appearances.

For example, Wilson signed him to a 10 million dollar deal after his surprise PGA championship win in 1991. There was also the deal with Reebok, which paid him half a million dollars a year for around 6 years. There were numerous other deals without clear numbers, such as the endorsement he had with Hooters restaurant.

The Rush Everything changed for John when he had one of the biggest wins of his life in 1991 at the PGA Championship.

The ironic thing was, he wasn’t even supposed to have played in the tournament. He was the ninth alternate! He got in because Nick Price’s wife was having a baby at that time. Winning his first Major made Daly $230,000 grand. That was nearly 40% more than what he had made TOTAL the year before!

This was around the time when reckless spending started. As an example, he donated $30,000 dollars to the family of Tom Weaver. He was a fan who was struck by lightning while on the course during the PGA Championship that year! Because he won, Daly felt obligated to help his family out since Weaver left behind kids and a wife. There’s no denying that Daly had a big heart. But sometimes his financial decisions didn’t make the most sense.

Couple his emotional decisions along with a fixation on alcohol, and losing money quickly became a problem for Daly.

Daly loved to chase a rush. And gambling was something that gave Daly that rush. He’s openly said that he liked to quote “take chances”, and the excitement of not knowing what was gonna happen was what he loved. Amex Championship Rush It was simply the action of gambling that was more alluring than the actual result.

Daly only wanted the adrenaline and he didn’t care about winning the money.

He simply loved the action.

One of his most famous gambling stories happened after he lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in 2005. That was the American Express Championship, where he got runner up. But he still earned $750,000 thousand for getting second, but that money he won didn’t last long at all!

Instead of heading home from San Francisco, Daly headed to Wynn Casino in Las Vegas and sat down at a $5,000 dollar per play slot machine. Within half an hour, he lost $600,000 grand!

He promptly took out a $600,000 dollar line of credit and burned through that too. By the time he was done, he had lost roughly $1.65 million dollars in only five hours at the Wynn!

Gambling Totals

All the millions Daly lost were done in a span of 17 years. From 1991 to 2007, Daly lost on average $3.2 million a year. How did he know so much about his losses?

According to his autobiography ‘My Life in and out of the Rough…’, Daly used his tax records to figure out the amount of money he had lost during his gambling sprees.

He ran the numbers and determined that his actual gambling losses were roughly $90 million dollars, compared to the $35 million in gambling wins. The numbers were so staggering and sobering, that it even shocked Daly himself!

He had only estimated the figures in his head before actually sitting down to look at the truth on his tax records. Daly’s net gambling losses from 1991-2007 totaled around $55 million dollars. In his head, he had thought it might have been twenty or maybe even 25 million. He had no idea that it was actually more than double that! But, Daly took consolation that his big losses weren’t completely useless. Since gambling winnings are fully taxable, he could also claim his losses. But the caveat was, he couldn’t report more in losses than he claimed in winnings.

In other words, unfortunately for Daly, he couldn’t use his net loss to offset other income!

Let’s face it, Daly simply had a gambling problem.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that when he was gambling hard, he’d sometimes play as many as seven different hands of blackjack at the same time, with $10 to $15 thousand riding on each hand!

Although Daly has had an up-and-down career and life in general, he’s moved on from all of it.

Health Gambling, drinking and Daly’s obsession with Diet Coke was the constant topics in the media. Daly claims that at one point he drank over 500 gallons of Diet Coke a year! He used to drink anywhere from 12-20 Diet Cokes per day. But there’s the time when Daly lost almost 70 pounds on the tried and true diet of…….popcorn and whisky?! This was a story he revealed during his ESPN 30 for 30 interviews.

As a teenager in Arkansas, Daly was told he needed to lose some weight if he wanted to play college golf. So in a matter of 2 and a half months, he lost a whopping 67 pounds with a diet of popcorn and Jack Daniels! He was drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels a day for about six months straight!

Supposedly Steve Loy, his golf coach at the time, told him that if he wanted to really forget about his appetite, he should smoke a cigarette or two.

Daly may have taken this one a little too far.

Because that’s when he started smoking a habit that’s lasted him over 30 years and counting. In his autobiography, he claims to smoke two to two-and-a-half packs a day. Obviously, Daly’s approach to dieting is something no one should do. It was as reckless as it gets! And of course, the weight didn’t stay off. It started coming back fast especially in 1995 when he decided to go sober.

Daly started eating a lot to suppress his need for alcohol.

John Daly 2021

where’s Daly now today?

He’s still playing golf, and he still gets paid to do appearances. And he also sells his own memorabilia himself out of his tour bus all around the country! However, bad news struck in September of 2020. Daly found out that he had bladder cancer.

He went to see a doctor to check on what he thought was kidney stones, but his doctor found cancer instead. He had surgery to remove the mass, but the chances of it returning is around 85%. But that’s not stopping Daly from continuing golfing today. He’s still making an effort to eat better, but he’s still having a problem giving up his Diet Coke.

As a personal mission, Daly has decided to let his beard grow out until he’s completely cancer-free.

Here’s what’s next!

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Media Operations Manager of I’m a therapist and emotion specialist and I am passionate about helping people understand the world of emotions, I like to write about self-improvement and achieving excellence.