This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Dec. 8 Big Money Issue. Subscribe today!
WE HEAR A lot about the big spenders, the athletes popping bottles and flying private jets ... to dinner. But do they actually do that? We decided to find out, asking six athletes -- from a millionaire NBA baller to a college swimmer -- to track every purchase they make. Turns out, it's lots of Chipotle and online shopping. Stars: They really are just like us!
The driver of IndyCar's No. 28 DHL Honda and owner of two consecutive Best Driver ESPY Awards is wrapping up another fine year that saw him earn $3.3 million in prize money alone. He notched three IndyCar wins, including the Indy 500, in his main gig for Andretti Autosport, while earning two podium finishes with his Viper GTS-R side ride. All that wheel work, coupled with sponsor obligations, can lead to hectic weeks -- and high costs -- for Hunter-Reay's traveling circus.
Primary gig: IndyCar driver of No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport
2014 salary: In 2014, $3.3 million in prize money alone
Residence: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Dependents: Wife Rebecca; son Ryden, 2; two golden retrievers
How would you describe your lifestyle?
I'm on the road all the time, with constant travel week to week. At home we're laid-back, relaxed. The difference between racing and other sports is I'm a corporate brand representative as well. Aside from my obligations to my team, I have obligations to my sponsors, including my primary sponsor DHL, plus Honda and many others.
Estimate what percentage of your paycheck goes into savings?
Right now, it's probably around 65-70 percent. We have the house paid off, and we're not buying many toys except for Ryden.
What's your most baller possession?
I'd say the boat. I have a 36 Yellowfin with triple Honda 250s on the back. Other than my family, this boat gets most of my attention.
Most costly habit?
The boat. It's the fuel, really.
Biggest purchase you've made recently?
We're redoing the bathrooms in our house. That's expensive. It's amazing how much a bathroom can cost.
Dumbest purchase you've made recently?
Dumb is a relative term, I guess. But recently I spent $2,000 to fill up the boat with fuel to run to the Bahamas and back, and I also bought a huge Snap-On tool chest and a bunch of tools for roughly $8,000. I rationalized the purchase by telling myself good tools last a lifetime, but not many will see it that way.
Now, about your diary: Is this pretty representative of a typical stretch in your life, or is it a crazy-busy week?
It's representative to an extent, but this was an exceptionally busy week. I went from racing the Viper GTS-R in Atlanta (side gig), straight to New York for a Tommy Hilfiger shoot, straight to a DHL appearance in New Jersey, straight to Manhattan for another DHL appearance, straight to Cincy for another DHL appearance, then to Indy for a team meeting. And expense-wise, this week was high because I had my family with me too.
So how does this work -- you pay for all of these expenses out of your own pocket, then invoice some of it back to team or sponsor?
Yeah, that's how most of it works. Anything that's on a sponsor or the team's time gets invoiced back to the team. A day off in between is on me. So I can invoice a lot of the expenses on this diary.
$350: Generator share fee for bus
$412: Diesel fuel for RHR Newell Bus
$807.64: Clothing, Bloomingdale's
$74.56: Gas for Hertz car rental return
$284.86: Car rental, Hertz
"I'm in a different city every day, so by now I'm used to the whole rental car scenario. I've never had the urge to race it on a beach like in Days of Thunder, but I've definitely wanted to race my teammates. Race car drivers and rental cars are not a good mix."
$1,254.16: Business class airfare for two, Atlanta to NYC, Delta Air Lines
"My wife, Rebecca, our almost-2-year-old son, Ryden, and I flew to New York for a Tommy Hilfiger shoot and a DHL event. Sometimes we do three seats in coach, but here two in business was cheaper."
$19.89: Miscellaneous, Duane Reade
$365: SUV with child seat to hotel
$15: Check in luggage with bellman, Ritz-Carlton
$83.80: Dinner, Trattoria Dell'Arte
$31.79: Gym monthly membership fee
$226: SUV to photo shoot
$88: Lunch, Rue 57
$119: Overnight delivery, helmet
"I got a last-second request from Hilfiger to have my helmet at the shoot. The photos will be in Tommy's next catalog."
$67.85: Miscellaneous, Duane Reade
$609.39: Clothing, Bergdorf Goodman
$688.99: iPhone6, Apple
"That's the initial cost, but I'll get a discount in a few weeks since I extended my contract."
$49: Dinner, Sarabeth
$39.95: In-flight wireless monthly fee
$20.64: Toy, FAO Schwarz
"Ryden always has a good time at FAO -- you should see him dance on the big piano like Tom Hanks. Usually we'll go crazy with toys, but this time Ryden took one thing off the rack, and it was just a small car."
$127.56: Dinner, room service
$512.37: Town car to and from Newark, New Jersey, for DHL appearance
$49: Lunch, Sarabeth
$238: Town car, Ritz-Carlton to LaGuardia (Becky, Ryden)
$24.83: Food, LaGuardia (Becky, Ryden)
$1,078.20: Business class airfare (Becky, Ryden) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida
$6,605.66: Hotel bill, Ritz-Carlton
"Some of this will get expensed, but I'll pay for a portion since it's a larger room for the family. But you'd be surprised, it wasn't huge -- New York is just expensive."
$228: Car to DHL dinner
$274.21: Car from dinner to JFK
$740.01: Business class airfare to Cincinnati
$398.78: Westin Hotel, Cincinnati