Pro athletes in dire financial straits turn to KCK pawn shop - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Pro athletes in dire financial straits turn to KCK pawn shop

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A KCK pawn shop owner has no doubt that eventually he will be seeing some 2013 MLS Championship rings given to Sporting KC's players and staff.

Don Budd has been buying and selling championship rings from cash-strapped athletes since the 1980s.

While he sells some sports memorabilia, Budd also keeps them so that the athlete can regain their beloved ring once they get on better financial footing. While he pays the athletes for the ring, they pay him a monthly fee to keep the ring in safekeeping.

"When they get that, I understand how important that is to them. I also understand how important it is to get it back to them," Budd said.

Budd's Central Pawn shop in downtown Kansas City, KS looks like every other pawn business out there. He has normal items and then the exceptional ware. Budd doesn't flaunt the victory jewelry and trophies that are often worth tens of thousands of dollars.

"We have a very private clientele on the buying side and on the selling side," Budd explained.

It was somewhat pure happenstance that had players coming to him. In the 1980s, a desperate Raiders player sought him out, wanting to pawn a Super Bowl ring and get some quick cash. That player found satisfaction and word spread.

"They go from college making no money to a signing bonus making big money for their career and then they go back to no money again," Budd explained.

Now he wheels and deals with professional athletes from all over the country. But don't expect him to reveal details of this highly secretive world of elite athletes who are now broke and rich buyers.

"Anonymity is a big part of it. We don't give names out, we don't give dollars out. We don't do that. They're people just like me and you," Budd said.

 Every situation is different. Budd says high profile athletes lose control of their wealth often with only the ring on their finger to keep them afloat.

But it could be some time before Sporting KC players come calling.

Budd says soccer players are the least likely to walk through his door, calling them "grounded" athletes for the most part. He also said they don't see the extraordinary salaries that other sports do, causing them to live outside their means once their playing days are over.

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