Alabama in the Pros

Tua Tagovailoa shows off his financial savvy and how he spends and saves his money

Tua Tagovailoa in warmups before Miami Dolphins played Buffalo Bills
Jasen Vinlove - USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa is a very talented quarterback.

Fans of Alabama football and media pundits saw him for three years under Nick Saban.

He broke school records, won numerous individual accolades, was a Heisman finalist, and even rescued the team to a College Football Playoff National Championship versus Georgia as a true freshman. Tagovailoa had help at every level to become the football player he is and as a professional, the former five-star looks to help the Miami Dolphins become a better franchise.

He is an intriguing athlete, but what is even more interesting about Tagovailoa is his financial process to save and spend money wisely — despite all the pressures within society.

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During an interview with GQ Sports, which was published on Sept. 25, the fifth overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft dove into how he spent and saved his first $1 million. Upon getting drafted, Tagovailoa signed a four-year deal worth $30.2 million.

He also received a $19.6 million signing bonus.

In coming from a humble background, Tagovailoa thought about his family with each purchase he made. Being an NFL quarterback is his first-ever real job, and it took the help of his parents to locate the right agent and financial advisors.

For someone who has a big, endearing personality, Tagovailoa is not flashy at all.

Many modern-day pro athletes would blow through their wealth in getting a lot of cars, homes and pieces of jewelry. Tagovailoa, on the other hand, has not touched his contract money.

He, his parents and his financial team have placed the funds from his contract into a savings account.

Whether he took a money management course at the University of Alabama or took strongly to the wisdom of those around him, Tagovailoa is only spending his endorsement money. With him being the first native Hawaiian to make it to the NFL as a skill position player, he takes pride in making his people proud. The dream he has pursued since childhood is now a reality and though he wants to enjoy the fruits of his labor, the 22-year-old is more concerned about making his money work for him.

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In saying this, Tagovailoa broke down how he spent his first $1 million.

His first purchase, which he shared via Instagram, was a 2020 Cadillac Escalade for his mother.

“She always wanted a nice, big family car,” Tagovailoa said.

The Escalade was $80,000. He would then go on to purchase two more cars, a Ford Flex and a BMW, for himself. The reason behind the move was Tagovailoa would have a vehicle for his parents or a family member to drive when they come to visit.

Both cars totaled $120,000. Fortunately, his clothes come from endorsement deals.

“I don’t go out shopping anyways,” Tagovailoa said. “I upgraded my clothing, but luckily everything is free.”

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He is not much of a jewelry person; however, Tagovailoa did purchase an Apple Watch, a Rolex (for his father) and some earrings.

While he was not proud of his investment in the earrings, he wanted to get his dad something nice.

All three items equalled $14,000. The smallest purchase he made was getting snacks for the quarterback room of the Miami Dolphins.

Tagovailoa has not bought dinner for the team yet, but he did take $200 to Cotsco’s for gum, Twizzlers, Mountain Dew, pistachios, trail mix and candy. When it comes to his final two purchases, Tagovailoa bought a home and gym equipment in Davie, Fla. His home, which is 5,200 square feet, has six bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a pool and it sits on a lake. One of the things he was looking for in buying a home was the yard. In an event where another global pandemic happened, Tagovailoa wanted to have a backyard to train on his footwork and throwing mechanics. Upon the end of his work, he would go relax in the pool.

The purchase of the house, which was $1.65 million, was another element of Tagovailoa wanting time with his family.

Gym equipment was the last thing he bought, in conjunction with the house. On days were he is not working out at the Dolphins’ facility, Tagovailoa is getting his strength up inside his $30,000 home gym. People have invested a lot in him, so it is only natural for Tagovailoa to give to others. He has partnered with Fox Sports to help him orchestrate his charitable organization.

Along with airing his documentary, the media outlet also agreed to donate $111,111 to the Boys and Girls Club of America in his hometown (‘Ewa Beach, Hawaii), in Alabama and in Miami, Fla.

Tagovailoa has always been big on community and making sure the people around him are in a positive mindset. Overall, he is happy about the decisions he made with his purchases.

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“It wasn’t more so me when I thought of the purchases,” Tagovailoa said. “I thought of everyone that would be involved in the purchases as well, except for maybe one of them. Other than that, I got everything knowing that if I have family members coming over to the house… they all would have a place to sleep. They would have a place to stay, be comfortable and they would have a car to drive.”

At the end of the day, Tagovailoa wants to see his parents happy.

“I think that is the most important thing to me,” he said. “Just seeing them enjoy the fruits of their labor from what they have instilled in me and my siblings, it is a joy to be able to see them relax and let us work to help them out.”

Even as a rookie, Tagovailoa knows the value of a dollar. He is going to have fun as a young player, but the knowledge he has to store funds away for life ahead is refreshing. During a time where the best of athletes are filing for bankruptcy, Tagovailoa has an awareness about himself that will keep him wealthy for a long time.

He is a great player, but people should be more proud of the man he has become.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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