Fact Check

No, Former NFL QB John Elway Is Not 'Broke'

The misinformation stemmed from an online advertisement that was being paid for by unknown persons.

Published Jan. 5, 2022

ENGLEWOOD, CO - MARCH 20:  Executive vice president of football operations John Elway speaks during a news conference announcing quarterback Peyton Manning's contract with the Denver Broncos in the team meeting room at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on March 20, 2012 in Englewood, Colorado. Manning, entering his 15th NFL season, was released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, 2012, where he had played his whole career. It has been reported that Manning will sign a five-year, $96 million offer.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Image Via Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
John Elway is financially broke.

In January 2022, an online advertisement showed a picture of former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway next to the words, "Iconic NFL Players Who Went Broke."

An ad claimed that former NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos John Elway was broke. The ad was misleading clickbait.

The ad led to a slideshow article on MoneyWise.com that again featured the same photograph of Elway. The headline read, "These Iconic NFL Players Lost It All."

It wasn't until the last page of the long story that Elway was featured. However, it said nothing of him running out of money and going "broke."

Instead, it referenced that, in 2010, Elway fell victim to a Ponzi scheme by a hedge fund manager named Sean Michael Mueller. The Associated Press reported that "he and a business partner gave Mueller $15 million," and that Mueller was later sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The last page of the MoneyWise.com article also mentioned an ABC News article from 2016 that reported Elway missed out on a potentially huge investment opportunity in 1998. Had he signed a deal with the Broncos to buy an ownership stake in the team, his investment might have been worth around $388 million by the year 2015, potentially a "646 percent return on the 1998 investment, adjusted for inflation."

As of early 2022, the former NFL great was employed as the president of football operations for the Broncos and had previously held the title of the team's general manager.

There was no evidence that Elway was broke, nor did the lengthy MoneyWise.com article mention any such thing.

Snopes debunks a wide range of content, and online advertisements are no exception. Misleading ads often lead to obscure websites that host lengthy slideshow articles with lots of pages. It's called advertising "arbitrage." The advertiser's goal is to make more money on ads displayed on the slideshow's pages than it cost to show the initial ad that lured them to it. Feel free to submit ads to us, and be sure to include a screenshot of the ad and the link to where the ad leads.


DiLalla, Aric. John Elway Announces Changes to Broncos Football Operations. Denver Broncos, 4 Jan. 2021, https://www.denverbroncos.com/news/john-elway-announces-changes-to-broncos-football-operations.
Griffin, Greg. “John Elway among Investors in Ponzi-Scheme Case against Sean Mueller.” The Denver Post, 12 Oct. 2010, https://www.denverpost.com/2010/10/12/john-elway-among-investors-in-ponzi-scheme-case-against-sean-mueller/.
“Man Who Scammed Elway Gets 40 Years in Jail.” Associated Press and ESPN.Com, 6 Dec. 2010, https://www.espn.com/nfl/news/story?id=5892445.
Rovell, Darren. “How John Elway Missed out on a Fortune.” ABC News, 3 Feb. 2016, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/john-elway-missed-fortune/story?id=36701341.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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