As the Rio Olympics draw to a close, it’s nice to think of the medalists returning home to praise and honour. But that is often not the case.
Although he came in last in his competition, accident-prone skier Eddie the Eagle returned to England after the 1988 winter games in a blaze of glory. They even made a Hollywood movie about him.
He was the only Briton to qualify for the ski jump. But now he’s hit the skids – living off-grid in a shed in his family’s back garden, eating sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, following a ‘wipeout’ divorce with ex-wife, Samantha Morton.
He revealed in an interview that the split had cost him about 85% of his wealth, and the £180,000 that he had earned from the recent movie about him, he had to give to his ex-wife whom he had met whilst working as a radio presenter part-time alongside his law degree. She was his co-host and they were married for 13 years, raising two daughters, Otillie, 11 and Honey May, 8.
Trying to rack together all the money he can get, he explains his current plan: “I had to sell my flat in Bedford, which I got about 30 years ago, to pay my anticipated tax bill. I got £175,000 for it. I’ll also have to pay capital gains tax from the property sale. At least 90% of the money in my account is earmarked for tax.
“I’m trying to save up from all my work now. I moved into the shed in my garden about a year ago while developing my new house; I’ve lived off sandwiches ever since because I don’t have a kitchen. Egg sandwiches are my favourite.”
Okay, so his off-grid lifestyle is only temporary whilst he gets back on his feet and his new home is built. But still, he’s been living unplugged for about a year now and doesn’t seem to be complaining! When asked how it feels to have lost essentially everything, he preaches that “It’s just one of those things. If you think about it too much, you get depressed, so I think: I made it once, I made it twice, I can make it three times. You have to be philosophical.”
Shocking as it may be, Eddie (born Michael Edwards) lived out his Olympic days in a similar fashion. Being poor, he slept in his car in between events and lived off scraps whilst training, all to compete for Great Britain. So living in a shed couldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. I mean, despite becoming a global celebrity from his skiing, in 1992, he was declared bankrupt. Claiming the trust fund into which he had put his earnings had not been properly managed. Years later, he bounced back and earned a law degree from De Montfort University in Leicester and started again.
Currently, Eddie has a mortgage, on the new home, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, and in between sponsorship and speaking engagements he works as a plasterer — his original trade. The film about him has now been released and you can view the trailer here if you like.
By Chelsea Mendez
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