In some seriously depressing news, the Denver Post reports that Olympic wrestling icon, Rulon Gardner has been forced to declare bankruptcy and is auctioning off his Olympic memorabilia, including his medals, autographed jerseys, robes, commemorative jewelry and more. The 43 year-old owes a $3.9 million tax debt, and says that the bankruptcy has been difficult, but has made him wiser.
Gardner and his wife now live in Wyoming, where he plies a new trade, medical devices sales rep. His run of bad luck didn't just start, though. He's had a few mishaps that would lead most to wonder if they had angered the deities.
- 2002: Nearly died stranded in the Wyoming wild, losing a toe to frostbite.
- 2007: Involved in a plane crash where he and two others crashed into Lake Powell, having to swim for an hour in 44 degree weather to reach the shore, then spending the night without a fire or shelter before rescue teams arrived.
- 2011: Participated in the TV reality show, ‘The Biggest Loser', lost almost 200 lbs, but failed in his attempt to qualify for the London Olympics.
Two of Gardner's medals, his 2000 gold, and his 2004 bronze were auctioned off last year to pay off a creditor. He hopes that one day he'll be able to buy them back. His custom Harley Davidson with Olympic logo, signed by the grandson of Harley Davidson, was also sold last year in the same auction as the aforementioned medals.
I can remember like it was yesterday, sitting around the nurses station of the cancer care ward I had been working on, sneaking out to the visitor's lobby to watch for Olympic updates on the TV there. The roar from that little lobby when Gardner won was almost deafening and kind of linked everyone together in their mutual support for our country's top Olympian. All of America was pulling for Rulon that day. I know I was. I'm still pulling for him. Hopefully he gets his finances straight and can continue on with a happy, healthy life.