Adrian Peterson auction controversy, explained: Former NFL star denies he’s broke, selling trophies

Former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has only been out of the NFL for two years, but is he already running into financial trouble? Not so fast, he says.

Eyebrows were raised when a slew of Peterson’s belongings, including trophies and signed memorabilia, went up for online auction, but Peterson posted a video on social media Wednesday hitting back at the idea he’s selling some of his most prized possessions.

Peterson racked up more than a few accolades during his 15-year NFL career, earning MVP honors in 2012 along with the Offensive Player of the Year award. He was a four-time All-Pro, rushing for more than 2,000 yards in his MVP season, and Peterson sits fifth all-time with 14,918 career rushing yards.

Here’s what you need to know about Peterson’s supposed estate sale and why he’s vowing legal action. 

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Adrian Peterson estate sale controversy, explained

Peterson posted a video on Wednesday explaining that he is not selling his trophies or memorabilia and strongly denying that he is dealing with any financial problems.

There is just one problem: as of Wednesday night, those items are for sale on a third-party site HiBid. So, what’s actually happening? The sale is occurring without Peterson’s authorization, according to his statement.

Peterson says he gave “clear instructions to leave personal items untouched,” adding that he “will be taking legal action” against a company he trusted to sell some of his belongings. While Peterson did hire an unnamed company to run an auction of some kind, he calls the decision to list his trophies and other memorabilia “unlawful.” 

Is Adrian Peterson broke?

“I want to emphasize that I am financially stable and would never sell all of my hard-earned trophies,” Peterson said, explaining that he wouldn’t sell those items to strangers even if he ended up in that scenario. 

Items listed for sale include Peterson’s MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, and Offensive Rookie of the Year trophies, as well as signed Vikings jerseys and game balls. The listed memorabilia even includes a Twins jersey signed by Joe Mauer and a “Sunday Night Football” hat signed by John Madden.

It’s unclear whether all memorabilia was put up for auction without Peterson’s authorization, but the sale also includes plenty of plain clothes among the 11 pages of items.

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Adrian Peterson career earnings

Peterson made $103.2 million during his NFL career, according to Spotrac.

While running backs have received the short end of the market over the past few years, Peterson was in such a high echelon during much of his career that he did quite well for himself.

Peterson signed a six-year, $86.3M million extension with the Vikings in 2011, and he would make $94.7 million of his career earnings during his time in Minnesota. 

Even in 2024, Peterson remains the highest-earning running back in NFL history by a wide margin. 49ers star Christian McCaffrey is second all-time with $77.6 million in career earnings, a figure that is set to jump in the next few years and likely even pass Peterson when all is said and done, but to this point, no other running back has even approached the $100 million mark. 

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