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‘I Thought I Had Made It’: Nick Cannon Explains How He Blew $200K Will Smith Gave Him Early In His Career

Multi-hyphenate Hollywood star Nick Cannon is getting candid about his financial history. During a recent interview, the daytime television talk show host reflected on how Academy Award-winning actor Will Smith impacted his career and revealed that he once wasted his first massive check given by the “King Richard” star earlier on in his career.

While talking to radio host Angela Yee about his relationship and past experience with money, this week for her series “Money Pie,” the 41-year-old recalled going broke after Smith gave him a check for $200,000, even after receiving financial advice from the veteran actor.

Nick Cannon (L) and Will Smith (R). Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images, Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images for Sony Pictures

“Will found me at like 17, and by the time I was 18, the check came in, and at the time, I remember Will had a red Range Rover. And I was like ‘I want a black one,’ ” the “Wild ‘N Out” creator recalled. “And he’s the biggest movie star in the world, and this is ’98, end of ’98.”

Cannon admitted that the father of three cautioned him not to buy the luxury vehicle at the time. Still, the young star was too concerned with trying to keep up a particular lifestyle he saw experienced by some of his other famous friends. 

“I was like, ‘Yo, you just gave me $200,000. And it’s like, at the time, I think Range Rovers was like 60 bands back then. So I was like, ‘I’m getting this!’ Brandy had the Lexus Land Cruiser, and, you know, Kenan had the 4-Runner, Kel had the Expedition. I was like, ‘I’m getting the Range Rover,’ the most expensive one just to stunt, and Will was like, ‘Don’t do it.’ ” the actor continued.

Cannon told Yee that “Not even a year [later]- I totaled that car and lost it and was living back at my mom’s house … my mom’s was living in that condo back in San Diego a year later, thinking where I thought I had made it, and was rich, and was gonna be set for life.”

Smith had often told the budding star about the time he went broke after releasing his hit single with DJ Jazzy Jeff, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” in the late 1980s due to reported unpaid taxes. 

“Yeah he was like, ‘I made a million dollars, won a Grammy, and I was broke. You know before this Fresh Prince. Don’t-like, save this money.’ And I was like ‘aight aight, I’m good.’ Like, you just gave me a whole television deal, this the first $200,000. This is gonna keep coming,” he explained, before telling Yee,  “And like you said it breaks down. Instantly, the government gets half of it. And then what you don’t realize is representation.”

He added, “I was new to it. You know and even still to this day, your representation is gonna be probably at least 30 percent.”

The entertainment maverick said that looking back now, there were a few decisions that he wishes he would’ve made, telling host Yee, “I rented my mom’s condo. I wish I would’ve bought it,” he admitted. “I wish instead of buying that, that Range Rover, I would’ve just bought my mom’s condo.”

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