If there was one player fans wouldn't begrudge earning a fortune it is Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston.
The 38-year-old's rags to riches tale is one of the most celebrated stories in the NRL, but a new revelation shows just how insanely successful he has been in his life away from the football field.
A four-time Dally M Player of the year, NRL premiership winner and a certainty for future immortal selection, Thurston has just as much skill off the field as his near-peerless on-field record.
As first revealed by The Sunday Telegraph, the former North Queensland halfback owes it all to a AU$400 ($413 NZD) habit that has transformed his portfolio of riches to an insane level.
The report details Thurston was put on a weekly budget of AU$400 spending money by his player agent Sam Ayoub when he signed his first big-money deal which saw him leave the Bulldogs for the Cowboys in 2005.
The discipline of sticking to a measly budget, considering his future contracts worth up to $1.24 million per-year, has catapulted his story into a financial fairytale.
Flirting with the grey area between frugal and tight-arse, Thurston reveals in the report he has even cut his spending allowance back further to just $300 per-week ($310 NZD).
The rest of his earnings go straight into his collection of investments.
The report details Thurston has a multimillion-dollar share portfolio, a 50 per cent stake in emerging Queensland transport company Skytrans, eight pieces of real estate and a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, worth up $517,000 as a limited-release supercar.
It is some way from the 17-year-old who travelled to Sydney without a dollar to his name after the Bulldogs took a chance on a scrawny kid every other club had dismissed as being too small to compete at an elite level.
His journey began as a butcher's assistant at Coles and his parents organising raffles at a local pub to raise the money to send him to $723 rugby league development camps.
The next step was the move to Sydney on a contract worth $0 and a job washing cars five days a week in the same year he made his NRL debut.
The teenager working in a car yard for AU$12 per hour is now one of the richest players in the history of the sport.
The work ethic and discipline is still at the core of his financial strategy and his spending remains measly considering the obscene wealth at his disposal.
He still lives in a moderate four-bedroom home in Townsville with wife Samantha and their four kids, Frankie, Charlie, Lillie and Remie.
The study of the family home has been converted into a trophy room.
The property doesn't even have a garage to house his Mustang toy.
The vehicle is his only extravagant expense.
"It cost me a trip to the Super Bowl with Cameron Smith," Thurston told The Sunday Telegraph's James Phelps.
"That was going to be my retirement present but Sam canned it when she found out about the car."
Even now, he is a thrifty spender that hopes to have set an example for current rugby league players tempted by the rock star lifestyle of big-money contracts and testosterone-charged dressingrooms.
He reportedly almost exclusively wears swag gifted to him by sponsors and is working tirelessly across his range of undertakings, which includes weekly gigs as a Channel 9 commentator for its NRL coverage, a community ambassador for the Cowboys and sitting on the board of directors for his Skytrans aviation business which has expanded operations to include 80 staff and 11 aircraft with ambitious plans for the Queensland operation to go national.
Despite retiring in 2018, he also remains an ambassador for several Australian companies.
He barely sees a cent of those sponsorship dollars before it goes straight into the investment kitty.
The iconic moment of his 2015 grand final-winning field goal is already part of rugby league folklore and — when combined with his heroism during Queensland's unprecedented eight consecutive State of Origin series wins — makes him one of the most popular and marketable figures in the state.
Such is his influence that he earned an Honorary Doctor of Letters from James Cook University in 2015 for "outstanding service and exceptional contributions to the northern Queensland community".
He is also reported to have been a significant factor in former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's $103 million commitment towards the new stadium in Townsville — Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
His mum and dad's pub raffles were the best investment of all.