WWE star John Cena slept in his car and worked as a limo driver before making it big

Before John Cena was an actor and one of the highest-paid and most decorated wrestlers in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), he worked odd jobs and was so cash-strapped that he lived out of his car.

Cena's first job out of high school was working as a limo driver in Boston. "I was not a good limo driver," Cena, 44, told Bloomberg on June 17. "On my first pickup, I was three hours late," because he got lost.

In 1999, Cena moved from West Newbury, Massachusetts to Los Angeles with the hopes of eventually pursuing an acting career.

Cena worked at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach to make ends meet but burned through his cash fast. "I went through my resources quickly and had to think on my feet," he told The U.S. Sun in a recent interview. "I didn't want to go home crying."

At times, Cena experienced homelessness. "I slept in my car for a while, which happened to be a very roomy 1991 Lincoln Town Car," Cena told the U.S. Sun. "I had my clothes in the trunk and I slept in the back seat."

Cena was working from 4 in the morning to midnight, and took advantage of the gym facilities between shifts: "I'd wake up, use the [gym] locker rooms and the shower and repeat the process all over again," he told The U.S. Sun.

Spending time at the gym, which he has referred to as "the mecca of bodybuilding," eventually paid off: While working out, another gymgoer suggested that he try wrestling.

Cena started wrestling professionally with Ultimate Pro Wrestling in California before signing a contract with the WWE's feeder league, Ohio Valley Wrestling.

Cena made his WWE debut in 2000 and holds 16 World Champion titles. In the 2017 calendar year, Cena earned $10 million, making him the highest-paid wrestler in the WWE, according to Forbes. The first thing he bought with his WWE paycheck was a 1989 Jeep Wrangler.

Cena has also made a name for himself in Hollywood: He acts in the upcoming "Fast and Furious 9" movie, which is a movie franchise worth nearly $6 billion. (NBC Universal distributes the films.)

"I love what I do," Cena told "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in September 2019. Cena has said he doesn't vacation, has never taken more than two days off of work and plans to never retire. "I just know that it's going to end at some point, so I kind of want to enjoy it all," he said. "And I've spent a lot of time wanting to continue to work."

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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