Olympic Dreams? Here's How Much Money You Could Make
Being an olympian sounds cool on paper, but the economics behind it might not make you that much green paper.
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Those are the odds of becoming an olympic athlete. Absolutely incredible.
While I haven’t watched the winter olympics yet, I still find the athletes competing in it incredible.
But how do their athletic abilities convert to financial success?
It’s not as great as you think.
But first, here are some that have crushed it…
The 5 Richest Olympian Athletes Ever
The first two names on this list are somewhat misleading as they made most of their money from a celebrity standpoint and thanks to their last names.
1. Caitlyn Jenner
Net Worth: $100 Million
Jenner won the 1976 Olympics decathlon event and is considered to be one of the world’s greatest athletes of all-time.
Bruce didn’t make most of the money, but Caitlyn did.
2. Ivana Trump
Net Worth: $60 Million
Trump was selected as an alternate on the Czechoslovakian ski team during the 1972 Winter Olympics.
She married and then divorced from Donald Trump, which is where most of her money comes from.
3. Usain Bolt
Net Worth: $60 Million
Finally an athlete who made the majority of their money during their time as an olympian.
Bolt is widely considered to be the fastest sprinter of all time.
He has a lifetime deal with Puma.
4. Michael Phelps
Net Worth: $55 Million
Michael Phelps is the most successful olympian in history.
Phelps holds numerous records in swimming and plenty of gold medals.
He has an array of sponsors including Under Armour, Subway, and Kellogg’s.
5. Lance Armstrong
Net Worth: $50 Million
Apparently cheating is very profitable.
Armstrong was once considered the best cyclist in the world before being stripped of all his titles for taking performance enhancing drugs.
He once lost 8 sponsors in a day.
How Much Do You Get From The Olympics?
You might find it interesting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not pay prize money to medalists - but many countries offer monetary rewards.
A lot of it comes down to how much your country prizes winning.
For example, Singapore rewards its gold medalists nearly 20 times more than the United States.
But keep in mind all of this is relative. Why?
In the 2018 Winter Olympics:
Singapore = No medals
US = 9 Gold, 8 Silver, 6 Bronze medals
So the US paid out $607,500 compared to the Singapore’s $0.
The prize money is not taxable for US athletes, where as in Singapore it is.
So How Do Olympians Make Money?
Mostly from endorsements, but a little bit from prize money at other international events.
For example, after Shaun White won his first Olympic gold medal in 2006, snowboard-manufacturing company Burton signed him on to a 10-year contract worth around $10M/year.
However, most Team USA athletes are not represented by sports agents and some have no sponsors or endorsements at all.
Sometimes you have to be in the 1% of the 0.0013% to land big deals.
Being an olympian is cool, but financially it makes a lot more sense to shoot for a major sports league such as basketball, football, soccer, baseball, or hockey.
As always thanks for reading!
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Great breakdown Andrew!