How do Olympic athletes make money?

in Sports Talk Social2 months ago

This is something that occurred to me the other day when I was pondering why the USA doesn't always bring their best basketball players to the games every 4 (or 5) years. I started digging into it because it seems like a tremendous amount of time and also money goes into training for a sport where unless you land a bunch of lucrative endorsement deals afterwards from Wheaties or Coke, it doesn't seem like it would make a bunch of sense to go into most Olympic sports unless you really really enjoyed doing it.

Sure you can go to college for free if you are really good at track and field, but unless you are Usain Bolt this normally doesn't transition into a lifetime of wealth and frivolity. So how much do the athletes at the Olympics actually get paid?


As it turns out, the answer to that isn't simple at all and it depends a great deal on what sort of incentives your own country is actually going to offer you for winning a medal. The Olympics themselves don't actually pay any winners anything at all outside of the value of the medal itself - which isn't very impressive if you are just breaking it down in the value of the precious metals themselves. A gold medal melted down would be worth about $800 and I only just found out that it is not actually solid gold but rather, gold plated silver. A silver medal is purse silver and worth around $400 and sadly the bronze medal would be worth less than the postage to mail it to whoever bought it from you.

Obviously these medals have nostalgic value and the Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic Gold Medal sold at auction for $1.5 million USD


Not everyone won a gold in Nazi Germany in front of Hitler though, so you can be guaranteed that some random-ass medal in archery would pull down significantly less. So let's look again into how much do the athletes get paid?

The answer is that it depends on the country you are playing for. Since the Olympics don't pay anything at all the individual countries make up their own pay scale and you might be surprised to find out that the wealthier countries that win a bunch of medals every Olympics pay pretty poorly compared to those that rarely, if ever, win any medals at all.

For example, the United States pays $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver, and a mere $15,000 for bronze. Canada, Australia, and Great Britain pay significantly less. I can't even find any information on how much China pays - maybe you just get social credit points or something.

The best countries to be from if you are going to compete in the Olympics might surprise you as the top 2 are Singapore ($787,000 for a gold) and Kazakhstan ($250,000 for a gold.) Don't look for Singapore to be going broke due to medal payout anytime soon though because the small island nation has only ever won 5 medals in the history of the Olympics and only one of them was a gold for 100 meter butterfly in 2016.


So finding out this information kind of opened my eyes as to why the USA's men's basketball team doesn't seem to field the best players that the sport actually has to offer. While us normal people would love the opportunity to win nearly $38,000 for playing a few games that are almost certainly going to be easier than the normal games we would play in our leagues, the top talent in the NBA make that much money per week just to sit at home and watch Netflix.

National pride isn't exactly at its highest point in the USA at the moment so I guess it isn't all that surprising that the basketball multi-millionaires decided to sit this one out.


That's a big reality check about the pay for Olympic medal winning athletes.

But, I think it's the pride of the country more than the pay for winning the medal is what makes athletes to take part in Olympics.

I still remember reading about the omission of professional athletes into many Olympics events in earlier events.

It's always an expected gesture by countries which are the most unsuccessful ones in Olympics to declare some BIG reward for winning medals to encourage the athletes to win atleast a medal and here in India, Government declared approximately US$400000 for gold medal winner, US$269000 for Silver medal winner and US$134600 for Bronze winner.

Inspite of these huge cash prizes, we are still lacking the World beater athletes although we keep getting couple of Silvers and few Bronzes in every Olympics.

That's a pretty great payout that India is giving. The US is being quite stingy in comparison!

Yeah,as we see, there will be less number of medal prospects for India. So, the Government can afford this much amount.

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This is so interesting. All my thought was that the country pays and the olympics sport pays the players too. Good to know of this from. Interesting post.

Shit how nice it would be to be a representative of Singapore right now and win a gold xd. Well, in my country Venezuela I think that for winning any medal the president gives you a house and a car, I've only seen one who got that in the olympic games before this one.

well the deck is stacked against Singapore in most sports. The people are quite small, it's hot as the blue blazes year round, and there isn't much space outdoors. It's probably pretty tough to get good at throwing a javelin when all the houses are a meter apart and the few parks they have a packed with people.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, you just destroyed my desire to go to Singapore:(

I just wrote a post about Thailand winning their first gold ever. I wonder how much that girl is going to get? Probably a lot!

Thats quite interesting integers to the NBA players. Why play for gold when you get it each week.

Yeah, but it wasn't always this way. In the past like the Dream Team in 199x they went for pride and glory. Other than Scottie Pippen, none of those guys probably even cared about the money. It just kind of goes to show the mindset of your average NBA superstar these days.