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How Much Do Olympic Athletes Earn?

With the Winter Games in Sochi upon us, perhaps you wonder: How much do Olympic Athletes earn? Are they paid for Gold? The answer may surprise you!

How much do Olympic athletes earn? Unless you win gold, probably not enough.Six years ago, watching the 2008 Olympics, I began to wonder: How much do Olympic athletes earn? What, if anything, are they paid for competing in the games? After all, training for the Olympics (never mind competing) is at least a full-time job.

As eyes are on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the answer still surprises me.

Most Olympians earn nothing for Olympic competition. Many countries’ Olympic teams, including the United States’, provide travel expenses to Olympic competitors, but even these funds don’t come directly from the government, rather a pool of private and corporate donors.

The only direct income a few Olympians receive for their competition is from corporate sponsorships. For an A-list Olympian like Michael Phelps, that means plenty of dough to support himself while he trains and competes from companies like Speedo. And, in addition to regular sponsorships, the swimwear outfit paid Phelps $1 million for breaking the 1972 record for seven gold medals in a single Olympics. He used the money to start a charity.

All U.S. athletes can also earn a “medal bonus” from the U.S. Olympic committee for each medal won. The Committee pays American medal winners $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze medals. Some countries, though not all, pay athletes similar medal bonuses. Italy and Russia lead the pack. In 2012 Russia will pay $135,000 for a gold medal, $81,600 for silver and $54,400 for a bronze medal. Italy will pay gold medalists $182,400; the country also paid salaries of $64,000 to its 14 gold medal winners from the 2008 games through this summer’s Olympics.

While these bonuses are a nice way to reward athletes financially for a big, big accomplishment, many will never enjoy the steady income that comes with a corporate sponsorship, making what they endure to compete all the more impressive.

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. The Philippines is paying $220,000 for a gold…of course, no one from their country has ever won a gold, but still ;-)

    • Hey dude, you are wrong! Philippines will pay $1M for Gold Medalist

    • Actually the Phillipine Island has the most medal for a tropical island. This does not include Gold but it’s impressive in itself. If the Ms Universe were part of the Olympic, that would get the most medal including gold. :)

  2. This is very interesting. I didn’t realize that the US paid out any bonuses. It was also nice to learn the Phelps gets $1MM for breaking the record.. no wonder he swims so many races.

    • Yeah, but they have to pay taxes on what they earn for their medals in the united states. So it says 25k for gold but after taxes they really only get 16k.

      • True, but they will get most of that 9k back at the end of the year unless they earn $388,000 for the year. The actual tax on the “medal bonus” for an athlete who only earned one gold medal and no other income would be less than 2k.

      • I paid taxes on my $10k bonus to join the National Guard so I could go overseas and fight in Iraq. I see nothing wrong with them paying taxings on their $25k bonus which is a gateway for earning millions.

  3. thanks! I was looking for some info. on the subject. Yours was the most well-written article I found. its a shame these athletes don’t get paid more. they work their tales off, granted- mostly for the sense of accomplishment and glory, but I think a country like the U.S. can shell a little more money out to reward them for their efforts. if any given host city/country can spend so many billions of dollars on the olympic games, they should share the wealth with those who actually make it interesting to watch.

    • so why should these athletes get paid anymore than what they do get paid?i understand they are good at what they do,but for that matter so am i.so why should they get paid?all professional athletes are overpaid…WAY overpaid.because of what athletes amke the average person can not even afford to go to a professional sporting event.i think they get paid plenty for winning medals and plenty from sponsorship.

      • Kelly Hobbins says:

        Um….most of their families are in debt up to their eyeballs because they paid for full time private training and private tutors. It’s a shame that after all of that, they stand to possibly make nothing in return. I suppose they do it because they love it. As a parent, though, I have to say, I’d much rather take a gamble on the sports that pay: football & baseball players at least stand a chance to get college paid for, AND those programs are nurtured in public schools, so not a lot of extra expense on the family’s part.

        • syc4m0re says:

          How is that our fault? We didn’t force them into the olympics.

          • Doctors and pharmacists are up to their eyeballs in student loans…..but no one pays them more… Some make $80k a year. They will work forever before they will be debt free ;) I think families that send their children to private lessons and trainers already have the money to begin with…

      • I do not understand why people like yourself complain about how much athletes make. Plain and simple athletes are entertainers, you do not complain about actors, musicians and so forth, so why are you calling out athletes for making too much money. Athletes act as role models for kids and so forth. The toll they put on their bodies to get where they are is unreal and deserves to be rewarded. Imagine how much more out of shape the world would be if people were not into athletics. Everyone who participates in sports hopes of one day getting paid to do it. Just because many people don’t have the mental strength to train like these world class athletes, doesn’t mean anyone deserves to attack sports as a whole. people like you are mostly bitter because you were never good enough or didnt have the work ethic necessary to do so

      • @chris Olympic athletes are not good at what they do.. they are the BEST at what they do. If you are the BEST, you deserve to be rewarded handsomely. Are you the best at what you do? I think not. Come back when you are LMAO

  4. Is it true that the US gold medalist get paid 25,000 every year?

    • no they get paid 25 000 for winning a gold medal 15000 for silver and 10 000 for bronze just one time only

      • The U.S. Olympic Committee used to recommend that the money for each of the medalists go to a charity of the participants choice.

        • they have to pay taxes on their medal winnings. So even though it says 25k they really only get 16k.

          • They will only get taxed the full 9k if they earn more than $388,000 the year they receive the medal. Otherwise they will end up getting most of that money back at the end of the year.

          • obviously anon doesn’t pay taxes. The tax liability on 25k salary isn’t 9k. Due to the training and expenses they endure, they probably wont pay any taxes due to write-offs. The tax bracket that would force them to pay 9k in taxes on 25k would be 35% and they would have to be awarded more than 388k for the year.

  5. Russia actually pays those amounts in Euros (not US dollars), so it’s actually a lot more money.

    • But Russias currency isn’t Euros, it’s rubble. So I don’t think they pay their Athletes in Euros.
      1 Russian ruble = 0.033409 U.S. dollars

  6. Lets not forget the money they will get after the olympics if they win gold, such as commericals, cereal boxes, shoes, clothes sponsors and more etc etc. If our country is paying for them to get there and paying for there food etc, then if they make millions afterwards from sponsorships, they should pay it back!!!

    • Please tell me where you have seen a pair of Bryan Clay shoes! And sorry, I didn’t realize food and travel cost millions of dollars!

      • Chuck is a fuking moron, that’s like saying Lebron or either Manning or any pro-athlete who also has their travel, food, hotel, training, etc for their competitions so to speak paid for, on top of getting massive salaries should just do commercials and endorsements for free. It’s not like any of the major companies they endorse are close to bankruptcy….

  7. @Sergei Those amounts Russia now pays are converted from Euros, so that’s the rough amount they get in Dollars.

  8. I do not agree with this. I do not think that they should pay it back, because they are representing the country. Because of their efforts the country is getting great recognition. When that person wins they say the person name then turn around and say the United States has won x amount of metals.

    You have to realize that these people are away from every one and everything that they love and is not making any money, so don’t take the little from them that the United States is giving them for representing this country. (and that’s not only for the money for the medals, but also the hotels, flight, food etc…). It’s all in one package.

  9. Singapore is paying their athletes $1,000,000 for a gold medal. That was mentioned during Olympic table tennis on UHD or NBC coverage.

  10. Its nice to know that you have provided us with this information, but where did you get your information from so I can look it up my self.

  11. Ehy guys, who wrote the article should consider that some countries paid also higher gold medals bonuses:
    – Arabic Emirates paid $270K
    – Cina paid EUR 180K (more than $260K)
    – Italy paid EUR 140K (more than $200K

  12. By the way, Dee
    take a look here

    http://100kjob.info/tag/gold-medal/

  13. I think getting money would get them pumped up to win but that would put them under alot of pressure so then they might loose.

  14. this is israel reyes i im in high school and i broken all records and i might be like him my mile time is 3:11 and i want to be faster and i want to brake my oun record so ill be there and ya going to see who i m.

    • i hope you can run very fast for the rest of your life. since you can not spell to save your life!

      that being said…

      i think any athlete that represents the united states or any other country should be paid more than what they get paid. these athletes represent their countries and when their countries do not show them the respect they deserve it disgusts me. the united states does not pay their athletes spit but everybody in the country is quick to quote the medal count.

      and to anybody talking smack about pro athletes making so much money, its because the length of their career, the revenue they bring in to each team and city and risk for injury which could end the athletes career and possibly end their life. yes, the later is far fetched but it has happened before. the physical punishment is more than most could take. no matter how big of an arm chair quarterback you are! its always the lazy ones that can not play a sport or the talentless that talk the most smack against pro athletes.

      now…. back to your doritos tacos or whatever disgusting excuse for food you are eating :)

      • John – hopefully you are not asked to spell “latter” to save your life.

        • John- “the physical pinishment is more than most can take.” so you don’t believe that Olympic athletes such as swimmers or gymnasts experience this? You want to take about revenue ok I see your point but if you want to talk about length of career and possibly injures that could not only be career ending but career ending, trust me you are a little off here if you don’t add Olympians in the mix here.

      • I’m eating sushi smartass

      • Hey dude come down. No need togo hard on anybody p’ple can say what they feel they wanna say. I don’t think spelling matters here i know u gotta the msg. So come down

    • Israel stay in school buddy. You are a dumbass and you make latinos look stupid. Since you win every race, pick up a book while you wait on your sorry ass competition to catch up.

  15. China, not only gives them a large cahs prize (1 million RMB), but also buy them a nice house and covers most living expenses for the rest of their life.

    • China also takes kids away from their families at age 4 to train them for the Olympics. Like some Spartan idiot

    • China also takes kids away from their families at age 4 to train them… Like some spartan idiots.

    • Giulio Pescia says:

      JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”.

  16. Morocco pays $100,000 for gold, and we get around 5 medals average every olympic, besides the last one, we sucked bad

  17. Don’t feel too bad for the athletes. They make $50-100/per hr per student when they become instructors. My cousin was an alternate olympic athlete and does pretty darn well financially. Huge house, 2 nice cars, and plenty of girlfriends.

  18. The US government doesn’t give them the money, the US Olympic Committee gives them the money.

  19. I was going to say, I would think China would lead the pack on giving cash for medals. It’s a huge honor there.

  20. I thought china made all there athletes go for free just to entertained the ppl of their nation isn’t that what communism is lol

  21. Why is most of these comments against a talented,dedicated and hard working person making any money? Are you in favor of the millions of Americans who do nothing and wait for their monthly checks? Understand that those that make money, pay taxes that in turn is given to those who contribute nothing.

    • Wow, Really ? Those monthly checks are taxed my friend. Also, they are receiving those checks for a reason, and don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  22. david
    thanks for covering something current that fits your blog theme perfectly and most people don’t know. this was really interesting. I too assumed that most athletes received some kind of stipend throughout their training, really impressed to know they do it with only a hope of winning for any compensation. It is truly amazing.

  23. We also haven’t factored in how much US Olympians will end up receiving in royalties (corporate sponsors, magazines, appearances, etc.) I’m sure they will be making more than 25k.

  24. I love how some people on here think that these athletes are under paid, and that they deserve it because they are away from their families. Last year I was deployed to Iraq for a year I came back home with $30,000. The median household income for the United States is 46,000 a year. I served in a hostile environment where my life could be taken any day. How about lets raise the pay for all of the soldiers that are deployed, and protect the freedom of these athletes so they can compete. Don’t get me wrong I have a great deal of respect for these athletes, and take great pride in how well we do in the Olympics. On the other hand though our military trains just as hard to go fight a foreign enemy, and spend a year without out our family and friends. Just a reminder to not forget the reason why these athletes get the opportunity to train and compete in the events that they do. Thanks for your time and hope this opens your eyes.

    • I have a solution.

      Get a crew to film reality show in Iraq, and people in USA will go crazy watching
      you guys kill each other. Ratings will go up through the roof! Then, companies like coke-cola, Marlboro , corona, and etc will ask for soldiers to use their products in film, and in action.

      I guarantee you, then, you will make $200,000 for every episode; maybe 1 week of filming for one episode. Not bad, you will come back filthy rich..

      Sorry,
      that was just my exaggeration of how America works.

      I respect you my best friend was infantry in Iraq…he is alive, fortunately.

      • Chicken!!. What do you mean sorry? That was a great idea… Nobody told him to join. ” you knew how much you were going to make when you joined ” So back to the point, your not an olympian so dont try to steal the show.

        • Who is trying to steal the show?

          I paid taxes on my $10k bonus to join the National Guard so I could go overseas and fight in Iraq. I see nothing wrong with Olympians paying taxings on their $25k bonus which is a gateway for earning millions. It’s a form of income regardless how they earned it. If I have to pay tax on it, they should too. Plus, like others who have posted, they’ll get most of it back. So why are people worrying about millions have to pay taxes?

          • Because the average Olympian doesn’t make shit. Everyone seems to think if you go to the oympics you’ll make millions off sponsors and you’ll be set for life. We’re forgetting that instead of earning a living or studying they’re training and competing.

            Of course if you compete during high school, colleges will be knocking on your door to play for them, and you go to school for free.

            Regardless if you’re an athlete you better make it fast, because once your knees blow out and you’re as dumb as a rock, you’ll be screwed.

      • Haaaahaaaa datz right, one says that they r fighting for their country but in actual sense they are fighting wars that really don’t need to be fought. So olympians deserve more than anyone fighting meaningless wars, trust me they do

  25. Here in South Africa our gold medal athletes get paid 1million Rand. Roughly 100 000 dollars. We support it and are proud when our competitors win. We don’t undercut each other due to jealousy. A gold for one is a gold for all. I guess we just patriotic that way. Maybe you guys should concider promoting your competitors like Phelps and be proud of the fact that he’s from your country rather than worry about him returning well earned cash. Its basic economics, rare commodities cost the most and the talent displayed by Olympians are indeed rare. Or perhaps economics are not taught where you are from.

    • You’re one to talk… Many people here are in support of athletes getting paid during training/competition. Don’t say we don’t know economics when many people in south africa live in slums and ghettos…

  26. I have to say what a joke to some of these comments about ppl trying to say Olympians are overpaid. You dont get the big picture that only the sports that sponsors like Nike believe they can profit from are the sports that some (not every single person) who win a medal will be able to make a decent living. Do you believe if a US Handball team wins gold that they would get a sponsor like Under Armor or Adidas? There are over 30 sports in the Olympics and more than half are for the most part obscure sports that honestly people dont care about. From shooting, kayaking, archery, badminton, table tennis, etc these are not sport professions that if you win a medal that your life will completely turn around and you will be rolling in money. These are people who deserve to get paid more than just $25K per gold medal (if they are even able to win it during their participation at the Olympics) because right after the event is over, they go pack to their normal jobs the majority of them have.

  27. I think that the fact that Olympians don’t get paid is probably a good thing. When money is involved, that is when politics and unfair practices become rampant. The bonus is worth it, since the money is probably coming from private/corporate sponsors and most Olympians don’t compete at more than one or two Olympics. I am also okay with them getting taxed on the prize money (only because the money is paid to them from America, not the Olympics…I think?).

    The type of person that becomes an Olympian is probably the type of disciplined, intelligent, and organized person that is capable of doing more with their life after the sport career ends. These people don’t sacrifice and work hard for the prize money, the prize money pays for the costs of the sport. They do it because of a desire to be the best in their sport, to fulfill a goal, or to improve their position in life. If they are lucky for sponsors, good for them, I won’t knock on someone else’s success. Most people who go to the Olympics don’t win a medal or prize money.

    I thought this article was informative and interesting.

    The next question would be, How much do the Olympic Committee Members make per year, and how much money does the Olympics make/spend?

  28. Wow, I have never seen so many people that think someone can eat, pay rent, pay trainers, etc…off of “pride” or “recognition”. C’mon ppl!!! They should have a chance at making money! I did not invest in my career so ppl would compliment me, I want to better myself. These atheletes spend their whole lives training for at least one shot. If we could all have that type of commitment, what a better world…

    • Think of the Olympians who did not win or those atlethes did not make the Olympic themes. Many use their own money or family supports them financially, some even mortgage their house. My respect.
      As far as comparison to soldiers salaries, yes they dont get paid much and it is poverty for their families, but then they should not be in other countries and risk their lifes. Other countries are not our borders. It is political.

    • Yah u are right the shouldn’t fight wars that are costing us tax money, we sick of it. Now when it comes to the olympians they do deserve more money, this is real represention of ones country they work hard.

  29. I saw on the news today that while they make $25,000 for a gold medal, they have to pay over $8,000 in income tax on that.

  30. Pretty nice post.. I was grateful to you for the following fantastic articles and and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  31. Kazakhstan pays $ 250 000 for a gold

  32. You might not believe me but when I was in high school I was fast enough to qualify for the Olympics. I ran the 100m dash and I was hardly scratching my potential at 10.2s. Due to the fact that Olympians don’t make scratch for cash it really held me back from ever following that dream. Did I forget to say I am white, watch out Mr Bolt. Other then that let me talk some simple common seance into some of you fools that check this blog. Many Olympians spend 20 years for one shot at an Olympic medal and they still have to win it, the least our stingy stinking ass country could do is give them some kind of reward that would help them out but they don’t. Every other country in the world is proud of their Olympians yet America isn’t. How about this for low ball. The US congress spends 2.5 million US dollars per day to the house of congress. Think about it. And 25k for a gold medal is pathetic it should be 1 million plus. With higher winnings more american humans might want to go to the Olympics and actually brake some of those sad ass Olympic records. Just saying

  33. How much do the coaches get paid? And how do the athletes afford the coaches?

    • The family pays for them. Cut back on education and spend on coaching. That’s why it better pay off…

      • Gabbie’s coach was the coach for Shawn johnson and gabby who both won gold. He will easily be able to charge over $100+/ hr to train.

  34. The answer is obvious, they do it because they love it. Not all of us are wired that way, to endure the pain and sacrifice to be the best they can be. They get their own personal reward by being as good as they possibly can. It’s awesome and I thank them for it! It’s not always about money…..

    • John Burdix says:

      Yeah, that really sounds great but doesn’t feed, clothe, or support your family. Actually (per cnn)
      the average track & field athletes make less than 15,000 per year, with the exception of a select few. All that patriotic garb is fine, especially when your going hungry. This country could and should do a much better job of making sure that all the athletes can train without worrying how they’re going to live.

  35. Gabby will earn millions-
    “The gymnast’s agent has fielded hundreds of emails from businesses, talk shows and magazines interested in Douglas, and she’s already slated to appear on the cover of a Corn Flakes box. She stands to earn millions of dollars from endorsement deals and other ventures. Douglas has been training for two years in Iowa and hasn’t been home to Virginia Beach since then.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/08/05/gymnast-gabby-douglas-mom-filed-for-bankruptcy/#ixzz22ilOSSrB

    So, my point is many will earn many things from businesses.

    • I too thought they made more, whether or not its “right” Olympians win,especially since I saw a news segment talking about Olympic ticket sales and assumed tbeir winnings came from at least in part from those proceeds. I’m wondering how.much money London has brought in as a.result of the Olympics being held there. Where does that money go? Why an’t they share some dough since they wouldn’t be making squat without these amazing athletes.
      As for Richs comments,I FULLY agree with ya bud,those who serve our country SHOULD make more,not.sure why you all don’t. Thats the govt for ya. I am disgusted by this fact especially when i hear that the NASA robot “Curiousity” cost BILLIONS,i dont get it because do we really need to know certain aspects of space like say whether Jupiter has water or planets have other life forms. Really NASA? Cant the govt have some say and maybe throw some to military fund,the poor in US, and how about teachers? However Rich, I do thank you for serving and the immeasurable sacrifices offerex those who serve! I am also of the opinion that there is no need for these types of blogs to turn into nasty comments that have nothing to do with the article. I’ve seen this happen a lot lately and if its not about the post,it really shouldn’t be spoken about. Just a thought.

    • Many being the 50 of 500 athletes that win medals for the USA, or the 20 that win gold?

      • Even that the 1000’s that try and don’t make it

        • the only way you get endorsment deals is if you get Gold in select events. No one cares about silver. 1st is the winner, 2nd is not a winner, and 3rd no one remembers.

  36. Albatool says:

    what about Saudi Arabia ? Do you know how much do they pay for a medal ?

  37. Ben Trenton says:

    Most of these guys and gals are very young and will have a life AFTER the sport. Just like in high school or college sports, you dont make money doing it. After the Olympics, these athletes will be able to go to just about any college they want with a full ride. They can earn a degree and use the drive they learned as an athlete to create a nice life for themselves. Most of these guys seem like they do it for the LOVE of the sport and competition. To be at that level, I highly doubt they do it because they expect to be rich. They have been around long enough to know that most do not. Being an Olympic athlete will open doors and if they walk through them, they will create a nice life. Remember, most of these people are still kids or young adults. Their life is just starting and they have a lot of things ahead of them that they must learn to overcome. I’m PROUD of all of the Olympians from ALL countries. That drive and determination when applied to life will give them a leg up on many others.

  38. Sounds like the Hunger Games.

  39. Do the athletes who go to the olimpics receive any kind of a commemrative award for their competition, like a medallion of recognition?

  40. Belarus pays even more then Russian $150K for gold (http://goo.gl/cnqNe see the botton of the page)

  41. Olympians deserve every freaking penny. Look at the NFL and NBA players, they probably train half as much as endurance athletes, and get overpaid tremendously. If anything we need to pay our runners and swimmers more.

  42. Look at the ratings, across the world, during the Olympics. They can afford to bump a little off for the prize cash. Companies, sponsors, ads and stations … billions