Do olympians win money

Do Olympic Medal Winners Get Paid Prizes? It’s Complicated

The whole point of the Winter Olympic games is to compete hard so you can show some pride for your country and bring that shiny medal back home. The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic athletes are living their best lives right now. It’s all blood, sweat, tears and lots of hustle for the glory. Yeah sure, winning a medal is totally great and all, but if I’m being honest, what we all are dying to know is, do Olympic medal winners get paid prizes? Because everyone likes to make it rain.

Of course just being able to say you won at the Olympics is a hefty prize of its own, but some Olympic athletes do get some compensation. According to The New York Times, the athletes do not receive any money from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but medal winners are paid by the national federations — depending on what country they are from.

America, for instance pays their winning athletes the same across all sports. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) awards athletes $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver, $15,000 for bronze, according to The New York Times. Team-sport medalists split the money evenly amongst the team members. That’s 50 percent more than what athletes got during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Also, according to CNBC, their winnings in PyeongChang won’t be taxed if their total income is under $1 million.

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After the games in Rio, medalists were being taxed on their prize money, which they started referring to as the “victory tax.” But an Obama-era law signed in 2016 made a special exception for prize money won at the Olympics. Although it was passed in 2016, it was made to be retroactive to Dec. 31, 2015, meaning that Rio 2016 winners were able to claim the tax break, according to Time.

Some other countries award medalists money, though on various scaled. In Singapore, gold gets you a cool $1 million, with $500,000 for silver and $250,000 for bronze. That’s a lot of money. In addition to the U.S. and Singapore, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Italy, Hungary, Russia, France, South Africa, Germany, and Canada all give “medal bonuses.”

You might notice that the United Kingdom is not on that list. They do not hand out money for winning a medal. Instead, the country devotes government and lottery funds to the Olympics and Paralympics, according to the BBC. The funding is to help athletes with stipends and training through their run up to the Olympics. Olympic medalists receive a stipend of $36,000 USD a year, according to Money Under 30.

A yearly stipend could help athletes who, even if they place, only get that bit of cash. Even if it isn’t that much, a stipend means you have some cash flow for living expenses while you work your ass off to train and compete, which is something that a lot of athletes worry about when they are not competing.

The USOC has a performance-based stipend called Operation Gold in place which helps the athletes with expenses like rent and food, according to Bustle. Christy Cahill, USOC Director of Communications, explained that the program works by rewarding athletes for “top finishes in a sport’s most competitive senior international competition of the year.” She also explained that the payout is different every year depending on how close it is to the Olympic games.

Cahill also mentioned another program called Athlete Career & Education Program (ACE) that helps athletes with “non-competition” careers. Assisting them with things like job placement. She told Bustle,

In 2017, a total of 1,654 athletes were part of ACE and we had 129 job placements (90 part-time, 39 full-time). Finally, our sponsor DICK’S Sporting Goods has something called the Contenders Program, which offers flexible work schedules and a competitive wages to athletes training to be part of Team USA.

But it can be hard to live in-between competitions, from what some athletes have said. Team USA figure skater Adam Rippon tweeted on Feb. 3, just before the PyeongChang games began, about being broke and having to steal from his gym when he was a younger athlete.

The Olympics always have an air of glory and glamour to them, but I think most of us don’t really think about how the athletes get by when they are not skiing down the slopes or twirling on the ice for medals (and for our entertainment).

It takes a lot to train hard and win — it’s basically a full time job. I can’t imagine having that sort of commitment to something and being such a talented athlete, but also having to worry about money. I guess all that glory and honor of being the best must be really awesome.

Do The Olympic Athletes Get A Salary? Well, It’s A Little Complicated

Some people dream of competing in the Olympics, but only a select few actually get to see that dream realized. Millions of people from all over the world this month will watch as select athletes get to compete in the Winter Olympics and watching the Olympics might inspire some of those people to become an olympic athlete. But if money was ever motivation for their dreams, then finding out if the Olympic athletes get a salary might just put those dreams to a halt.

Money should never stop people from chasing their dreams, but if you thought the life of an Olympian was as glamorous as the cameras make it seem, then you thought wrong. While Olympic athletes do make money, they’re not just working 40 hours a week (or more) like someone who has an office job and who knows what they’ll be making at the end of each month or each year. Because that is what a “salary” technically is — a fixed amount of money that a person gets paid per paid period, regardless of how much time and effort they put into their job or the projects they take on the side.

But Olympic athletes make their money a little differently than most, according to CBS Sports, including athletes who play for a national sports team. Olympic athletes do not sign a contract guaranteeing them money, and according to USA Today, the United States government does not pay athletes for competing in the Olympics, even if they are there to represent the country (say what).

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Ahead of the 2012 Olympics, according to Forbes, one study found that half of the athletes ranked high in their sport, “only made $15,000 annually” from all sources of income. That includes endorsements, money won from competition, corporate sponsors, and grants given to them so they could go and compete in the Olympics. Compared to your average worker, this doesn’t seem like a lot. A 2015 study found that fresh college graduates earned an average salary of $50,556.

But that $15,000 didn’t come from one person or one source — the athletes had to work hard to get that money together. This is why you see so many athletes on Wheaties boxes in the cereal aisle at the grocery store every two years. Taking endorsements, even with Wheaties, helps the athletes make money during the the off season. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is worth a reported $55 million, according to E! News, largely due to the sponsorships he takes.

The reality is, some Olympic athletes from the United States have to work multiple jobs in between training so they can afford to go to the Olympics every four years. Some people work hourly jobs, according to The Penny Hoarder, working in retail or the food service industry — while other athletes have their own businesses, work in the entertainment industry, or coach sports themselves. But if they do have a salary, it is because of their side jobs, not because of the Olympics.

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But once Olympic athletes win gold medals, they do start seeing money come through (just through a bonus and not through a salary). All Olympic athletes competing for the United States earn a “medal bonus” according to Money Under 30, where they make money for each medal earned for their country.

During this year’s Winter Olympics, according to Business Insider, the United States Olympic Committee will pay athletes $37,500 for winning a gold medal, $22,500 for winning silver, and $15,000 for winning a bronze medal in every event they win in. Although this is far less than what other countries award their athletes, according to Business Insider, this bonus is the most money that Olympians have ever taken home for winning a medal.

But most Olympic athletes find value in the experience and getting their name out there than making money, according to USA Today. And at the end of the day, that kind of passion is what people preach to young children when it comes to finding a career. As the old saying goes, “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” And at the end of the day, for athletes competing in the Olympics, getting the opportunity to go for the gold (and actually winning a medal) is more important than any salary you can get in an office job.