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How Much Money do Olympians Make?


Olympians are experienced athletes who participate in the Olympic Games. These people can attain excellent results in their specific sport. Athletes earn an income that will depend on the sport they participate in and whether or not they win a medal. If you dream of competing in the Olympics, understanding how you can earn an income from that will help you plan well for your career path. In this piece, we enlighten you on who an Olympian is, explain to you how much money Olympians make, and describe the main sources of income as an Olympian.

Who is an Olympian?

An Olympian or an Olympic athlete is simply a person who competes in Olympic Games. These are huge international sporting events where talented athletes represent their nations by showcasing their abilities. Olympians devote so much of their time to training for these international sporting games. According to Sporting News, the events mostly take place after every four years alternating between summer and winter sports. An Olympian could specialize in different sports, including swimming and field games. Based on the sport, Olympians may participate individually or as a team along with other qualified athletes.

Requirements for athletes to compete in Olympics

Being an Olympian requires vigorous training and good preparation. To compete in the Olympics, you are supposed to have quality athleticism and be focused on competing at the international level. Below are some of the requirements to participate in Olympic competitions.


Most athletes who participate in the Olympics have so many years of experience in sporting events. In most cases, they have competed at the regional, local, and national levels. For most sports, taking part in different competitions help aspiring Olympians gain access to the funding required for the games. Before participating in the Olympic qualifiers, ensure you are confident in your ability to compete at every other level.


A prospective Olympian is required to have the best physical strength and athletic abilities. To qualify for the Olympics, you should have skills in stress management as the Olympics could require you to perform under high mental stress. Ensure that you are willing to accept critique from your teammates and coaches. You should possess other personal qualities and skills, including collaboration, communication, motivation, sports knowledge, and perseverance.


The last and most important requirement for aspiring Olympians is training. You have to dedicate quality time to training in your sport before competing in the Olympics. It is good to hire a professional coach to ensure you are well prepared for the Olympics. According to CNBC, the training could involve adherence to daily schedules and planning the meals. This helps to ensure that you have the needed calories.

How much money do Olympians make?

According to the United States Bureau for Labor Statistics, professional sports competitors take home $77,300 annually on average. Olympic athletes are not on a monthly payroll for competing in the Olympics, as in other sporting games. Instead, they receive some bonuses if they win gold, silver, or bronze. The USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) is responsible for awarding athletes after winning the medals. After competing in the Olympics, Olympians might also receive corporate sponsorships, appearance stipends, endorsement deals, and other revenue sources. Do not be surprised to learn that some athletes make millions of dollars after winning these medals.

The funds are from private donors and not taxpayers. Additionally, sports governing bodies could sweeten the pot and present more awards to the Olympians. Considering the commitment and time it takes to be dominant personnel in sports, the financial boost is a big help. With professional athletes like Simone Biles raking in money through endorsement deals, other Olympians work in part-time jobs. Others maintain a full-blown career besides their training.

Most countries, including China, France, and Australia, maintain a similar program as the United States for rewarding athletes. However, the United Kingdom stands out as an exception. Normally, Brits compete to earn pride and honor alone. With the athletes taking home zero pounds, the government funds sports with money similar to the medal potential. This one is a controversial but very effective strategy.

How Olympian athletes earn their incomes

Once Olympians have been chosen to compete in Olympics, an athlete could receive grants or corporate sponsorships to support their preparations. According to Sports Management Degree Hub, this is normally a good source of income for most athletes lucky enough to get these sponsorships. The deals come in handy since the training time athletes use prevents them from engaging in a full-time job. Through grants and sponsorships, athletes can pay their training fees, travel, and meet other expenses involved in their careers. Below, we have listed some of the main ways that an athlete could earn income from the Olympics:

Medal Bonuses

The IOC, the games' organizing body, does not pay athletes who participate in a certain Olympiad. They also do not give money for the medals that an athlete wins. It is similar to how the NBA and NFL are not responsible for paying players. As opposed to that, individual teams in a league are the ones that offer compensation. In these leagues, there are minimum salaries that a team must meet. This is different in Olympics since there are no requirements to pay athletes. The onus, instead, rests on private parties of individual nations.

As mentioned, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) does not necessarily reward Olympic athletes with cash after competing, and athletes are entitled to bonuses. The USOPC awards these bonuses according to the athlete's medals. The higher the medal rank, the better the pay. If athletes compete in a team, the teammates divide the money. In the United States, the USOPC gives $37,500 for gold medals, $22,500 for silver medals, and $15,000 for bronze medals. To add to the bonus, medalists are also allowed to keep their medals. You need to note that these medals could have a high monetary value depending on the metal used to make them.

Generally, the most common way that different countries opt to pay their best athletes who emerge victorious in their fields is via medal bonuses. Most of these countries offer monetary awards to these athletes for the number and the kind of medals they have won at the Olympics.

Corporate Sponsorships

A few Olympians receive only direct income after competing comes from corporate sponsorships. A corporate could pay to have its brand linked to an athlete or team preparing for the Olympic Games. What happens is that their logos will appear on the athlete's gear or clothing. According to Finance Yahoo, the corporate sponsorship could include other advertising that athletes participate in before the Olympics. Based on the sponsorship type, the company could offer funds athletes use to train and complete their sports successfully.

For a professional Olympian such as Naomi Osaka, corporate sponsorship will mean so much dough to support her as she trains and competes. It is reported that Osaka has earned $55 million from endorsements for the past 12 months. She has also taken home an extra $5 million from sponsorships. After being billed as the "new face of tennis," Osaka has big-brand sponsors, including Louis Vuitton, Google, and Levi's.

The case for Kevin Durant, the 2-time Olympic gold winner, is different. Kevin has gained success from both Olympics and being a professional NBA star. Additionally, he has invested in different companies via his venture capital firm, the Thirty-Five Ventures. In his estimated net worth of $75 million, $40 million is believed to be from sponsorships. However, he has leveraged the sponsorships into business investments, which is all that makes the difference.


This is more similar to corporate sponsorship. Companies could establish endorsement deals or direct relationships with the athlete. If an athlete has already won a medal, companies will find them attractive for them to endorse their companies. In the deal, the athlete will agree to promote the services and products of the company. After that, the athlete is compensated. For instance, an athlete could wear a particular brand of sneakers. The athlete might also allow the image to be used on the cereal box from a famous food company.

A good example is American gymnast Simone Biles, who won 4 Gold medals in Rio 2016. This is among the 102 international Olympians endorsed by Visa in Tokyo. Additionally, Simone parted ways with the sportswear company Nike recently. She signed a sponsorship deal with another clothing company, Athleta. From the high end of the scale, a Jamaican-based sprinting legend, Usain Bolt, has made a fortune from endorsements. Bolt is an eight-time Olympic gold medalist who has gotten at least $30 million annually from endorsements.

A recent change of rules by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has allowed athletes to benefit from endorsements when competing at the Olympics. This does not disqualify them from playing U.S. College sports. Before, they had to be professional and lose their eligibility in the college system according to the NCAA principles.

The unfortunate thing about endorsements is that most Olympians cannot count on endorsements as a source of income. You must reach the prominence levels of people like Usain Bolt and Simone Biles to be endorsed by the big companies.

Performance-based stipends

In the United States, athletes receive performance-based stipends from the USOPC. The stipend helps these athletes to cover their competing and living expenses all year round, including rent and food. The amount the athletes qualify for depends on their place in the year's championship.

Extra funding sources

There are other ways that an athlete could gain funding. For instance, their families and friends could fund them before competing. Others could land a sponsorship from local businesses or find a part-time job via special job opportunities programs. To access the employment program through the USOPC, an Olympic athlete should achieve some ranking in their sport.

Other than this funding, most teams have corporate and private donors who pay for the Olympian's traveling expenses. According to NBC Sports, that allows the athlete to save or even spend their money on some other expenses. After competing in Olympics, most athletes also feature in other careers such as public speaking, coaching, and writing.

How much do Olympic athletes who did not win medals earn?

Have you asked yourself what happens to athletes who participate in the Olympics but win no medal? To be selected to participate in the Olympics is not a simple thing. These athletes are therefore compensated in different measures. For instance, field and track stars earn an average of $15,000 and below annually in the United States. However, this goes to the top 10 athletes in their events nationally. The rest of the Olympians must find other means of making ends meet.

Meanwhile, IOC (International Olympic Committee) members are paid more for watching the Olympics than athletes will make after competing in the sports. They are believed to take home $7000 for two and a half weeks of work.


The pay that Olympians get varies from one nation to the other. While some countries award winners with pride and honor alone, others offer monetary rewards to their athletes. In the United States, for instance, athletes receive other forms of support apart from the monetary value of their medals. Champions access health insurance, top-tier medical facilities, and college tuition assistance. In Singapore, gold medalists get almost 20 times compared to the U.S. players who clinch their first gold medal.

This prize money is, however, subject to tax, where the awardees are expected to return part of the money to the national sports association. This helps for future development and training. Contrary to most people's belief, the Olympics require you to be the best in your sport to make money. Additionally, Olympians are not entitled to the traditional salary that other sports offer the players, like soccer. High-profile competitors are sponsored by corporations or paid for endorsing a company's products and services. Unless you win as an Olympian, you will hardly get paid for competing at the Olympics. Different studies have shown that many Olympic athletes consider themselves financially unstable.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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