How much money do Olympic athletes earn?

What do Olympic athletes earn? 32

Do Olympic athletes earn a lot of money?


With 2014 Olympics in full swing, everybody is talking about sports. While I’m not exactly an athletic person, I’ve always admired people who dedicate themselves to sports; especially if they get to the level of representing their country on the international scale - such as World championships and Olympic events.

At the same time being a huge financial nerd, I’ve always wondered if being an athlete pays anything. This is not exactly a regular job, isn’t it? You don’t work eight to five, you have to train a lot, you get to fly around the world, and quite often you’re asked to pee in a cup for drug testing. But do you make the big bucks?


You might want to get a real job


What do Olympic athletes earn?

What do Olympic athletes earn?


Just being an Olympic athlete doesn’t actually make you a lot of money. Olympic athletes do earn a small stipend ($200-$2,000), and many of your expenses are reimbursed such as travel, hotels, and training camps. Your clothes will also be provided by the official sponsor - Hudson Bay Company in Canada and Nike in United States. Also, being an athlete with higher risk of injury, you are provided a special health insurance that covers sport-related risks and injuries.

So, at first glance being an Olympic athlete isn’t the best way to get rich quick. In fact, you might want to hold on to your day job in order to pay the bills. Being an athlete is far from being cheap as you have to invest a lot of time into training, eat properly, and buy specialized equipment.  But there’s more money in sports!


Medals = Money!


In 2007 Canadian government announced it will be rewarding Canadian athletes financially for earning medals at high-level events such as World championships and Olympic Games. Just for that reason Athlete Excellence Fund (AEF) has been established. Funding comes from government (federal and provincial) and corporate sponsors. In 2012 over two million dollars went into Athlete Excellence Fund to support training, research, and athletes’ compensation.


What you stand to earn by grabbing medals:


$20,000 - Olympic gold medal

$15,000 - Olympic silver medal

$10,000 - Olympic bronze medal

$5,000 - Top 5 position in World Championship.

Canada is not the only country to reward their Olympic athletes for earning medals. In fact, some countries offer much higher rewards for earning gold at Olympic Games. Some of the numbers are truly mind-boggling:


What do Olympic athletes earn?

What do Olympic athletes earn?


- Azerbaijan (I’ll give you $5 if you know where this country is located the prize has been claimed by one of my awesome readers!) will pay $510,000 to their athletes if they bring home gold medal from Olympic Games in Sochi. Out of four athletes from Azerbaijan (have you found it yet?), none are expected to bring any medals though.

- Singapore was ready to pay $800,000 for gold medals in London Olympic Games. No gold medals were earned by their athletes that year.

- In United States, government pays $25,000 to gold winners, $15,000 to those who earn silver, and $10,000 for bronze.

- On top of monetary compensation, some countries offer luxury cars, apartments, and even supply of food to those who bring home medals.

- British Olympic athletes earn absolutely nothing for their medals, but winning has other benefits. From the moment any take gold medal, Royal Mail will begin designing a stamp bearing their image and deliver them to 500 post offices for sale the following day!



Where the big money is!


But the main source of income for athletes isn’t financial rewards for medals. Most of the money Olympic athletes earn come from corporate sponsorships. Larger companies such as Nike, Nokia, Adidas, Gatorade, and many others want consumers to associate their products with high performing athletes. To do this, they sponsor selected athletes and provide them with steady stream of income sometimes reaching millions of dollars. In return, sponsored athletes wear their brands at sporting events, appear on their advertising, and participate in corporate events.


What do Olympic athletes earn?

What do Olympic athletes earn?


Amount of money Olympic athletes earn from sponsorships can reach stratosphere but you must understand far from everybody can earn this. Most corporate sponsorships are much more modest.


Top ‘Olympic’ sponsorship earners (as of 2012):


1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - $20,000,000. Sponsors: Puma ($9m p.a), Visa, Gatorade, Nissan, Hublot, Virgin Media.

2. Kim Yuna (South Korea). - $9,000,000.  Sponsors: Kookmin Bank, Nike, Korean Air, Hyundai.

3. Michael Phelps (USA).  - $7,000,000. Sponsors: Speedo, Visa, Omega, and Under Armour.


  • Did you hear about the Olympian at the current games whose father sold a cow every week to pay for her training fees? There’s some serious dedication!

    • Financial Underdog


      Yup! That was Kaitlyn Farrington. Quite a story behind it for sure.

      There’s also Justin Reiter who was basically homeless and lived out of his truck for quite some time just to save up money to be able to go to Olympics. That’s dedication!

  • Interesting numbers. I wonder what the pay policy is for team events. For instance, if the whole hockey team winds gold, do they EACH get 25k?

    • Financial Underdog


      Yes, I believe if a hockey team wins gold medal (Go Canada, eh!), everybody gets the prize as everybody gets a gold medal. Weird, eh?

      Thank you for visiting, love your website by the way 🙂

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  • Jane

    The Russians were paid quite well this year. Vic Wild was paid $270.00(2 golds) + 150,000 Mercedes. His wife received $35,000 and the smaller Mercedes.

    • Financial Underdog

      Wow, we’re in the wrong business…:)

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  • Frederick

    Thanks guys,now i know where i am going.keep on the good work.

    • hey, thanks this website helped a lot for my project.

      • Financial Underdog

        Glad to help 🙂

  • Athlete’s Dad

    It is better to study and earn a living than take up athletics. We are talking about 20M$ for Usain Bolt, who is into 100m. A high jumper or a steeplechaser may get nothing close to that. Each one of them is the best or in the top 5 in the world to get these peanuts. In education, you dont need to be a Noble laureate to make money. Just a good degree and say in the top 10percentile will give you much more than that. I am actually curious if any athlete who can fit in IQ level of top 10percentile will ever take up Athletics alone as a career. I am not even talking about top 1percentile or .01percentile. A Usain Bolt is probably say 1 in 7billion and even if we have 100 like him, it is very very low percentile.
    Summary, Atheletes are paid pittance for their worth in US and also in India where I live.

    • Marshawn Lacy

      Athletes dad -Im an athlete myself with a great deal for track athletics you must understand yes only the few make hundreds and thousands and multi-millions in the sport but we do and I dont belive that every person with a degree will earn the same type of money let alone in whe worlds econmey today be able to get those positions that they studied for I have a girlfriend of mine that recived her PHD over 7 years ago and had been working for the same company for 8 years and know she has to resign beacuse of budget cuts…Many people look for the easy way there is none. No Matter what proffesion or what you do for a living theres always hard work applyed. Yes it is Tuff in the Sport Of Athletics to earn top doller but as I can say myself thats the way it is just like an actor, filmaker,comedian,or musican. In Athletics if your in the top 20-50 you earn multi-millions to thousands of dollors anything below this ranking you wont these amount. There are many of soccor players that are ranked top 20-50 in the world or in there country that earn millions to hundres thousands of dollors, those that are not ranked are payed much much less if not nothing at all. Much has to do with sponsorships Endoursments Apperence Fee Winning sponsor bonus and Prize Money and also the country you reside in. Mind you the kneya distance runners usally walk away with between 50,000 and 300,000 for racing but imangine how much that is in kenya to them. They live like Kings.

      • brandon

        I am a high school wrestler could you give me advice

        • Total biscuit

          Don’t get your nuts stuck between the competitors buttcheeks, I’m a professional wrestler myself. Also kiss him after you finish

    • tiara

      Americans get paid so little because we dominate the Olympics. It is easy for an American Olympian to also get some type of sponsorship. If there are 100 medals given out. America would get 40 of them. And you can see the places who has never had a medal win would basically give you a half of million dollars real quick. Its all about frequency. Not about the worth. The lack of frequency makes it rare which drives up the price. It is simple.

    • I believe athletes should earn much more to what they do at the moment, they deserve the financial reward, more appreciation and recognition. However regardless of how much money they earn or not, the personal satisfaction of being one of the best and representing your state or a country is worth much more then any money can give. No talent should be wasted. It’s parents’ responsibility to recognise your child’s talent and give your child a good start with lots of support and encouragement along the way. One day your child can share his or her story with a younger generation and be recognised in books. As a mum of a starting athlete who is a natural talent, I do believe he will go all the way and I will be there every step of the way. Dreams do come true. It is all worth it. I will never stop believing.

  • Jamie

    Is the thing about UK athletes getting stamps made a joke when other countries are showered in riches they get stamps made I am crying with laughter at this

  • Glenn Brietzke

    Do runners that place 4 th get a retirement check for the rest of there life from the USA government.

  • Thanks for this, it has answered a lot of my questions. I’m too old for the Olympics now.

    • Financial Underdog

      Thank you, Sharon!

  • MaddogmarkTKD

    I am an aspiring teen with an ambition to one day win the olympics due to passion for taekwondo but i am a british teen if i were to win olympic gold what would i get besides the stamps. Thanks

  • Donald M Theis

    FYI; American athletes get nothing from the US government. If you would do some research before opinin g , you would have discovered that fact. The prizes they win are from the governing bodie s of their sport.

  • brian taylor

    as far as I understand top athletes ie gold winners receive sponsorship money which can be quite eye watering.These athletes have enjoyed extensive financial packages to facilitate training far as I know they do not have regular 9-5 jobswould it not be a very patriotic gesture for those in receipt of money to donate some of it to the treasury to support some of the institutions in their own country whose flag the wrap themselves in so readily.that would be a wonderful way of saying thank you to their fellow citizens who have supported the so eagerly.


    Hello I m Esther Green I was in the Olympic 1985 only got a bronze medal can I get , my monetary award I was little then

  • Hellothere

    It’s most parents dreams to have their kids to become Olympians. Many retired athletes ended sitting at home with no real experience to hold a job, financial stress, and ended up getting a divorce. That is why you are either from filthy rich family or extremely poor that you get nothing to lose then you train for the Olympics.