Olympic medal money varies by country but in the U.S. athletes make $25K for gold, $15K for silver and $10K for bronze, plus millions in endorsements. The endorsements however only come to the cream of the Olympic crop, with athletes like phenom Michael Phelps scoring the most medals ever and the most endorsement deal riches. Some countries like Azerbaijan will pay $510,000 for a gold (they’ve never had to break the seal on that) while others like Italy can and do pay $180,000 for a gold. The tables below show the breakdown. As of 8/24/16, USA athletes earned $2.08 million in 2016 Olympic money.
Olympic Medal Money: How Much do Athletes Get?
Some websites erroneously report that Olympic athletes make $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze. That’s not strictly true, because it seems to say that all Olympic athletes make that money. They don’t. That Olympic medal money only goes to U.S. athletes as a bonus for winning. The table below shows how much money an American champion makes per medal.
Olympics Money Per Medal
The colorful "Selarón Steps" in Rio de Janeiro. Chilean artist Jorge Selarón's tribute to the people of Brazil. pic.twitter.com/jc2WR4fAak
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 30, 2016
Olympic Money by Country
Aside from the U.S. Olympic medal money bonuses in the table above, most other countries pay their own prizes. That can be anywhere from $510,000 per gold medal in Azerbaijan, $180,000 for an Italian gold medal champion, $135,000 for a Russian who takes home the gold or $19,500 for a gold medal winning German. The table below shows some of the top pay rates for gold medals from different countries. We’ve left out a lot of $200,000 and over bounties from somewhat smaller countries that have never won a gold medal in any sport. The most Olympic money ever for one medal comes from Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, who beat Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly for an $880,000 gold medal bounty.
Olympic Money Per Gold Medal by Country
|Country||Olympic Gold Medal Money|
Also see: Michael Phelps Net Worth
Athletes with the Most Olympics Money
Despite being on the low-end of the per-medal Olympics money scale, U.S. athletes seem to take home more than their share of the loot. The five top-earning Olympians since 2000 are shown in the table below. Michael Phelps tops the list. He has earned $500,000 in Olympic money since 2004. Phelps has taken 28 medals in all. That’s 23 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze. That’s the most medals of any Olympian in history. With $25,000 for each gold, plus money for the silvers and bronzes, Phelps has over half a million in Olympic medal money. That’s still only a small portion of the money Phelps has made, with most of it coming from endorsements. Viktor Ahn has earned the second-most Olympics money since 2000, despite only being in the 2014 Olympics and winning 18 fewer medals than Michael Phelps. That’s because three of his four medals were gold, which in Russia pays $135,000 each. If Ahn had the same medal count as Phelps, he’d have $2.48 million on Olympic prize money. Stefania Belmondo of Italy benefits from a similar lopsided pay scale. With only one gold medal, she still makes the list with $180,000 in Italian reward cash.
Athletes with the Most Olympic Money (since 2000)
|Olympic Athlete||Medals||Olympic Money|
|Michael Phelps (USA Swimming 2004-2012)||22||$500,000|
|Viktor Ahn (Russia Speed Skating 2014||4||$405,000|
|Ryan Lochte (USA Swimming 2004-2012)||11||$200,000|
|Natalie Coughlin (USA Swimming 2004-2012)||12||$185,000|
|Stefania Belmondo (Italy Cross Country Ski 2002||3||$180,000|
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) July 27, 2016
Endorsements: The Real Olympics Prize Money
With the biggest Olympic medal money winner in the past 15 years earning half a million, it doesn’t seem like the Olympics are very lucrative for anyone. However, in an age where celebrities like Kim Kardashian can turn a leaked sex tape into a multi-million dollar career, fame is money. It’s important to note that not all Olympians get big endorsement deals. All of them probably get something, though for the bottom-tier athletes that may just be free gear and plane tickets. The very top athletes however get big, big sponsor deals. The biggest in the U.S. is Michael Phelps. He became a household name for taking down 22 gold medals so far in his Olympic career. His famous pot-smoking scandal only helped his popularity. Phelps has done a great job turning that notoriety into ready cash. He has made an estimated $94 million in endorsement deals since 2001. In 2016 alone he is widely expected to make $12 million. Phelps has signed deals with Visa, Under Armour, Hilton, Subway, AT&T and several more big-name companies. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has made over $8 million each year for his deal with Puma. Most don’t do as well. Standout athlete Ryan Lochte is only expected to pull in about $3 million this year in Olympics money from endorsement contracts. The unknowns will make far less.