U.S. Olympic Hopefuls are Living in Poverty, Real Sports Investigates the Olympic Athlete Pay Gap

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The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on February 8th, with the U.S. among the favorites to finish with the most medals; but unlike “almost every country” at the games in PyeongChang, South Korea, many U.S. athletes got there with little to no financial assistance from the country’s Olympic Committee. This is despite the U.S.O.C being guaranteed hundreds of millions over the next decade. While U.S.O.C. CEO Scott Blackmun will make more than $1 million this year (a 10% raise from last year) and the CEO of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard organization takes in more than $500,000/year, many of those trying to get there are living at or below the poverty line. Tonight (Jan. 30) at 10p EST, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel examines the U.S. Olympic athlete pay gap.

Howie Long-Short: Most Olympic delegations are treated as employees of the government, receiving full-time compensation and benefits; but that’s not the case in the U.S. U.S. Olympic hopefuls are financing the costs associated with their qualification (i.e. training, equipment), with part time jobs, crowdfunding and credit card debt; often ending up broke in their pursuit of gold. The story cites Michael Phelps and Simone Biles as examples of athletes who succeeded financially; but the pay gap between those two is massive. Based on the public information available, it appears as if Phelps is worth between $50-$55 million; while Simone has an estimated net worth of just $2.6 million to $3 million.

Fan Marino: Most Olympic athletes find compensation is tied to placing in competition and endorsements (the potential of which is restricted by U.S.O.C. regulations). Speaking in the most general terms, gold medals are worth $25,000, silver medals are worth $15,000 and bronze medals are worth $10,000 in prize money.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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