Let the games begin! Following their impressive medal finishes at the Olympics and Paralympics, athletes can expect to take home an impressive salary per competition victory.
Olympians traditionally earn a generous monetary reward from their home country after clinching a gold, silver or bronze medal in their sport.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — which organizes the Games — does not pay athletes for their winning performances, many countries offer some form of compensation for a podium finish on their own.
For instance, the United States offers winners a modest salary per medal, while other countries have their own bonus amounts set. For example, Singapore reportedly pays gold medalists $744,000 and Italy pays their first-place winners $212,400, according to CNBC. However, not every country offers monetary bonuses after a medal finish, including Great Britain, New Zealand and Sweden, according to a Forbes report. Some countries, including England, may offer their participants stipends or grants from national sports associations instead.
For Team USA, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) rewards winning athletes with a set sum, but athletes can collect other forms of revenue to boost their salaries. Many well-known Games participants also collect multimillion-dollar endorsements from well-known brands. For example, tennis champ Naomi Osaka became the highest-paid female athlete in 2020, having earned a lucrative $37.4 million from prize money and endorsement deals, according to Forbes. She has 15 current deals, including one with Nike.
Other athletes may hold additional jobs outside of their training to supplement their revenue streams. For example, Ilona Maher plays for the U.S. Women’s Sevens rugby team and, per her Instagram profile, also works as a registered nurse.
Compared to the Olympics and their large monetary rewards, Paralympic champions historically have not earned as much for each medal finish. The New York Times previously reported that Team USA athletes received $7,500 per gold; $5,250 per silver and $3,750 per bronze.
In September 2018, the International Paralympic Committee announced future champions would earn the same amount as competitors in the Olympic Games. This new ruling increases their winning payments by as much as 400 percent.
“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change. I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we’re eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in Pyeongchang.”
This USOC’s monetary increase will also retroactively pay more than $1.2 million to the 2018 Winter Paralympic champions.
Paralympic Nordic skiing champion Oksana Masters tweeted her emotional reaction to hearing the news at the time, “As I was reading this tears literally were streaming down my face not only bc of the equal pay for @Paralympics medals to @USParalympics athlete but the value and worth of Para athletes finally viewed equal to @Olympics. This is absolutely LIFE changing @TeamUSA thank you.”
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Scroll below to see how much Olympic and Paralympic athletes from Team USA collect after winning a gold, silver or bronze medal: