After looking at the Olympic brand in my last blog, let’s take a look at how it connects with the individual athletes. To say there is a disconnect would be an understatement! While the US Olympic committee brings in an estimated $600 – $800 million a year in revenue, the athletes get paid nothing to compete or train for the Olympics. That’s right, nothing!
While the Olympics (as in the International Olympic Committee and the USOC) are raking it in, the athletes are doing it solely for the love of the game or sport they participate in. Just how many athletes are cashing in? Very, very few even make it to the Olympic games, and then only a fraction actually cash in from completing in them.
A few statistics to support this: The average United States athlete could earn $25,000 for an Olympic gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze; that’s not enough for you to live on. However, some countries offer more. In 2012, Russia paid its athletes $135,000 for a gold medal, $81,600 for silver and $54,400 for bronze. Italy paid gold medalists $182,400 in 2012. The country also paid salaries of $64,000 to each of its 14 gold medal winners from the 2008 games through the 2012 summer games. Malaysia offers any athlete that wins a gold medal, a gold bar worth $600,000 (but that hasn’t happened since 1956!).
There are approximately 15,000 athletes competing in 26 sports, with around 1,000 medals up for grabs for the best of the best. The USA Track and Field Foundation found that only half of the US track and field athletes ranked in the top ten in the nation make more than $15,000 a year from the sport. As you can see there are few Olympians who are able to cash in the hard work and effort into a pot of gold.
As we sit on the couch and watch the great spectacle of the Olympics, remember that most of them have a regular job just like you and me, working hard to be the best they can be competing for the love of the game or their chosen sport. They do it not only for the love of the sport but because they want to represent their country and be proud of themselves for all the hard work they are putting in just to compete.
Let’s root on our favorite athletes, enjoy the sport and celebrate for the love of the game and the great brand we love – the Olympics! And speaking of enjoying the Olympics and doing it for the love of the sport, I’m thinking it’s time for me to get on down to the curling sheet and start training for the 2018 Olympic Games in Korea. Now THAT is a sport I actually think I could excel in! Can’t you just see me in one of these outfits?