Matt Biondi. Ring a bell? Probably not, right? He’s only one of the more decorated American Olympians of all time–an eleven-time Olympic medalist in swimming, and former world record-holder in five events in the late 80’s, early 90’s. But you couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
The whole everlasting glory schtick that is perpetually tied to the Olympics is, for the most part, a tall tale. Us Americans will trade in our heroes for a newer, fresher version with less thought that we do our iPhones. So, for most athletes, its important to strike while the iron’s hot and collect as much cash for their time in the sun as possible.
But, as I’ve learned today, depending on where you’re from, getting rich(er) from securing an Olympic gold may or may not be in the cards.
Check out the graphic below that illustrates the estimated bonus per gold medal at the Rio Olympics, by country.
The difference is incredible. Although some countries give out fringe benefits–South Koreans get military exemptions and Germans receive a free lifetime supply of beer if they succeed–Great Britain gets jack shit.
A BOA spokesman shed some light on Britain’s stinginess:
“It is our view that financial rewards do not significantly impact the motivation of an athlete to reach the Olympic podium.
“We believe that the drive, dedication and commitment required of Team GB athletes is motivated, first and foremost, by the desire to represent their country to the very best of their ability on the greatest sporting stage in the world, the Olympic Games; and their love of sport.”
On the other side of that coin, we have Joseph Schooling, who became the first Singaporean to win a gold medal after his victory in the men’s 100-metre butterfly. He added an estimated bonus of $753,000 to his bank account. Andy Murray, on the other hand, got a pat on the back from his nation.