Here’s The Deal With The U.S. Olympic Medal Earnings Controversy After Olympian Puts U.S. On Blast

ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

  • After U.S. Olympic fencer Monica Aksamit’s TikTok was circulated by millions, a debate about the payouts associated with Olympic glory gripped the nation people on Twitter.
  • The United States pays $37,500 in prize money for an Olympic Gold medal, 1/17th that of the Philippines Gold medal payout.
  • Read more Olympic news here

The Tokyo Olympics are officially in the books and 330 million United States citizens have joined hands and celebrated the country’s medal stranglehold, hauling in 25 more total medals than second-place China.

Just kidding.

It wouldn’t be America if after utter and absolute domination on the world stage, we yelled at each other online over something relatively innocuous. U-S-A! Dominant and divided!

Today, after USA fencer and 2016 fencing bronze medalist Monica Aksamit posted a TikTok that was viewed 20+ million times, we find ourselves in the weeds about the payouts associated with Olympic glory.

Aksamit, who told the Post in 2019 that she needed to raise $21,000 to punch her ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, put the United States on blast for finishing near dead last in prize money given to winning Olympians.


Gold: $740,357
Singapore: $370,178
Bronze: $185,089

Singapore Tokyo 2020 Medal Count: 0
Total Payout: $0


Gold: $746,000
Silver: $378,000
Bronze: $188,000

Indonesia Tokyo 2020 Medal Count: 5 (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze)
Total Payout: $1,500,000


Gold: $656,000
Silver: $337,000
Bronze: $139,000

Philippines Tokyo 2020 Medal Count: 4 (1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze)
Total Payout: $1,469,000



Gold: $37,500
Silver: $22,500
Bronze: $15,000

USA Tokyo 2020 Medal Count: 113 (39 Gold, 41 Silver, 33 Bronze) – 252 medals total, as team sports and relays only count as single medals
Total Payout: $7,000,000+
Caeleb Dressel Payout: $187,500

A lot of people online are saying the payout is even more egregious when taxes come into play, in the same way lottery winnings are taxable. This is fake news, kind of.

Obama passed the Olympians and Paralympians Act of 2016, excluding from federal income tax calculations “the value of any medal awarded in, or any prize money” received from the USOC or competition in Olympic and Paralympic Games. The near-unanimous pass, categorizing the Olympics as a form of service to the country, effectively ended the “victory tax” for those who earn less than $1 million per year. 

Rich Guy Michael Phelps’ estimated 2016 tax bill for his five gold medals and one silver medal he won in Rio was $55,000, and that was during a time when the payouts were $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Simone Biles’ bill during the Rio games was projected to be $43,000 for her four golds and a bronze.

For the Tokyo Games, USA Olympic mens players are the most negatively impacted by the bill’s caveat. All of them, NBA players who earn well over $1 million annually, will be taxed $14,000 in federal income taxes on their $37,500 prize for Gold, according to Yahoo!

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I’m divided. While it’s tough to see our athletes getting skimped on cash given our gluttonous national nature, I would advise anyone reading this not to go into fencing if they’re looking for financial independence. Or blogging.




Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.