As most Americans are doing this summer, I've been watching the 2016 Olympics. A time that only comes around every four years, the Olympics offer the chance to get acquainted with unfamiliar competitive sporting events like ping pong, trampolining and equestrian dressage; an event where a horse prances around the inside of a square sandbox. (The stadium was filled with what had to be 85 percent passersby who only came in because they were promised a free soda and hot dog if they stayed through the medal ceremony).
Last night I found myself watching another heap of swimming events. My wife used to swim as a kid and I explained to her that I was fascinated by just how many swimming events there are. Though I feel compelled to argue the fact, she assures me there are only four different strokes you can use in swimming competitions. Based on the number of swim events we've seen televised on NBC networks, my assumption was the Olympics decided to include the “water tread” and “doggy paddle” as additional events this year.
As we watched Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte's Anderson-Cooper-hair last night, my mind drifted back to an assumption I've always held, and then expressed out loud.
“Olympians don't get paid... Do they?…” My wife looked at me, half offended and said "Of course they do!"
For some reason, in 29 years of life and having seen enough Olympic summers to remember the butterflies I used to get when I saw Dominique Dawes do her floor exercise, (I was 9-years-old and distinctly recall getting short of breath when she came on screen), it’s never occurred to me that Olympians were competing for anything other than the medals they win and for the pride of their country.
So as we do in this age, we took to Google to see exactly how much Olympians get paid for winning medals. I was shocked.
A Business Insider story explains the U.S. Olympic Committee pays medal winners $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. MoneyUnder30.com has an entire chart listing the highest payouts by country this year. Singapore tops the list, paying $741,000 for gold, $371,00 for silver and $185,000 for bronze.
You can see the full chart here.
One thing I know for sure, is if this entrepreneur thing doesn't work out, I plan to learn the Malayan language, turn in my U.S. citizenship, become a citizen of Singapore and begin training to become the fastest race walker in that nation’s sports history.
If I can just earn myself a bronze, or even a Silver medal... I'll be set.
Ben Carter is the Host of Manage Your Damn Money, Creative Director at MYDM Creative and author of Fictitious Financial Fairytale: A Completely Untrue Story About Money, Friends and Moscow Mules.