According to various sources, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is worth as much as $70 million and made approximately $26 million over the past year, between his NBA contract and 11 or so endorsement deals. He also sleeps next to Gabrielle Union, and that’s priceless. That’s all worth noting because it was Wade who caused a stink a few months ago when he said that he and his fellow NBA superstars should be paid for playing in the 2012 Summer Olympics, just like all of the other athletes from around the world. No wait, he didn’t say that second part, because it’s not true.
The truth is not many of the 15,000 athletes that are about to compete for just 1,000 medals receive anything other than a cool trip to London for their efforts. Well, except maybe a few dozen STDs. Adam Taylor at Business Insider had a very interesting article up yesterday about how much various Olympic athletes actually earn, and perhaps the most shocking revelation is that the International Olympics Committee made more than $745 million during the setup and payoff of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
From the U.S. alone. Maybe Wade doesn’t seem like such a dick after all.
Not a penny of that money goes to the athletes, whether they come first or last.
But that doesn’t mean that athlete’s earn no money, per se. For one thing, a variety of different, non-IOC groups do give out money.
For example, the United States Olympic Committee pays out medal bonuses: $25,000 goes for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze (Though, as Yahoo! Sports notes, these prices haven’t changed in 10 years, and are now worth over 5 grand less due to inflation). American athletes may also expect smaller prizes — a fund set up for wrestlers that will award a gold medal winner $250,000 springs to mind.
Other countries sometimes give out even bigger rewards — any Malaysian gold medal winner will get a gold bar worth $600,000 (not that there have been any since 1956).
And obviously, as Taylor points out, a lot of American athletes have their endorsement and sponsorship money rolling in. That probably means more money than ever for our mainstream athletes, as NPR points out that more than 4 billion people will watch the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
It’s also interesting to note that some companies that sponsor individual athletes but not the entire Olympics are actually screwing themselves over.
To understand what this means, consider Michael Phelps: Subway has long sponsored the Olympic swimmer, but it’s not an Olympicsponsor. That means no Subway ads featuring Phelps can air between July 18 and Aug. 15. But this Head & Shoulders commercial of Phelps washing his hair is fine — Head & Shoulders is owned by Procter & Gamble, which is an Olympic sponsor.
That’s great news. That means we won’t have to watch Phelps painfully try to convince us that he actually eats that heaping green mess that Subway wants to convince us is guacamole. Seriously, it looks like alien poop.