The Financial Life of an Olympic Athlete

Posted on 07/13/2012

It’s every little kid’s dream—being an Olympic athlete. But what does it cost to make that dream a reality? A lot of time and money according to experts. While the payoff is huge for a few athlete superstars, it’s a long road of hard work and financial commitment for most elite Olympians.

Training Costs According to Forbes magazine, raising an Olympic speed skater cost Beth Bedford, mother of Ryan Bedford, about $13,500 a year for coaching, travel, equipment and more. But there are far more expensive sports. Equestrian sports and shooting are the first and second most expensive sports where equipment and supply costs can easily exceed $3 million a year.

Scholarships are available for Olympic athletes to help cover the costs of training and travel. According to the program guidelines, around $19 million in scholarships were handed out to Olympians shooting to qualify for the London 2012 games.

Sponsorship Deals
Athletes weren’t allowed to do endorsements until the 1970s, but now it’s still reserved for a select few superstars that have the looks and a great story powerful enough to get advertisers’ attention. According to USA Today, while 530 US athletes will be competing in London, only a few will create serious cash flow from endorsement deals. For those that do make a name for themselves, the payout is between $100,000 to $500,000 according to sports marketing experts.

The Opening Ceremonies Uniform
Looking the part of an Olympian carries a hefty price tag. Polo Ralph Lauren designed the official United States Opening Ceremony uniform, an outfit that costs each athlete well over $1,000. The uniform includes $295 flat-front trousers, a $125 silk tie and a $165 pair of nubuck shoes.

Travel for Family Members
Olympic athletes have their travel expenses to London paid for, but their family members do not. That’s why several family members of Olympic athletes are making public pleas to help raise funds so that they can see their children compete in the games. Family members of Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors told reporters that they need between $8,000-$10,000 to cover flights and hotels. Breeja Larson’s family set up a public donation page to help offset costs of their travel to London. And Proctor and Gamble announced that they will help cover some travel costs to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for more than 800 moms of athletes.

By Alison Storm

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