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How do Olympic athletes make a living?

 Most of us marvel at the physical condition of professional athletes, although it’s easy to understand the level of commitment when you see the massive contracts that they sign. It can be argued that Olympic athletes are in the same type of shape as the pros, yet they seem to do that with not reward for their hard work other than the possibility of picking up a medal or two. These athletes have to keep in shape year round and attend track meets in order to even qualify for the Olympics every 4 years. This is a full-time commitment that does not pay the bills, so how do they make the money required to live?

Before we get to where the money comes from, it’s worth noting that Olympic athletes were not allowed to accept money of any kind until the 1970’s. That basically meant that they had to work and pay their own way in order to train and stay in shape. That was something that took a toll on the athletes, and which really needed to be changed. Once it was, it became easier for Olympians to focus on their sport without having to worry about how they were going to eat.

Nowadays, athletes are sponsored in a variety of different ways. Many are sponsored by wealthy individuals, while others receive corporate funding. The latter group will often work for the company that sponsors them, earning a living wage as well as having all of their training related bills paid for. This is certainly not a way to get wealthy, though, as that is something that is reserved for only the most successful athletes. Those would be the ones that rack up the medals over a number of different Olympics.

You look at Olympic athletes likes Michael Phelps or Shaun White and you see people who have parlayed their athletic accomplishments into real wealth. These guys, and others like them, end up signing rich endorsement deals with a number of different big name companies. They may not have the name recognition of most of the bigger pros, but the fact is that they usually have a better image than football or baseball players. Much of that goes back to the perception that Olympic athletes are in it for the love of the sport as opposed to making as much money as humanly possible.

What you may be surprised to learn is just how much it costs to look after an Olympic athlete. Not only do they need to maintain a healthy diet and have good living conditions, they also need to be transported to every corner of the globe. As mentioned earlier, track meets take place throughout the course of the year, with many of the bigger events taking place in Europe and other parts of the world. That is an expense that can really start to get up there in terms of cost, but is also one that many individuals and businesses view as a sound investment.