American gold medalist Nathan Chen celebrates at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 10.
Sebastien Bozon | AFP | Getty Images
The 2022 Winter Olympics are well underway in Beijing and more than 200 medals have already been awarded to athletes around the world.
Finishing on the podium is a matter of national pride. For some winners, this also means winning a cash bonus and opening the doors to rare multi-million dollar referral opportunities.
The International Olympic Committee does not pay medal prizes, but many countries offer monetary rewards to their athletes for the number of medals they win at the Summer or Winter Olympics.
CNBC has compiled the chart below, based on information from various National Olympic Committees, sports associations and the personal finance site Money Under 30.
The data showed that the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee awards its athletes $37,500 for each gold medal won, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze. Most of this prize money is not taxable unless athletes declare gross income in excess of $1 million.
American athletes also receive other forms of support such as health insurance, access to top-notch medical facilities and tuition assistance.
The United States sent more than 200 athletes to compete in Beijing. The American team has so far bagged 7 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals.
At the 2021 Summer Games, American athletes won 39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze medals, racking up the most medals of any country in Tokyo.
How much do other countries pay?
Some countries and territories offer much higher monetary incentives for their athletes to finish on the podium. Experts say this is partly an attempt to develop national sports cultures.
Singapore, for example, rewards its gold medalists almost 20 times more than the United States
Players who earn their first individual gold medal for the city-state will receive 1 million Singapore dollars ($737,000). The prize money is taxable and the winners are required to donate part of it to their national sports associations for their future training and development.
Kazakhstan pays its athletes around $250,000 for a gold medal, Italy around $213,000, the Philippines around $200,000 while Malaysia also offers hefty rewards to its athletes. Hong Kong, which competes separately from China in the Olympics, last year offered HK$5 million ($641,000) to gold winners.
When Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won the country’s first gold medal in athletics in Tokyo last year, several politicians and corporate brands reportedly announced millions of rupees in monetary reward for the athlete.
Apart from medal bonuses, winners from these countries are also offered other compensation. For example, when Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the country’s first Olympic gold medal last year, she was reportedly offered two houses and free flights for life.
For starters, earning a spot on the Olympic team is no easy feat, and athletes spend most of their time training for the Games, making it difficult to maintain full-time employment.
In some sports, equipment, coaching and access to training sites can also drive up an athlete’s expenses.
While athletes from larger, more competitive countries receive stipends or training grants from their national sports associations, others work various jobs or turn to crowdsourcing to fund their Olympic dreams.
Top performers also collect cash prizes by winning national and international tournaments.
Is it difficult to be sponsored?
Only a handful of top athletes land multi-million dollar endorsements or sponsorship deals, either before competing in the Olympics or after achieving success at the Games.
Snowboarder Shaun White, for example, received his first board sponsorship at age 7, NBC Sports reported. After winning his first Olympic gold medal in 2006, snowboard manufacturing company Burton signed him to a 10-year deal and White pocketed around $10 million a year in sponsorships, according to NBC.
Last year, American swimmer Katie Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles received millions of endorsements ahead of the summer games, Forbes reported. Meanwhile, tennis star Naomi Osaka is said to have earned $55 million from endorsements in 12 months and was named the highest-paid female athlete of all time, according to reports.
But closing lucrative deals is rare and far from the norm.
Most Team USA athletes are not represented by sports agents and some have no sponsors or endorsements, according to a report by Forbes.
Disclosure: CNBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal, owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the US broadcast rights holder for all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.