U.S. ranks ninth on list of countries paying out bonuses for gold medals

Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Balandin will earn $230,000 for winning Olympic gold. (Getty Images)
Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Balandin will earn $230,000 for winning Olympic gold. (Getty Images)

 

America is the richest country in the world, but the nation’s Olympians may not be so prosperous. (Well, except for those USA Basketball stars making eight-figure salaries at their NBA day jobs.)

U.S. Olympic athletes will receive a $25,000 bonus for capturing gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics ($15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze) — before taxes, of course — a payout that ranks just ninth among nations offering a financial incentive to competitors in Rio, per Fox Sports Australia.

Singapore leads the way, offering three-quarters of a million U.S. dollars to gold-medal winners, followed by Indonesia ($383,000), Azerbaijan ($255,000), Kazakhstan ($230,000) and Italy ($185,000).

Infographic: Some Athletes Are Chasing Huge Gold Medal Bonuses | Statista
Infographic: Some Athletes Are Chasing Huge Gold Medal Bonuses | Statista

According to Fox Sports Australia, Croatia, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden are among nations that pay no financial incentive for winning gold, while other countries offer alternative bait — like military exemptions (South Korea), a lifetime supply of beer (Germany) and unlimited sausages (Belarus). So, the four German gold medalists in Rio so far can wash down their $20,000 bonuses with a metric ton of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbiers while making friends with potential Belarusian sausage kings.

Granted, the U.S. will likely dole out more bonuses than any other country, considering the Stars and Stripes lead the medal count with 32 (11 golds) — a total of $540,000 in payouts thus far. Likewise, individual sports federations can sweeten the pot, as USA Wrestling does with a $250,000 bonus for gold medalists, there are plenty of endorsement opportunities in America, and Olympians can always sell their $564 gold medals at a markup on eBay. But it sure seems like the U.S. should be higher than ninth on this list. (Cue Donald Trump promising a gold toilet in every U.S. Olympian’s bathroom.)

[Related: Olympic champions will owe taxes on their medals, bonuses]

Conversely, no athlete from Singapore has ever won a gold medal, but the two Kazakhs who have captured gold in Rio will take home almost as much ($460,000) as all U.S. medalists combined so far.

“A cash bonus for a medal is great and always appreciated by athletes, but it’s not the sole focus, rather a nice way to be acknowledged for the efforts you have put into your chosen discipline,” former Australian Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill told Fox Sports Australia. “Let’s be honest, if you have decided to commit your life to an Olympic event other than basketball, tennis and golf, then you fully understand that this comes at a massive financial cost — not only to you as an athlete, but to your family as well, as they are often the ones assisting you to be the best you can be and do what you love doing most.”

American bonuses come from the privately funded United States Olympic Committee, which generates revenue primarily through broadcast and sponsorship deals, so take any issues you may have up with them. Or just become a naturalized citizen in Qatar and play handball for oil money.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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