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How Much Is a Gold Medal Worth?

How Much Is a Gold Medal Worth?

[ February 11, 2010 - 5:43pm ]
Shaun White gold
Not enough, apparently. The real money is in endorsements, and our skiers—and, ahem, snowboarders—have got 'em.

Forbes Magazine has put out a list of top-earning athletes competing in the 2010 Olympics. This is a little embarrassing to admit, but the Winter Olympic athlete with the biggest income isn't one of our own. No, that perk goes to, well, a snowboarder: With sponsorship deals from Burton, Red Bull and Oakley, among many others, Shaun White pulled down $7.5 million last year. Sitting beside White on the leader board is South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na, who also hit the $7.5 million mark with sponsorships from Hyundai, Nike and Samsung Electronics. Turns out most Olympic athletes don't make a whole lot of money from competition. Yu-Na made only a tiny chunk -- $150,000 -- of her multimillion-dollar total from a whole year's worth of competition. Next on the Top 10 sits our own Lindsey Vonn, but the drop from 1st to 3rd place is a doozy: Vonn made $2.5 million last year, a $5 million deficit. The prize money for ski racing, at least, beats figure skating: Vonn made $350,000 in prize money last year, and she'll likely make more this year after a better season. In 4th place is another skier, Ted Ligety; he made $2 million last year with help from sponsors Audi, Rossignol and his own company, goggle-maker Shred.

Read all our Olympic coverage