Olympic athletes earn cash prizes based on countries

As the Summer Rio Olympics ends, a number of superstars have come out with more than a handful of medals: Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, and Usain Bolt to name a few. After years of rigorous training, endless sacrifices, and often multiple injuries, attending the Olympics is the measure of ultimate success; winning a medal is the icing on the cake. However, not all prizes are created equal.

Besides fame and an Olympic medallion, Olympic medalists can also win cash prizes from their country’s National Olympic Committee. In the United States, gold medalists will earn $25,000, silver medalists $15,000 and bronze medalists $10,000. The United States Olympic Committee gave out $1.8 million in cash prizes for the 105 medals won by American athletes.

However, these cash prizes are taxed by the United States government based on the athlete’s income bracket. Simone Biles, who won 4 gold and a bronze medal will have to pay $43,560 in taxes and Michael Phelps will have to pay up to $55,540.

So which country offers the most money for winning gold? Singaporean Joseph Schooling, who defeated Michael Phelps to win the gold in the 10 meter butterfly will receive one million Singaporean dollars (US$743,108), the largest prize money from any country. Indonesia offers $342,000 per gold medalist and both Azerbaijian and Kazakhstan also offer a whopping $250,000 for each gold medalists.

Prizes can extend past cash as well. In the past, Russia has offered luxury cars to Olympic medalists and in South Korea medalists can be exempt from compulsory military service. Germany offers a lifetime supply of beer and Belarus offers unlimited sausages.

However, if you are from Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, or Croatia, don’t expect any prizes at all. None of these countries offer cash bonuses for winning an Olympic medal.

So if you're looking to become an Olympic athlete and make big money, the country you compete for makes a big difference in what you could earn. Of course, Olympic athletes generally cannot choose what country they compete for so they have to take what they can get. Regardless of cash prize, medal-winning Olympic athletes are always held in high esteem in their home countries, and some would say respect is the ultimate prize.