5 Top-Grossing Olympic Athletes

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The Olympic Games feature the top athletes in the world across many events. The 2012 Olympic Games feature around 300 events with competitors from over 200 nations. Sports in the Games include basketball, swimming, tennis, cycling, gymnastics and many others. One would assume those who make it to the Olympic Games are high-paid athletes as they're top contenders in their sports. The fact remains, training and competing is an athlete's full-time job but, the majority of athletes only receive small or no incomes at all. Athletes either receive income from playing in professional sports leagues or from sponsors. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) pays Olympic athletes zero dollars for competing in the games. National Olympic Committee's for each country generally do pay medal bonuses. For instance, the U.S. Olympic Committee pays $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze medals. When it comes to Olympic sports, very few athletes make big bucks. Research from the Track & Field Athletes Association found that roughly half of the athletes who ranked top 10 in the U.S. in their events made less than $15,000 a year from the sport. Very few are making millions. Those who do are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Check out a few of the top-grossing 2012 Olympic athletes.

Kobe Bryant



At age 33, the Philadelphia native will compete in his second Olympic games in 2012. He's looking to win another gold medal having won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to Forbes, Bryant is one of the top-paid athletes in the world with around a $25 million dollar annual salary from the Los Angeles Lakers and roughly $28 million from endorsements through brands like Nike, Smart Car, Panini and Turkish Airlines.

Roger Federer

Federer just won his seventh Wimbledon title, tying him for the record with seven titles. Federer is at the top of his game and as a result landed on the list of top-grossing Olympic athletes. At only 30 years old, Federer is a tennis veteran and tops the list for career prize money in tennis with approximately $71 million. He earns roughly $45 million a year through corporate sponsors. According to Forbes, he earns the second highest sponsorship income for athletes, trailing behind Tiger Woods. The London Olympic Games is Federer's fourth Olympic Games, and he took home the silver in men's singles this year. He also has a shot at winning a medal in men's doubles this year. He has ambitions to represent Switzerland in the 2016 Olympics as well.

Ryan Lochte

Lochte is a professional swimmer representing team USA. Teammate to Michael Phelps, the 27 year old is a 11-time Olympic champion and five-time gold medal winner. Pressure was on Lochte this year to top Michael Phelps who was looking to claim the top spot. Phelps took home four gold medals at this year's games to Lochte's two. Phelps will retire with the most Olympic career medals. With Phelps retired, Lochte will be sure to profit even more. Research from Fortune has estimated that Lochte will earn around $2.3 million mainly from sponsors with Speedo, Gatorade, Gillette and Nissan. He also receives income from "Lochte 180 Fitness" workout videos developed with his trainer.

Maria Sharapova

Sharapova has already made over $21 million in career prize money. The 25-year-old Russian tennis player made her first Olympic appearance in London. Sharapova was also chosen to be the first Russian female athlete to be the flag bearer at the Olympic opening ceremony. Sharapova has gained the likes of many large corporate sponsors. With brand names such as Samsung, Evian, Tag Heuer, Cole Hann and Nike, she is guaranteed to take in millions more yearly, even without any prize money. The Nike deal alone, signed in 2010, guaranteed her $70 million over eight years. At this year's Games, she has already taken home the silver in women's singles.

Usain Bolt

Twenty-five-year-old Jamaican runner Usain Bolt could not have a last name that suited him better. The world's fastest man was said to become the "best-paid athlete in track and field history" after signing a $8 million deal with Puma in 2010. That doesn't include the funds he gets paid for appearance fees and sponsorship deals. London is the third time Bolt has attended the Olympic Games. He didn't beat his current 9.69s record in the 100m event this year, but he still won the gold medal in this year's event.

Conclusion

Placing top in the Olympic Games has always been a measurement of success and global recognition for the athlete and represented country. Large financial rewards are seldom involved, but some countries still continue to offer massive incentives. Malaysia offers gold-medal winners a gold brick worth an estimated $600,000. The Canadian Olympic Committee also is offering an incentive for the first time for coaches, a mere $10,000 for gold, half of what Canadian athletes earn. Hitting the Olympic podium may not be like winning the lottery, but for those who can grab the attention from corporate sponsors the reward could be substantial.
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