Athletes' Financial Reality

Athletes' Financial Reality


Unlike athletes in many other countries, American Olympians receive no direct support from the federal government.


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Olympic athletes defy gravity and impress audiences around the world, but many struggle financially on the road to those Games. Some athletes in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics used online crowdfunding to pay for expenses while training for the Games or even to help get loved ones to South Korea. While there is a small group of athletes who get rich in the quest for Olympic glory, for others, there is a harsh reality.

Team USA luger Chris Mazdzer won a silver medal in individual men's luge this year, becoming the first American man to ever medal in the event. But it almost didn't happen. A couple of weeks ago, he thought he might have to get out of the sport.

"I wanted to stay and do it for another four years… but… the thought of staying in the sport without being able to make anything or to be able to give back, just to even pay rent, is – it's a really serious thing that people don't know exists," Mazdzer told CBS News' Dana Jacobson.

While he savors the victory, he remembers the struggle.

"I was a bartender. I worked at banquets, restaurants. So it's a fight to get to that level. But if you're as committed, you'll do everything," Mazdzer said.

Patrick Quinn, an agent representing several athletes at the Games, said there's a "huge" financial disparity among Olympic athletes.

"When you talk about an extreme of a Lindsey Vonn and a Shaun White, and the vast majority of the Olympians, it's a whole different world. It's the first class to coach for sure," Quinn said.

Unlike many other countries, the U.S. federal government does not fund Olympic programs. In 1978, Congress turned over the job of representing American athletes to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), a non-profit. The USOC reported $339 million in revenue in 2016, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes billions of dollars from broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals.


Athletes' Financial Reality

Unlike athletes in many other countries, American Olympians receive no direct support from the federal government.

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