These Olympic Athletes Are Way Richer Than You Might Think
If you know your stuff, you probably know that Olympic athletes may struggle to make much money. Many Olympians have to pay their own way when it comes to training, equipment and sometimes even travel arrangements to the Games themselves.
But there are always exceptions, and these Olympic athletes, for various reasons, have done quite well for themselves. You’ll probably recognize many of the names on this list, as they've parlayed Olympic success into lasting fame and financial reward.
Roger Federer is considered one of the best tennis players of all time — there’s not much debate over that. And he’s racked up plenty of additional income due to his success, including sponsorships with Wilson, Rolex, Credit Suisse and other brands. When sponsors want a piece of you and you’re highly successful on the court, the dough’s going to roll in.
LeBron James and Michael Jordan are neck-and-neck when it comes to debating the most important basketball players of our time, and both of these greats expanded their already-immense global profiles by playing on the U.S. Olympic Team. James has played on two gold medal-winning Olympic squads, helping to restore U.S. basketball’s image on 2008's "Redeem Team."
The man who goes by one name, Shaq, has become an international superstar on a level that few other athletes have been able to achieve. As one of the hosts of Emmy-winning NBA on TNT, a 15-time All-Star and a sure-fire NBA Hall of Famer, Shaq has taken care of his business with respect to basketball.
Did you know that Cristiano Ronaldo, five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or trophy for being the best soccer player in the world in a given year, was also an Olympian for his home nation of Portugal once upon a time?
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Before he was fighting Conor McGregor, netting hundreds of millions of dollars per fight, and before he was thought to have a net worth between the $560-million and $1-billion range, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was an up-and-coming scrapper whose greatest achievement was competing at the 1996 Olympic Games.
Magic Johnson stepped down as President of the Los Angeles Lakers towards the end of 2019’s NBA season, and there was rampant speculation as to why. How about because he already has NBA championships to spare, and an Olympic gold medal?
The Winklevoss Twins, Cameron & Tyler
Most people hear the name "Winklevoss" and may not immediately recognize where they'd heard it before. The most common answer is the movie The Social Network, where the twins played a prominent role inventing a social network that was a precursor to Facebook. They’ve come a long way since that pitstop in their respective life stories.
Ion Tiriac, a name that younger generations may not recognize, took the idea of a financially successful Olympian to a whole new level. Tiriac rose to international recognition when he appeared for the Romanian ice hockey team at the 1964 Winter Olympics, though the team did not earn a medal.
Surely you've never heard of this guy, right? He's a somewhat anonymous former athlete who has made a mark selling some brand of shoe… Right?
Shaun White almost single-handedly put snowboarding on the pop culture map, and he remains easily the most recognizable snowboarder in the world. His pearly whites and trademark red mane certainly help his Q-factor, but the three gold Olympic medals (along with 13 gold medals he has claimed at various Winter X Games) are also responsible for much of his notoriety.
As Bruce Jenner, the woman we know now as Caitlyn Jenner won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games for the decathlon, considered one of the most difficult athletic feats that a person can complete. She parlayed that success into relatively minor celebrity, which became major celebrity once she married into the Kardashian clan.
Kobe Bryant played in the Olympics twice, first in 2008 and then again in 2012. He brought his trademark Mamba Mentality to each team, as they took home the gold both times that he played for Team USA. As you may have suspected, Bryant has also done quite well for himself financially.
Michael Phelps is one of the most well-known Olympians of his time, with an absurd 23 Olympic gold medals to his name — plus three silvers and a couple bronze medals to boot. He is, quite simply, one of the most dominant Olympic athletes ever, and arguably the best Olympic swimmer of our time.
Usain Bolt earned three gold medals per Olympic Games for three consecutive Olympics, displaying dominance and longevity that’s rare — especially when you consider that he was competing against the fastest sprinters in the world. The Jamaican dynamo still holds the world record for the 100-meter dash, which he set in 2009.
Say what you will about Lance Armstrong — and a lot has been said. The man has made lots of money in his career. And while Armstrong remains a controversial figure, there’s no doubting his talent and determination. Plus, he did win a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Once an Olympian, always an Olympian.
Serena Williams has become so successful as a professional tennis player that many casual sports fans have completely forgotten that she’s the owner of four Olympic gold medals. She took home the gold in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016, accolades that pair nicely with 23 Grand Slam Singles titles.
If you don't know, Novak Djokovic is part of the modern "Big Three" in men's tennis, which is completed by his frequent sparring partners Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Big Three all get paid well — so well that Novak currently boasts (not that he would boast) an estimated net worth of $200 million.
Carmelo Anthony is known by many sports fans as a great scorer who never won a ring, but he certainly maximized his time as an Olympian. The man known as "Melo" has three gold medals (and one bronze, but we don't have to mention that).
Yao Ming is a guy you can't miss walking down the street. He's also somebody you can’t miss when counting down the list of wealthiest Olympians ever, as he has an estimated net worth of $120 million.
Carl Lewis was a sprinting icon back in the day, and he was also known as one of the more marketable Olympians of his time. Winning nine gold medals certainly didn't hurt his case with corporate sponsors, nor did his million-watt smile.
Like her sister Serena, Venus Williams has split time being highly successful on the professional tennis circuit and for her country at the Olympic Games. She didn't just do the one-time performance to say she was an Olympian, either, as she competed in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Mark Spitz is kind of like the Babe Ruth of Olympic swimming, as he called the fact that he would sweep the swimming events at the 1972 Olympics. That gave him seven gold medals at a single Olympic Games, more than any Olympic athlete had taken home at a single Olympics.
Saina Nehwal is somebody whom most Americans probably haven’t heard of, but virtually all Indians have. She’s a badminton player who has won 16 medals at the badminton equivalent of the Olympics, including three gold, four silver and nine bronze.
In an age where cycling has been tainted by proven and unproven allegations of performance-enhancing drug use, Chris Froome is seen by many as the latest hopeful for a clean hero. The Brit currently holds two bronze medals for his Olympic efforts on behalf of his home nation.
For all you youngsters, Greg LeMond is one of the icons of cycling, especially for the American audience. He competed in a time when it was known that many of his greatest rivals were likely doping, but it was difficult to prove. Yet, LeMond found a way to win time and time again.
Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish tennis player who has been quite successful as a professional, winning a coveted Grand Slam on her way to once being ranked as the best female tennis player in the world. She’s also something of a model who has proven herself to be an attractive personality for sponsors.
Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon is an iconic big man in the annals of basketball history. He’s originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but became such an American icon through his playing in the NBA that he was granted a waiver to play for Team USA in the 1996 Olympic Games.
Kevin Garnett is one of the most ferocious players to ever step foot on a professional basketball court, and he garnered significant career earnings due to his tenacity and skill. He won the NBA championship in 2008 as a member of the Boston Celtics.
There are so many wealthy NBA players that have also played for Team USA that we could, in theory, fill this entire list with ballers. But we’re only picking those who are extraordinarily wealthy and talented, and so Tim Duncan deserves to make the cut. Duncan is a Hall of Famer and winner of five NBA championships.
Alan Pascoe is an English sprinter who won silver as part of the British 400-meter relay team at the notorious 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. He was a top-notch runner who earned hardware for his speed, but it’s his second professional wind that has contributed most to his estimated $30-million net worth.