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.
As a former Olympian for his home nation of Sweden, and considering his estimated net worth of around $450 million, Federer easily clears the hurdle of wealthiest Olympians on the planet.
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."
If you hadn't heard, James has also done quite well for himself with his NBA career and several lucrative endorsements. This has made him one of the richest Olympians ever, with an estimated net worth of around $450 million.
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.
Shaq also happens to be a former member of Team USA, appearing in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. That team won gold, adding to Shaq's championship resume. His high-profile achievements have helped Shaq build an impressive net worth of roughly $400 million to date.
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?
It's true. Ronaldo appeared in the 2004 Olympics as a young buck, far before the stardom he has obtained today. That team didn’t earn a medal, but the experience was a primer for Ronaldo's future appearances in World Cups. And, with an estimated net worth of $450 million, Ronaldo is easily one of the wealthiest Olympians on the planet.
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.
In those Games, Mayweather left with a bronze medal. It was impressive for the 19 year old, but it was hardly a harbinger of his massive success to come. Mayweather is 50-0 in his professional career, and with that kind of dominance, some may have expected him to come home with gold — but he didn't.
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?
Once you're part of the Dream Team, which took home the gold at the 1992 Games, and you've established a business empire that includes over 100 Starbucks franchises, we’d imagine running the Lakers looks a bit more tedious than it would to most. He doesn't need the money — his net worth is $600 million.
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.
They’ve also become extremely successful investors with an estimated combined net worth of $654 million as of the beginning of 2019. Oh yeah — they also competed as rowers for Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Just when you were beginning to think that you were well-rounded...
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.
Tiriac wasn’t done making his mark as an internationally recognized persona, as his second act in business is arguably far more impressive than his run as an athlete. He owns Tiriac Holdings, a varied business empire that’s responsible for his net worth, which is reportedly over a billion bucks.
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?
In all seriousness, Michael Jordan blazed a trail as arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and has perhaps even topped that feat as the creator of Air Jordan brand sneakers and apparel. For all of his accomplishments and business achievements, MJ has a reported net worth of $1.9 billion. Not too shabby for a humble kid from North Carolina.
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.
He’s parlayed that success into various endorsements and has even launched a video game series with his name on it. All of this great success has added up to a net worth estimated somewhere between $20 million and $40 million.
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.
Since that marriage, she’s grown her empire, and the transition to Caitlyn hasn't hurt her pocketbook, either. Jenner is estimated to be worth somewhere in the $100-million range and shows no signs of slowing down financially. Turns out Caitlyn’s just as entertaining on TV as she was adept at track and field events.
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.
As a five-time NBA champion, creator of many a successful shoe and party to countless endorsements in the United States, China and other international basketball hotspots, Kobe has netted roughly $500 million to his name to date. And he continues to pursue creative outlets to earn even more.
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.
Phelps has also had a few missteps and struggles personally, but he has been shrewd when it comes to marketing. The result: an estimated $60 million in the bank. While this doesn't place him amongst the elite on this list, it’s still more than enough to retire on.
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.
It turns out that being synonymous with speed pays, especially when you capitalize on your good name in the way that Bolt has. Endorsements with the likes of Hublot, Virgin Media and other brands have contributed to an estimated net worth of $90 million. It pays to be fast.
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.
While Armstrong did give his medal back, we’re still going to include him on this list. Because, quite frankly, the man has invested his butt off, getting in early on Uber, among other companies. Lance's net worth? Around $50 million.
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.
And how has all of this unprecedented success translated into financial success? Well, it has parlayed pretty well, to put it simply. Serena's net worth is estimated to be $180 million. As one of the faces of JPMorgan Chase, Nike, Intel and many other corporate sponsors, Serena has padded her tennis-derived income nicely.
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.
On top of this nine-figure net worth, Djokovic — a proud Serbian — showed up for his nation in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games. This combination of a fat bankroll and Olympic participation puts Novak in a rare club: the richest Olympians to ever walk the planet.
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).
Who needs rings when you have medals? Not only is Anthony one of the true patriots of basketball, but he’s also one of the wealthiest former Olympians alive. With an estimated net worth of $120 million, the man certainly won't need to sell his medals for pocket change any time soon.
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.
Ming earned much of that money playing in the NBA, but he’s revered in China, especially after he played for his home country in the Olympics in both 2000 and 2004. The endorsement money from China has certainly not been insignificant.
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.
Carl Lewis is one of the only athletes to win a gold medal in the same event in four consecutive Olympics. That's a big deal that has helped net Lewis big money. His net worth is estimated to be $20 million, which is a whole lot considering the time period and the sport in which he has competed.
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.
Those performances have netted her an impressive total of four gold medals and a silver. She's not been shabby as a pro tennis player either, winning seven Grand Slam titles. And she’s not done yet. She's also a fashionista, and this success has created a net worth of $95 million.
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.
He was particularly iconic in the Jewish community, and he’s a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. His success combined with trademark good looks translated into financial prosperity, as Spitz is thought to have a net worth of roughly $20 million.
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.
Badminton is very popular in India, and Nehwal has also become one of the most lucratively endorsed athletes in a massive market. Between her success on the badminton court and her easy marketability off of it, Saina Nehwal is thought to have a net worth of roughly $3 million, impressive considering she's virtually unknown in the U.S.
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.
That may not seem overwhelming, but cycling is a team sport, and Froome is a certifiable star. He makes an estimated salary of nearly $4 million per year and has an estimated net worth somewhere around $14 million. You should also know that the man is far from finished.
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.
LeMond won the Tour de France, the cycling equivalent of the Olympics, and has even won a Congressional Gold Medal. He arguably has done even better in his second professional career as an entrepreneur, which has played a large part in his estimated net worth of $40 million.
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.
Wozniacki also happened to compete in the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012 for her home country, though she never medaled. Between her tennis-derived winnings and corporate sponsorships, Woz has accumulated a net worth estimated to be around $30 million.
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.
Though the 1992 squad was considered the Dream Team, the 1996 squad was nearly as impressive, with Hakeem serving as an unstoppable force helping Team USA to a gold medal. Olajuwon's net worth is thought to be in the $200-million range, much of which has likely come from his role as an entrepreneur.
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.
His NBA success also created an opportunity for Garnett as a member of Team USA. Garnett was a member of the gold medal-winning 2000 Olympic team, and he went on to sign many lucrative contracts and endorsement deals. His estimated net worth of $120 million makes him wealthy by both NBA and Olympic-athlete standards.
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.
He’s also a member of the somewhat-notorious 2004 Team USA that took home the bronze medal, considered a less-than-laudable feat for the typically loaded NBA roster. But Duncan is a (wealthy) Olympian nevertheless, with a net worth of $130 million.
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.
He has made much of his fortune as a shrewd businessman, with part of his repertoire including ventures aimed directly at improving the performance of athletes like himself. Pascoe is also known as a prolific philanthropist, further upping his standing.