The Surprising Way This Olympic Figure Skater Earned Money Before Winning Her Medal

Olympic athletes are a lot like the rest of us, at least before and after their impressive careers. Whether they’re trying to support their high training costs or figuring out what to do when it’s all over, they often have to find ways to earn a living that have nothing to do with the sports they love.

Some athletes are worth millions of dollars. Those who don’t medal often struggle to pay for their training in hopes their hard work eventually pays off. From cleaning up after hockey players to roasting coffee beans, these are the income streams Olympians have used before — and many use during — their training.

Mirai Nagasu worked for the NHL

Mirai Nagasu of the US performs in free skating program

Mirai Nagasu was the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. | Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

In 2018, Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel while competing at the Olympics. Before heading off to Pyeongchang, she worked as an ice girl for the Colorado Avalanche hockey team for a season. Once responsible for cleaning the ice and representing the team as an ambassador, she’s now a medal-winning ice champion.

Next: Some Olympians train when they aren’t at their day jobs.

Nina Roth is a registered nurse

Curler Nina Roth poses for a portrait

Curler Nina Roth is also a registered nurse. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

On top of preparing to represent her country as part of the United States Curling Team at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Nina Roth balanced a day job.

Since this is her first time competing at the Olympics, she doesn’t have any sponsorships or endorsement deals to support her financially. She kept her job as a nurse in Madison, Wisconsin, while refining her curling skills.

Next: Winning has its perks — especially when it comes to advertising.

Michael Phelps is the king of endorsement deals

Michael Phelps kisses his gold medal

Michael Phelps is worth around $55 million. | Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Endorsements are a big deal for athletes. The more they win, the more chances they have to earn sponsorships.

Michael Phelps has won more medals than any other athlete in history. His estimated net worth hovers somewhere around $55 million, and a huge chunk of that comes from endorsements and sponsorships. He likely earned $12 million a year after the 2012 games.

Next: Here’s how much medaling at the Olympics literally pays off.

These athletes really do get paid to win

Shaun White poses on the podium

Snowboarder Shaun White is one of the wealthiest Olympic athletes. | Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

The highest-paid Olympic athletes are the ones who win big. American Olympians get $25,000 for every gold medal, $15,000 for every silver, and $10,000 for each bronze. Winning multiple medals still might not offset training costs, though.

Since athletes don’t earn all that much on a medal-by-medal basis, there’s more pressure to win more than one. Thankfully, there are other ways to earn if you win small — or not at all.

Next: When all else fails, there’s always eBay.

Some Olympians sell their medals for extra cash

Olympic Medal

Some athletes have sold their medals. | Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Selling a bronze, silver, or even a gold medal on eBay isn’t unheard of.  Anthony Ervin won his gold medal in 2000, and sold it in 2004. He didn’t keep the money for himself, though. He donated it to victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

How much are Olympic medals really worth? Maybe not as much as you’re expecting — but maybe a lot more. A medal can sell for as low as $5,000, but an athlete might be able to make a lot more depending on how many they have to offer.

Next: When they aren’t competing, they’re hustling.

Other athletes take pride in their side hustles

Joey Mantia reacts after winning the Men's 1500m competition

Speed skater Joey Mantia also owns a coffee shop. | Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images

It’s nice to have something to keep you occupied when you’re not on the ice or snow. Speed skater Joey Mantia is a world champion and Olympic athlete. He also owns a coffee shop based in Salt Lake City, where he lives.

Snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov spends his free time taking photographs — and he’s pretty good at it!

Next: Training at this level isn’t cheap.

It costs a lot to be an Olympian

An athlete practices during a training session

Training for Olympic competition is expensive. | Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

How much do athletes get paid to compete in the Olympic Games? It depends on how well they perform. Many athletes pay more in training costs than they earn — which is why so many still need “real” jobs.

Figure skaters, for example, might spend up to $50,000 or more on private coaching and the custom-made costumes they’re required to wear while performing. A new pair of skates, these athletes’ most important asset, can cost up to $1,500.

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