Being an Olympian is expensive, and the US is one of only a few countries that stays out of funding its team.
Sure, the most accomplished and popular athletes like Sean White and Eileen Gu (who’s representing China) can make millions from endorsements and sponsorships. Others can get by on modest salaries from professional sports careers.
Some also collect stipends and prize money — the US pays medalists $37,500, $22,500, and $15,000 for gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.
And many are so young that fully supporting themselves isn’t yet top of mind.
But American athletes don’t get paid to go the Olympics, and athletes can need $100,000 annually just to sustain their sporting careers — travel, equipment, coaching, recovery therapies, and nutritious foods aren’t cheap. Some just want something to do on the off-season.
Here’s how five Americans who competed in Beijing make a living, whether out of necessity or passion.