An Olympic-Sized Income Gap Even Among Our World Class Athletes

By Imara Jones Aug 06, 2012

The division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent extends to the U.S. Olympic team. The United States sent 529 athletes to compete in 25 sports. The gaping income inequality seen in the wider society is stark even amongst this group carrying the nation’s pride in London. Sure, Gabby Douglas just garnered a multi-million dollar endorsement deal from Kellogg’s with her two gold medals. Millionaires populate the US Olympic Basketball Team. The seven-figure Williams sisters dominate Olympic tennis. And high-performing runners in track and field events might break six-figures. But for every Gabby, Lebron, and Serena, there are medal-winning Olympians in less well-known sports, like shot put and archery, who must work two and three jobs to represent the world’s richest country. Even [Gabby’s mom had to sell her jewelry]( and do without to keep her daughter in the running until fortunes could turn. NBC paid almost $2 billion to carry the games and the U.S. Olympic Committee budget is $170 million, but little of it flows to the actual competitors. Even top athletes in key events struggle. According to CNN’s Money, "only 50% of American track and field athletes who are ranked in the top ten … earn more than $15,000 a year in income from the sport." Many struggle to pay their bills.