The country that offers the biggest reward for an Olympic gold medal is Singapore. Any Singaporean who is able to win gold will be $800,000 richer. This, however, won’t happen in Sochi because there are no Singaporeans competing in the 2014 winter Olympic games. Malaysia offers a gold bar worth $600,000 for a gold medal, but like Singapore, doesn’t have any athletes competing in the Sochi winter games.
The country offering the biggest bonus for an Olympic medal in Sochi is Azerbaijan which will pay any athlete who wins a gold medal more than half a million dollars ($510,000). A silver medal is worth just over a quarter million dollars ($255,000) while a bronze medal would receive a $130,000 bonus. While these numbers are huge, the chances are that Azerbaijan won’t have to pay any of the bonus cash out. No athlete won an Olympic gold in the previous Vancouver winter games. This year, the country has only four athletes competing in the games, and none of them are expected to win a medal.
The next highest payout comes from Kazakhstan which actually did have a medal winner in the Vancouver games. Their athletes will receive a quarter of a million dollars for a gold medal, $150,000 for a silver medal and $75,000 for a bronze medal. In fact, athletes from Kazakhstan who don’t even medal have a chance to win a cash reward. Any athlete who finishes fourth, fifth or sixth will also get a $75,000 cash bonus.
There are plenty of other countries that offer six figures to there athletes for being on top of the podium. Latvia offers $192,000 for a gold medal with Italy right behind offering $191,000.
There are two countries that tie for fifth when it comes to payouts to their athletes for winning Sochi Olympic medals. Belarus and Ukraine both will shell out $150,000 for a gold, $75,000 for a silver and $50,000 for a bronze during the games. Ukraine failed to win any medals in the last Olympic games, but the athletes from Belarus came away with three.
The country which pays the seventh highest amount is Australia which gives $126,000 to Aussie athletes winning gold. It’s followed by the host country with Russian athletes gaining $113,000 for a gold medal, $71,000 for a silver medal and $42,000 for a bronze medal. Russia won fifteen different medals in Vancouver, including three golds. Russia is expected to win even more as the host country this year.
By comparison, the US bonuses seem downright stingy. A gold medal for a US athlete will mean a $25,000 bonus, while a silver will bring in $15,000 and a bronze will net $10,000. Unlike many other countries, the US taxes these bonuses which can mean that as much as 39.6% will end up going back to the IRS.
All the above athletes fair better than those from Croatia, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden which don’t give out any type of bonus to any athletes who win medals in the Sochi games.
Of course, the cash bonuses can be only a small fraction of the actual worth of an Olympic medal won, especially a gold medal. Gold (as well as silver and bronze) can often mean lucrative endorsement and advertising deals that can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. Much of this depends on the country and in what event the medal comes, but it’s often these deals that bring the most money from winning an Olympic medal.