Olympic Medals Tax Bill

How much is an Olympic gold medal from Beijing, China worth? The gold medals aren’t pure gold (if they were, they would be worth close to $31,800 each), but they are worth approximately $800 in metal content. Each Beijing gold medal contains 550 grams of silver with an additional 6 grams of gold. The Beijing silver medals weigh in with 550 grams of silver and a melt value of just under $450. The Beijing bronze medals are created out of copper with a zinc and tin mix, and they have a melt value of just over $5. While the value of the metal in the medals might not be worth nearly as much as you might expect, each medal won comes with a cash bonus for U.S. athletes. How much do Olympic athletes earn for medals and how expensive is the tax bill?

How Much Are U.S. Athletes Paid If They Win a Medal?

When a U.S. athlete wins a gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympic games, the U.S. Olympic Commission gives a cash reward to go along with the medal. Medalists receive a $37,500 bonus for a gold medal, a $22,500 bonus for a silver medal, and a $15,000 bonus for a bronze medal.

While this may seem like a nice bonus, it doesn’t come close to what some other countries pay. A gold medal in Singapore is worth a $740,000 bonus (as converted to U.S. currency equivalent), and an Italian gold medalist will get more than $213,000.

Do Olympians Have to Pay Taxes on Their Cash Reward?

Before 2016, athletes who won a gold, silver, or bronze medal would have to pay Uncle Sam a portion of their winnings. However, in 2016, the United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act was passed. This Act exempts athletes from paying taxes on their medal bonus and the value of the medal itself.

However, athletes that make over one million a year, such as Shaun White, are excluded from the United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act and must pay taxes on their medal bonus and value of the medal. In addition, the Act is only applicable to the Olympics and Paralympics. Athletes must still pay taxes on prize winnings they collect at other competitions.

Are Olympic Expenses Paid?

The U.S. Olympic Committee pays for each competing United States’ athlete’s food, lodging, and transportation, so that’s one less expense an athlete has to worry about.

How Do Winning Olympians Make Money?

winter Olympic gold silver and bronze medals

Of course, medal-winning athletes don’t only make money from the cash bonus they receive for their Olympic performance. When they return home, they can make quite a lucrative career from endorsements and advertisements. For instance, Shawn White has multi-million-dollar endorsement contracts with Burton, Kraft, and Red Bull, which help him rake in $10 million per year.

Athletes also sometimes choose to sell their medals. Depending on the athlete and when the medal is sold, these medals can sell for astronomical amounts. In 2013, Jesse Owens’ 1936 gold medal sold for a cool $1.47 million!

Final Thoughts

Olympic athletes put in years of practice to reach the pinnacle of their careers—competing in the Olympics. Luckily, they no longer have to pay an Olympic medals tax bill. In addition, a few lucky winning athletes can score lucrative deals to help them create a secure financial future.

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