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VERIFY: US Olympic athletes don't get a salary, but they can win money for medals

Unless the Olympic team has a sponsor, U.S. athletes aren't getting a salary. There are perks. But the real money comes from winning medals.

WASHINGTON — Almost as quickly as they began, the Tokyo Games end this weekend. Team USA is set to bring home a huge haul of medals.

But, beyond the pride and competition: What do the athletes get paid? 

Turns out American Olympians do get a paycheck for each medal they win, but outside of that, most of Team USA’s athletes are on their own.

THE QUESTION

Do US Olympic Athletes get a salary?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Team USA athletes do not get a salary unless their team has a sponsor that will pay them.

WHAT WE FOUND

“On the whole, most of the athletes are not salaried, “Dr. Baghurst said. “They don't get paid to go to the Olympics. They'll have their travel covered, lodging covered, and food covered.”

According to our expert, some U.S. teams that have sponsors may have a salary. However, that means most U.S. Olympians themselves don’t get paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“Outside of the major sports, and those athletes that have high profiles, a lot of these athletes really struggle financially,” Dr. Baghurst said. “A lot of them have part-time drop jobs and it's only in the Olympics where we really, really see them shine.”

But, if they do well at the games the athletes can make some serious money. The United States pays a handsome fee per medal: $37,500 for each gold medal, $22,500 for each silver medal, and $15,000 for each bronze medal.

As long as the athlete’s other earnings don’t exceed $1 million, the medal winnings are not taxable.

But, no, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee doesn’t pay the Olympians a salary.

They can make money from teams that are sponsored, endorsements, or medal winnings.

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