Winning an Olympic gold medal isn’t enough these days. Cashing in on that Olympic gold medal is the real art, but it has a lot to do with the country that you represent. The United States, winning more gold (46) and medals (104) than any other nation actually is only fourth on the pay list because of the different payouts handed out by each government.
Obviously, nations who make a much bigger deal of winning 2-3-4-5 gold medals in a single summer usually give their athletes a much bigger financial incentive to come through and finish first. One gold medal in a country like Georgia makes you a national hero to be remembered for a long time, unlike in the USA which expects their athletes to come back with dozens of gold medals.
In fact, a gold medal is worth over one million dollars to a Georgian athlete. One Georgian athlete, Lasha Shavdatuashvili, won gold in a judo event, while six more medals, 3 silver and 3 of bronze, came in the wrestling competitions. In the United States, a gold medal is only worth $25,000, although the chances for lucrative endorsements and sponsorship deals are a bit more easily reached.
Michael Phelps, despite getting only (around) $100,000 for his performance in the pool from the nation’s government will do just fine thanks to a few deals he has with other companies.