Simone Biles: Why Isn’t She Earning Money from USA Gymnastics?

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach, the world watches with bated breath to see if Simone Biles, one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, will bring home the gold.

All the buzz around Biles, who withdrew from five event finals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics suffering from the “twisties” (a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose track of their position while midair), has sparked curiosity about the financial aspects of Biles’ career, particularly why she isn’t earning money directly from USA Gymnastics.

Photo Via Instagram @simonebiles

Trials and Tribulations

Biles secured the top spot at the 2024 Olympic Trials with a final score of 117.225. Biles’ leading score of 58.900 on June 26 guaranteed her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Despite her accomplishments, athletes like Biles do not get paid to participate in the sport on an amateur level. Athletes compete without salaries. However, winning medals does bring prize money. For instance, U.S. athletes can earn over $37,000 for a gold medal, but this is not guaranteed income.

How Does Simone Biles Earn Money?

Biles’ primary income source is sponsorships. With major sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, Gap, General Mills, Forbes reported. She also has side business ventures, including companies that sell leotards. She has a net worth of $7 million, according to the outlet. She had earned $100,000 in competitions, Forbes reported in 2023.

The Reality of Olympic Compensation

The financial structure of the Olympics is rooted in values-based ethics, as emphasized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC’s commitment to maintaining the spirit of global competition means that they do not adopt a for-profit model that pays athletes salaries. Instead, athletes are compensated through their respective national Olympic committees. For example, while Singapore offers substantial monetary awards to its medalists, U.S. athletes receive more modest amounts but enjoy other perks like tax relief and education funding, according to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee website.

A 2021 report by the CNBC found that for the Tokyo Olympics, Singapore awarded gold-medal-winning athletes a whooping $737,000, while United States gave winners $37,000. The medals themselves aren’t worth much — the 2022 Olympic medals were made with over $700 worth of silver and gold, The New York Times reported.

The Broader Picture

While Olympic athletes may not receive direct compensation for competing, the visibility and prestige of the Olympics offer significant opportunities for earning through other avenues.

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