Michelle Kwan is still one of the most decorated figure skaters in history, with consecutive wins at several Olympics. She took up ice skating at the age of 5, and two years later, she won her first-ever competition. Kwan was one of the highest-paid female athletes in the early 2000s. A major chunk of those earnings came from commercial contracts after winning the U.S. and World Championships in 1996. In 2002, the Olympic silver and bronze medalist earned an estimated $2 million in endorsements from brands like Chevrolet, Yoplait, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonald’s. After retiring, Kwan went back to studying and graduated from Tufts University in 2011. Kwan’s keen interest in politics led her to work as an outreach coordinator for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential run as well as Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. Among other wealthy Olympic athletes, As of 2021, Michelle Kwan’s net worth is $12 million.
“I love winning more than I love playing badminton. Winning is everything.” These were words spoken by badminton superstar Saina Nehwal, who won the BWF World Junior Championships in 2008 and secured a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. An exemplary level of performance at these prestigious events helped Nehwal earn recognition from fans, critics, even her peers. In fact, the shuttler was also the first Indian woman to internationally rank No. 1 and win a BWF Super Series title. That’s when the endorsement deals started pouring in. In 2002, Yonex offered to sponsor her sports kit, and in 2016, she agreed to a personal endorsement deal with Huawei. In the same year, a series of tournaments made Nehwal the third-highest-earning female badminton player in the world. In 2021, taking into account all of the endorsements, career earnings, and personal investments, Saina’s net worth is an estimated $5 million.
Usain Bolt might be the fastest runner out there where track and field records go, but a few others are not too far behind. Bolt’s fellow Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell has also consistently broken the 10-second barrier. Powell also secured the gold medal in the 4 x 100 meters relay at the Rio Olympics in 2016. He was also broke the 100m world records on June 2005 and May 2008, with speeds clocked at 9.77 and 9.74, respectively. The blazing-fast sprinter has also managed to record a personal best of 9.72 seconds at the Athletissima Grand Prix in Lausanne in 2008, which made it the fourth-fastest time in 100m history. In 2021, Asafa Powell’s net worth was estimated to be $6.5 million. These earnings stem from bonuses for breaking records and annual salaries. An endorsement with Puma in 2015 was also one of Powell’s biggest deals.
Even with all the training in the world, one can only dream of being as good as Mary Lou Retton. Born in 1968 in Fairmont, West Virginia, the artistic gymnast started at a very young age and idolized Nadia Comaneci. After making her debut in the American national Team, in 1984, she won five medals at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. These wins also made her the first American to win an independent gold medal in gymnastics. Retton chose to retire from athletics in 1985, but her Olympic achievements paved the way for other opportunities. In the 90s, Retton represented pharmacy chain Revco and pain relief cream brand Australian Dream, she even appeared on a Wheaties box. In 2007, she struck a lucrative deal with General Nutrition Centers Inc. In 2021, Mary Lou Retton’s sporting accomplishments coupled with endorsements helped her reach a net worth of about $8 million.
Alina Kabaeva was born in Tashkent in May 1983 and was one of the most successful rhythmic gymnasts to ever come from Russia. She has won 14 World Championship medals and 25 European championship medals, including All-Around events where she won the bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Kabaeva had also served as a member of the Public Chamber of Russia for two years, followed by an election to the State Duma deputy for the United Russia party from 2007 to 2014. But this wasn’t the only source of her income. In 2014, Kabaeva became the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the National Media Group. as the chairwoman of the board of directors for the National Media Group. Based on the salary paid by the media group and other assets, Kabaeva’s net worth is estimated to be at $10 million.
Alain Bernard started to build his career as a promising relay swimmer. His past accomplishments include one gold and two silvers for the 4x50m freestyle events at the European Short Course Championships of 2004, 2005, and 2006. But the swimmer gained popularity at the 2008 European Championships when he won two gold medals and set records for the 50m and 100m freestyle events. After these wins, Bernard represented France at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. After retiring Bernard took on the mantle as an Officer of the French National Order of Merit, followed by an Ambassador for UNICEF in Africa. He has also served as an ambassador and technical advisor for the brand AquaShare. In 2020, Bernard revealed that he was working with the Michael Phelp’s brand MP to promote and develop products. These post-Olympic roles peg the swimmer’s net worth at around $10 million in 2021.
Professional alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn probably has more titles to her name than a member of the Royal Family of Britain. She has previously secured four women’s World Cup overall championships (2008-2010 and 2012) and stood as an all-time leader in women’s World Cup race victories (82 wins). The American skier has also won gold and bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics while securing another bronze at the same event in 2018. The Minnesota-born ski-champ also earned eight championship medals during her international racing career. Her dedication to the sport and high level of success has helped her sign deals with brands like Under Armour as early as age sixteen and become its longest-serving brand ambassador. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Project Rock and the renowned brand Head were other major endorsements. With these high-profile sponsors, coupled with regular career earnings, Vonn’s 2021 net worth is about $12 million.
Nadia Comaneci started to practice gymnastics at a local gym when she was just five. But her road to fame was paved when legendary coach Bela Karolyi saw her performing cartwheels on the school playground with a friend. He had just opened a new gymnastics school and realized Nadia was the perfect addition to his school. He was not wrong. Comaneci excelled quickly, and at age 9, became the youngest gymnast to win the Romanian National gymnastics competition ever. Her perfect 10 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal at the age of 14 is unforgettable. This accomplishment made her the youngest gymnast to win gold in the All-Around event. She left an imprint in the gymnastic realm forever. Over the years, Nadia shared her skills with other aspiring gymnasts, signed product endorsement contracts, and performed in several gymnastic competitions, all of which accumulated to a net worth of $12 million.
Here’s an American sprinter who was born into an athletic family. His grandmother ran in college, his mother sprinted as a kid, while his older sister is also a renowned runner. As of 2020 Gay holds the record for the second-fastest runner at 9.69 seconds (previously held by Usain Bolt), a record he set at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in 2009. He shares this record with “The Beast” Yohan Blake, who matched his record at Lausanne, Switzerland in 2012. As of 2021, the American track and field sprinter has an accumulative net worth of $15 million. Through his outstanding career, Gay has bagged sponsorship deals with brands like Adidas, McDonald’s, Sega, and Omega SA, amounting to an estimated $4 million. Further, Gay does not shy away from sporting events, satellite media tours, and autograph signings. The last time we checked, the American sprinter’s net worth was $15 Million.
Carl Lewis is an American-born track-and-field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals and 10 World Championship medals during the 1980s and 1990s. Carl Lewis qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, but he was unable to compete at the Olympics that year because the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. Then in 1984, he got his chance at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, where he managed to win gold medals for the 4 × 100-meter relay, 100m as well as 200m races, and the long jump. After a successful career spanning 17 years, Lewis retired from competition in 1997. As for sponsors, Lewis has previously signed a six-figure endorsement deal with Nike. He has also represented Mizuno, the Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company. The endorsements coupled with past earnings estimated to $115 million. What’s more, the runner has a net worth of $20 million in 2021.
Mark Spitz was one of the many exceptional American swimmers who trained at the Santa Clara Swim Club in California. Prior to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Spitz told the world that he’d win six gold medals, and this claim stirred unavoidable controversy! A statement like that can make one wonder how full of confidence one can be. Spitz won only two golds at the relays and performed way below expectations at the individual races. But at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Spitz proved his worth by winning seven events and setting a record in each of them. After the event, Spitz acquired a poster deal of $50,000 in cash, even before he got back to Los Angeles. Later, he was offered a $5 million deal from none other than Norman Brokaw of the William Morris Agency. In 2021, the legendary Olympian’s net worth was an estimated $20 million.
With a net worth of more than $20 million, former figure skater Oksana Baiul slides right into the list of richest Olympians in the world. But the “Swan of Odessa” came from humble beginnings. Baiul’s grandfather bought her a pair of skates when she was only 4, a gesture that formed the very foundation for her stellar career. At the age of 7, Baiul won her first-ever competition. Later, renowned coach Galina Zmievskaya took Baiul under her wing. Eventually, the figure skater made the Ukrainian team at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. She the gold medal after an extraordinary performance, beating the American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by one-tenth of a point. Apart from being one of the richest Olympians in the world, Baiul has written two books. She also launched her apparel brand in 2002 and appeared in the 2007 musical Cold as Ice.
Alan Pascoe is a retired British athlete who earned his first silver medal in the 400m relays as part of the British team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. But Pascoe was better known for his perfection in hurdles. Thereon, in 1975, he won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 400m hurdles. The athlete did call it quits a little early in his career. After retirement, he worked as a teacher, but not for long. He soon joined MSW Promotions, which he renamed Alan Pascoe Associates in 1984. The former athlete finally found career peace and success in event marketing and consulting. Reports suggest that the hurdle champ was also heavily involved in the bidding process and preparation for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. And if you’re wondering how much this ex-athlete, and now full-time teacher, is worth, he has a net worth of approximately $30 million.
A former World champion and Olympic gold medalist, Scott Hamilton ranks high among the veterans in the history of figure skating. Hamilton was just 22 when he earned his spot on the U.S. National team, though he initiated his training at age 13. From there, he represented the country and turned into the four-time world champion. Hamilton also won the gold medal in men’s figure skating at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. The American figure skater has invested in several multiple initiatives after retirement and is one of the most active celebrities involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His passion for helping others stems from the help he got from Helen M. McLoraine’s philanthropist project—The Pioneer Fund. Her donation helped Hamilton pursue his dream as an athlete when he was at an absolute low. With all the initiatives and work Scott does, he has a well-deserved net worth of $30 million.
Early in his career, Peter Sagan had borrowed an off-the-shelf bicycle from a relative. He has come a long way since then and has won the junior Mountain Bike World Championship in 2008, came in second at the Junior Paris-Roubaix cyclocross competition in the same year. And in 2018, Sagan became the first rider to win the points classification in the Tour de France in his first five attempts. The professional road bicycle racer has represented Dukla Trencin-Merida in 2009, Liquigas-Doimo from 2010 to 2014, and Tinkoff from 2015 to 2016. Then in 2017, the Slovakian joined the German team Bora-Hansgrohe and was paid a handsome sum of $6.7 million, most of which came from the brand Specialized. Given the number of endorsements tied into his career, Sagan has an accumulated net worth of $30 million. He’s the only athlete on this list to not win an Olympic medal.
Lance was a triathlete even before taking on the mantle of professional cycling. He became the national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990. In his senior year, the champion was invited to Colorado Springs to train with the U.S. Olympic development team. Next, he participated in the 1992 Olympic road race but finished in 14th place. However, his skill earned the professional bicycle rider an invite from the Motorola cycling team. Life became difficult for the athlete in 1996 when he battled cancer. The champion recovered a year later, even got back into the racing business. However, as the years went by controversy over doping resulted in Lance losing key sponsors, even though he initially denounced the allegations. Thanks to an investment made early, Armstrong’s net worth reached around $50 million. In 2018, he put $100,000 in Uber, a tech firm that is worth over $15 billion.
Born in San Diego, California in 1986, Shaun White is one of the most successful skate/snowboarders of the 21st century. And believe it or not, one of Shaun’s mentors was none other than the Birdman aka, Tony Hawk. Shaun has won three gold medals at the halfpipe event at the 2006, 2010, and 2018 Olympics. Also, owing to his Olympic and X-Games performances, Shaun was offered a 10-year deal with Burton in 2008. In fact, Burton Snowboards and Shaun’s relationship goes back even further: they gave him his first deal when he was just 7. Some of his other endorsements include Hewlett-Packard, Oakley, Ubisoft, and Target. According to sources, through these endorsements, White was able to earn $9 million back in 2008. As for “The Flying Tomato’s” net worth, it’s estimated to be $60 million in 2021.
You probably saw this name coming from a mile away, and for a good reason. As far as swimmers go, Michael Phelps is one the fastest and most decorated Olympians in athletic history. Before retiring twice, Phelps won 28 Olympic medals, and 23 of them were gold. He is nothing short of a sports icon. His determination to outperform helped bag numerous sponsors, with some casting him in big-budget worldwide commercials. Some of his renowned endorsements are with brands like Speedo, Under Armour, Visa, and Wheaties. And based on reports, he has earned more than $75 million through the respective sponsorships. In 2008, he used $1 million of his signing bonus to set up the Michael Phelps Foundation. He has even co-founded Swim with the Stars, a nonprofit that organizes camps for swimmers of all ages. As of 2021, Michael Phelps’s net worth is approximately $80 million which makes him one of the richest Olympians in the world.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is known as the “fastest man alive.” Despite injuries that could have ended his career early, the athlete went on to win three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bolt was also the first person in Olympic history to win both the 100- and 200-meter races in record-breaking times. In fact, at the 100-meter final leading up to the games, he broke the world record, at 9.69 seconds; famously or infamously, he smugly celebrated while still running. Such controversial and flamboyant style attracted endorsement deals from brands like Puma, paying the runner around $10 million annually. His other sponsors include All Nippon Airways, Gatorade, Virgin Media, Hublot, and even Visa. According to a 2018 report, the runner earned about $31 million in endorsements and prize winnings. As of the year 2021, Bolt’s net worth is estimated at $90 million.
A tennis icon of the 21st century, Federer has aced the courts since he was 14. It was then that the Swiss tennis player became Switzerland’s junior champion. In 1998, the champion won the Wimbledon boys’ singles and doubles titles, and he then turned pro. As of 2020, Federer has 20 Grand Slam titles, won the men’s doubles gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and a silver in the men’s singles at the 2012 London Olympics. In 2018, he accumulated a sum of $77.2 million, of which $65 million came solely from endorsements. One of them was a 10-year deal worth $300 million with Japanese clothing company Uniqlo. Another was with Rolex, who signed an endorsement deal with the legend for $15 million. Other major endorsed brands include Mercedes, Jura, Rolex, and NetJets. When it comes to Roger Federer’s net worth, it was $450 million last we checked.