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Do skiers make much money? There is no pro skiing league. No NFL for ski jumpers. Yet every four years, we see Olympic skiers advertising for everything from Subway to Under Amour. So are pro skiers raking in the big bucks?
The answers obviously vary greatly, but the short answer is no. Skiers usually do not make much money from skiing. On average, most pro skiers make anywhere from $30,000 to $125,000 a year before taxes, which means that most of them are doing it for the love of the sport and not the money. Especially since you usually do not get paid unless you finish first, second, or third. That said, lots of skiers have used their popularity to make decent money with advertising deals.
Who Is The Highest-paid Professional Skier?
Figuring out who exactly is the highest-paid skier is not exactly straightforward, but both Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller are worth between $6 to $8 million dollars each. This places them well above any other person in the sport. Except, of course, Shaun White, who is worth around $60 million dollars, but he’s a snowboarder, so he does not count.
Where Does This Money Come From?
Almost all of the money that was mentioned above comes from advertising deals. Skiing events do not pay very much, and they pay nearly nothing if you are not in the top three. To give you an idea, for winning a gold medal in 2022, Olympians were paid $37,500, silver was $22,500, and bronze was $15,000. Now, this is no small amount, but mind you, the Olympics are only every four years, and if you do not place, then you will be going home empty-handed.
How Does This Compare To Other Athletes?
Professional skiers do not get paid nearly as well as most professional athletes. To get a better idea, let’s look at some stats on the average salary of other professional athletes.
- NBA (Basketball) = $8.32 Million
- MLB (Baseball) = $4.03 Million
- EPL (Soccer) = $3.97 Million
- NFL (American Football) = $3.26 Million
- NHL (Hockey) = $2.69 Million
Keep in mind that this is the average for all players in their respective leagues. This means that plenty of these pro athletes make far more than this. Michael Jordan is worth upwards of $2 Billion, while the average NBA player gets paid as much as the greatest skiers in the world are worth every year.
Now, of course, these are very different team sports that are watched by a lot of people in the US and other countries, but what about another individual sport? One where people are competing for first, second, and third, just like in professional skiing. I am, of course, talking about golf.
The structure of golf is very similar to that of skiing. Individual athletes compete in competitions all over the world for a chance to win. If they do win, they get paid out handsomely and move on to the next competition. Also, if they are good enough, then they can acquire advertising deals to boost their revenue greatly.
The difference lies in the fact that, on average, a professional golfer can make more than $2 million a year in competition alone. With the possibility of earning up to $100 million a year in advertising deals. This alone is shocking when compared to skiing, but even more so when you look at the best of the best.
As mentioned above, Bode Miller is worth around $8 million, in large part because he has won 6 Olympic medals, more than any other male skier. Now we could compare him to Tiger Wood’s $2 billion dollars, but that’s unfair. Tiger has been doing his sport much longer and is a cultural icon by this point. Instead, we’ll compare him to the highest-paid golfer of last year, Bryson DeChambaeu.
DeChambeau went pro in 2016 and is worth about $14 million dollars, close to double that of Miller. Mind you, Miller has been skiing professionally since 2002. This just illustrates how underpaid professional skiers are.
Why Do Skiers Get Paid So Little?
The simple fact is that no one really watches professional skiing, except every four years at the Olympics. On the other hand, the NBA, NFL, and even MLB are watched religiously both live and on TV every year. Thus, giving those teams the ability to pay their stars huge sums of money to perform. Since skiing does not have that kind of following, the money simply is not there for them.
The Olympics were watched by, on average, 10.7 million people every night. That’s not just skiing, that’s all events. Now, compare that to the average of 17.1 million people who watch football every Sunday. It is fairly obvious that skiers are paid so little when looked at like that.
Linsey Vonn was very public about the amount she makes or does not make as a professional skier. Even stating that “If you’re not in the top five or 10 in the world, you’re struggling to not have to get a second job.” This means that most skiers you see at the Olympics are not doing it for the money.
Professional skiers are usually relying on other sources of income other than skiing unless they are the best of the best. If they are in this elite group, they are making money with advertising contracts and not prize money. Putting the average professional skier with some of the lowest-paid athletes out there.