From the looks of what we see on TV, Olympic athletes seem to spend 100 percent of their time honing and using their superhuman skills in massive sports arenas in front of millions of people. But the reality for many Olympic athletes is that their competitive sport doesn't provide them with an even flow of income — it's mostly the sponsorships and ad campaigns that successful Olympians nab that do — meaning that many of them have to get part-time work. Yes, really: Olympians have day jobs like the rest of us, even the ones who will be participating in Team USA during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongCheng! It's not all sponsorships, cereal boxes, and speaking tours for the average Olympian. Only a lucky few are able to support themselves financially off of endorsements they make after competing in the games.
Contrary to what many may assume, the International Olympic Committee doesn't actually pay athletes to compete in the Olympic Games, and the United States is one of the only countries that doesn't offer government support to its athletes. So, if you don't walk away with a medal, it could mean literally walking away in debt. And the numbers might not be as high as you imagine, either. The U.S. Olympic Committee awards $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. While there are some national sports organizations that cover training fees and equipment for U.S. athletes — think of these as mini sponsorships — that doesn't cover their bread and butter.
With families to support, training to continue, and bills to pay, many of these athletes have to find the time to train for the all-consuming event, in addition to carrying out the tasks of a day job. They sleep less, they work more, they find the time to make money so they can afford to follow their dreams. Honestly, this is a fact that makes me feel pretty lazy about the way I live my own life, but that's a different story for a very different article so I won't go into that here.
If there's anything that we can learn from the Olympic athletes about time management and priorities, it's that if you want something, you find the time for it, no matter how difficult it is. If you're looking for some inspiration to get your life together (or if you're just interested in seeing what day jobs Olympians who will be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics hold) check out this list of Olympians who work tirelessly to achieve greatness, working day jobs when they're not training for gold medals.
A Team USA cross-country skier who offers Nordic ski instruction to children in Alaska, and would eventually like to become a teacher.
A Team USA short track speedskater who works as a real estate agent in Detroit.
A Team USA curler who works for Dick's Sporting Goods as part of its Team USA Olympic Contenders Program.
A Team USA curler who works as a pharmacist in the Twin Cities.
A Team USA luge athlete who is a member of Lake Placid Fire Department.
A Team USA speedskater who works for Dick's Sporting Goods in the US Contender Team.
A Team USA bobsled athlete who is a teacher in San Fransisco and New York City.
A Team USA bobsled athlete who works as a teacher in San Fransisco.
A Team USA biathlon athlete who works as executive director at the Crosscut Mountain Sport Center in Bozeman, Montana.