The Economy of the Olympics

Is the Money Involved with Hosting & Advertising the Olympics Really Worth It?


For a select few, the time and cost of training for the Olympics pays off in endorsement deals as well as medals. Athletes who combine performance with personality -- think Michael Phelps' charisma, Gabby Douglas' smile or Lolo Jones' comeback story -- can reap millions.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, recently re-crowned the fastest man in the world with his 100-meter dash win in London, reportedly makes $20 million in endorsements every year. Olympic veteran Phelps also has his share of endorsement deals, including Subway, Visa and Under Armour, totaling about $7 million per year, according to Forbes, and Phelps' agent has said that the swimmer's most recent wins should help him secure hundreds of millions in future endorsements. 

The future is also bright for newly minted Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, who has two gold medals in gymnastics to her name, along with a bubbly personality and a compelling personal story. She has already appeared in a Proctor and Gamble ad, and struck a deal to appear on boxes of Kellogg's Corn Flakes; analysts generally expect millions more in endorsement deals to come her way.