Olympic athletes have talents outside of sports, and it’s often those talents paying the bills.
It can be very difficult for Olympic athletes to survive financially while they put in the training time necessary to compete at a world class level. For every Shawn White or Lindsey Vonn making buckets of money from sponsorships, endorsements, and professional earnings; there are hundreds more who earn almost nothing financially from their sport, while spending up to tens of thousands of dollars on coaches, facilities, equipment, and plain old living while they prepare. There have been some painful stories of young Olympians’ dreams sending families into bankruptcy.
There are various private foundations that provide support or awards to Olympic athletes, and a number of companies (Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot) have created special programs to employ Olympic hopefuls, paying them above-market wages with flexible hours that allow them to train and compete while earning a livable income.
But many Olympic athletes have ‘normal’ day jobs; some only in off years, others only before they start competing internationally or after they retire, and others throughout the process of realizing their Olympic dreams.
It’s easy to think of Olympians as just athletes since that’s usually the only context in which we see them; but Olympic athletes have unique skills, talents, and ambitions outside of sports, just like the rest of us. And while they may get more glory and exposure for their athletics, it’s often those other skillsets that pay the bills and allow the Olympic dreams to come true. Here are some of those “other” jobs of current Olympians:
Aileen Geving - Curler / Account Executive
Team USA Women's Curler Aileen Geving is an Account Executive at the Marsh & McLennon Agency.
Chris Fogt - Bobsledder / Army Captain
Chris Fogt of Team USA Men's Bobsledding is a Captain in the US Army.
Jennifer Jones - Curler / Lawyer
Jennifer Jones, of Team Canada's curling squad, is also a lawyer.
John Landsteiner - Curler / Corrosion Engineer
John Landsteiner, when he's not competing for Team USA curling, is a corrosion engineer for Lake Superior Consulting.
Jonathan Cheever - Snowboarder / Plumber
When he's not competing, snowboarder Jonathan Cheever works as a plumber and handyman.
Joe Polo - Curler / Project Manager
Joe Polo of Team USA Curling is a Project Manager for a construction company when he's not competing.
Justin Krewson - Luge / Firefighter / Aspiring Welder
When he's not competing in Luge for Team USA, Justin Krewson is a member of the Lake Placid fire department. He's also in school to become a welder.
Matt Hamilton - Curler / R&D Technician
Team USA Curler Matt Hamilton, mildly internet-famous for looking like Mario, is surprisingly not the plumber on this list. He's an R&D Technician for Spectrum Brands.
Nick Cunningham - Bobsledder / National Guard Sergeant
Nick Cunningham, for Team USA Men's Bobsledding, is a Sergeant in the New York National Guard.
Nina Roth - Curler / Nurse
Team USA Women's Curler Nina Roth is a Nurse. She credits her profession for helping her calm her nerves when competing in the precision sport.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle - Skier / "Syrup Chugger"
Ryan Cochran-Siegle, a skier for Team USA in alpine skiing, works for his family's maple syrup company, Slopeside Syrup. He refers to himself as a pro maple syrup chugger. He's also studying toward a dual degree in physics and mechanical engineering.
Tabitha Peterson - Curler / Pharmacist
Team USA Women's Curler Tabitha Peterson is a Pharmacist.
Tyler George - Curler / Liquor Store Manager
Tyler George of the Team USA Men's Curling team is the General Manager of George's Liquor, a liquor store in Minnesota.
Wiley Maple - Skier / Housepainter
Wiley Maple, a skier for Team USA, to qualify for the Olympics, paid his way through the World Cup circuit by sanding and painting houses and delivering barbeque in Aspen.
We would all love to be paid to do what we are most passionate about doing; the reality is that for most of us that will not happen right away, if ever. So in the meantime we must find something that pays.
That doesn’t mean giving up on our dreams and passions, it just means supporting them with an income-producing side gig (or main gig); using one talent to support the continued development of another. That’s true for athletes, just as it is for aspiring artists, writers, or entrepreneurs.
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