Winning gold at the Olympics is arguably every elite athlete’s dream. It’s not about the money, though: Olympic medalists do not win any prize money from the International Olympic Committee, though many individual home countries offer incentives. In Canada, for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Excellence Fund rewards our athletes with performance awards of $20,000 (gold), $15,000 (silver) and $10,000 (bronze) for winning Olympic medals.
With that said, money and athletics still tend to go hand and hand — even for Olympians. We often hear stories of the sacrifices some athletes have to make in order to afford just going to the Olympics. Still, there are also plenty of Olympians who never have to worry about money. Some were already rich when they participated at the Olympics; others got rich afterwards.
Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the richest former Olympians alive today, based on their estimated net worth (in US dollars). While most earned their fortunes outside of their Olympic performance, they all participated as athletes at an Olympic Games.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo
Estimated net worth: $500 millionWealthy Gorilla estimates soccer-star Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth at $500 million. Ronaldo is also considered one of the world’s most marketable athletes and this brings in big money in the form of endorsements and sponsorships. The Manchester United star is also captain of Portugal’s national team. Ronaldo represented Portugal at the Olympics once, at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, when his team placed 14th. He was only 19 at the time.
9. Magic Johnson
Estimated net worth: $600 millionWealthy Gorilla estimates Magic Johnson’s net worth at $600 million. Even though he's retired from the game, Johnson is still regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. After retirement, he became a maverick at business, with an empire that includes movie theatres, a TV network and part ownership in sports franchises.
The story nearly had a very different ending, though. Late in 1991, while his wife Cookie was pregnant, Magic retired from the game after testing positive for HIV. Fans encouraged him to return to the court in 1992, despite discrimination by some other players. That same year, he was chosen to be a member of the United States' “Dream Team” for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The team did more than just represent the United States: they came home with a gold medal.
8. LeBron James
Estimated net worth: $850 millionAccording to Forbes, LeBron James has an estimated net worth of approximately $850 million. He nearly became a professional football player – he was even recruited to play college football – but fate had something different in store for him. He made his professional basketball debut in 2003 and has since become a superstar raking in the endorsement deals. Business ventures include a production company that has produced documentaries, a game show and comedy series, as well as some shrewd investments. A $1 million co-investment in a pizza chain in 2012 grew to $25 million within five years, for instance.
James has been a member of the United States’ basketball team at the Olympics three times. He brought home a bronze from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and gold from both the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
7. Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Estimated net worth: $1 billionCelebrity Net Worth says that Albert II, Prince of Monaco, has an estimated net worth of $1 billion, which places him among the richest world leaders. Much of his fortune comes from land in Monaco and France and shares in the company that operates the casinos that have made Monaco one of the countries with the highest per-capita income. His love of sport is well known and he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985.
As Albert Grimaldi, the prince has represented Monaco in bobsledding five times at the Winter Olympics: in Calgary in 1988, in Albertville in 1992, in Lillehammer in 1994, in Nagano in 1998 and in Salt Lake City in 2002. He retired from the sport after his last Olympic Games and three years later, became ruler of Monaco. His wife, Princess Charlene, is an Olympian too, having competed for South Africa in swimming at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
6. Anna Kasprzak
Estimated net worth: $1.2 billionForbes places Anna Kasprzak’s net worth at an estimated $1.2 billion. It’s not just because she can afford them that the dressage rider never has to worry about where to find riding boots: along with her brother and mother, she co-owns the Danish shoe company ECCO, which was founded by her grandfather.
Kasprzak represented Denmark twice at the Summer Olympics. In 2012 in London, her team placed fourth in the team competition, and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, her team placed sixth. She also placed 14th in the individual competition.
5. Ion Tiriac
Estimated net worth: $1.6 billionForbes estimates Ion Tiriac’s fortune at $1.6 billion. The 1970 French Open men’s doubles tennis champion, he was one of the world’s top players back in the day. After he retired, he became coach and manager for several stars of the sport, including a young Boris Becker, who would become one of the world’s richest tennis players for a while. Along with his post-retirement tennis work, he also embarked on other business ventures in what was then West Germany. When communism fell in his native Romania, he focused on business ventures in his homeland.
While tennis is the sport that brought him fame and fortune, it was something completely different that made him an Olympian. In 1964, at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, he was a member of the first Romanian men’s ice hockey team to compete in the Olympics.
4. Michael Jordan
Estimated net worth: $1.6 billionForbes estimates Michael Jordan’s net worth at $1.6 billion. Considered by many as the greatest basketball player of all time, it’s no surprise that he was the first NBA player to become a billionaire. Even though he hasn’t played basketball professionally since 2003, he still makes millions in endorsements every year. Jordan has written several books, has been the subject of the docuseries The Last Dance and starred in the hit movie Space Jam, which earned more than $1 billion in merch. Other business ventures include stakes in sports franchises, restaurants and car dealerships.
The Olympics are a big part of Jordan's legend. He won his first gold medal when he was a member of the United States’ men’s basketball team at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. In 1992, he did it again as a key member of the “Dream Team” in Barcelona.
3. Tyler Winklevoss
Estimated net worth: $3.8 billionAccording to Forbes, Tyler Winklevoss has an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion. In 2002, while studying at Harvard, Tyler, his twin brother Cameron and their classmate Divya Narendra devised a social network to help university students stay connected. In 2003, they invited Mark Zuckerberg to become involved and the rest is – well, just watch The Social Network for a basic but Hollywood idea of what happened. After suing Facebook, the Winklevoss twins received a handsome settlement and invested some of it in Bitcoin. In 2012, they started Winklevoss Capital Management and two years later they started cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, with Tyler as CEO.
The Winklevoss brothers started rowing in high school and in 2008, they became Olympians when they represented the United States in the coxless pair event at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. They placed sixth.
2. Cameron Winklevoss
Estimated net worth: $3.8 billionForbes estimates that Cameron Winklevoss has a net worth of $3.8 billion. Cameron is the mirror image of his identical twin brother, Tyler: Cameron is left-handed and Tyler-right-handed. While Tyler is CEO of their cryptocurrency company Gemini, Cameron is its president. They’re not only partners in business but partners in sport too. Cameron and Tyler rowed together in the coxless pair event at the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. They’re fictional Olympians as well: in an episode of The Simpsons, they – or rather, their cartoon versions – competed against Patty and Selma, Marge’s sisters, at the 2012 London Olympics.
1. Agnete Kirk Thinggaard
Estimated net worth: $8.5 billionForbes estimates Agnete Kirk Thinggaard’s net worth at $8.5 billion, which makes her one of the richest people in one of the world’s richest countries. Along with her father, sister and brother, she has a 75 per cent stake in a little toy company her great-grandfather started in 1932. While she’s not involved in LEGO’s day-to-day business, she is a member of the board of the LEGO Foundation.
Thinggaard is a dressage rider and it’s this sport that has made her an Olympian. She represented Denmark at the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where she and fellow richest Olympian Anna Kasprzak were members of the Danish dressage team that placed sixth in the team competition. She placed 26th in the individual competition.