Who Makes More Money: Olympic Athletes or Professional Gamers?

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Steve Anderson
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Who Makes More Money: Olympic Athletes or Professional Gamers?

Now that's a question that will probably leave some scratching their heads most vigorously. After all, we're talking about Olympic athletes, the pride of any nation, those who every four years go forth and attempt to throw things and run fast for a couple weeks at a clip. With an intro like that, you've probably puzzled out the answer to the question, as it turns out that pro gamers actually make more than their Olympic counterparts.

The reports make it clear that Olympic athletes aren't exactly super well paid, though that varies based on location. For instance, in the United States, an Olympic gold medal is worth a $25,000 stipend to its winner, while silver rates $15,000 and bronze $10,000. Singapore, however, dropped nearly a cool million--$753,000--on Joseph Schooling in his victory over Michael Phelps.

Not bad, but compare that against DOTA 2 player Zhang Yiping, otherwise known as Y Innocence. Zhang landed $9.1 million in a competition that was handing out $20 million in total prize money. Some teams have a base salary that could be upward of $65,000 per year. What's more, eSports players can stream their play--practice or professional--to Twitch or YouTube and monetize that operation completely separately of anything else they're paid. Few would likely pay to watch streaming video of a swim practice.

If these numbers are accurate, then there's likely a major opportunity here for gamer kids to make some coin. Of course, the numbers don't seem to take into account Olympic endorsement deals, such as the one Michael Phelps struck with Subway. Still, it's clear that professional gaming can mean some serious coin in the right circumstances. No, this likely won't mean a flood of Olympians setting up Let's Play channels and going after e-sports gold. It might mean a few more eSports figures and a handful fewer Olympians, maybe, in 20 years or so.

There will always be those who strive for Olympic gold for its own intrinsic value. The rise of a new breed of competitive athlete, so to speak, won't likely affect those numbers too much as those who want to be Olympians will stay that way. Those who want to be fast runners and heavy lifters won't be trying to frag noobs except maybe as a hobby. Still, there might prompt some changes; the potential rewards of eSports are hard to pass up.

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