This is 2016 bronze medal winning Team USA fencer Monica Aksamit. If she looks or sounds familiar, it might be from Jack Mac's post a couple of years ago about how she had to do a GoFundMe to raise enough money to make it to Tokyo for these Games.
She ended up not making the team because the shutdown canceled the final qualifying matches so the scores were frozen and she was left on the outside looking in.
Though, for obvious reasons, she's maintained a big social media following. To the point this Tik Tok she posted is up to 20 million views. And the info Monica drops is as eye-opening as any of her modeling posts.
I honestly had no idea Olympians around the globe get paid that much by their countries for winning medals. No. Idea. I suppose it's easy enough to find out. But when you're watching the coverage and it's filled with all this soaring, idealistic rhetoric about athletes triumphing to celebrate cultures and promote better understandingness through the pursuit of friendshipy excellence and build a better world tomorrowishly, they never throw in, "And that swimmer from Singapore who just won gold is about to get fucking PAAAID, Jack!"
I won't pretend to understand the economies of places like Singapore, Indonesia or the Philippines. So I don't know if almost a quarter of a million US dollars represents generational wealth or just a good downpayment of generational wealth over there. But I can do math (Read: I can work the calculator on my laptop), and I know that an American winning gold gets paid almost exactly 1/20th of what they make in these places. One. Twentieth.
So basically, you give up years out of your life, training, staying in shape, sacrificing your free time, giving up indulgences, and striving to be the best you can. Then, if by some miracle, you perform at your absolute best when it counts most against everyone from around the world who's also been paying the price and you win, you get as much as if you said "Fuck all that," and took an entry level 9-to-5er. But if you come in second, whoever beats you can go back to their home country and buy a sprawling estate with their winnings.
Who knew that being a US Olympian was a game for suckers?
Let's be clear about one thing: In no way, shape or form do I support giving public funds to Olympians. If I find out they're dipping into tax dollars to pay for medals in Kayaking and Hammer Throwing, I'm dumping Mike Eruzione into Boston Harbor. (Note: That's just hyperbole. He's a national treasure.) But there's more than enough sponsorship dollars going around to pay these people what other countries do. Hell, when they were floating the idea of bringing the Games to Boston for 2024, it came out that former Mass Governor Deval Patrick was doing consulting work promoting the cause, and he was raking in $7,500 per day.
The Olympics exist not because of all the idealistic bullshit they claim to represent, but because they're a cash cow. Corporations pay Texas-sized mountains of cash to promote fast food and bubbly corn syrup drinks. Too much of that money goes to people who wear suits when it should be going to ones we actually tune in for.
Not exclusively to Monica Aksamit, but I'd like to see her get more than 15 grand for what she accomplished. Though something tells me she's got a successful career ahead of her in her other chosen field.
Jerry's Final Thought: Remember this next time someone is bitching about the fact the US sends our professionals to the Olympics. These other athletes aren't competing out of some type of pure altruism that makes them morally superior. They're out to make a buck the same as anyone else. And for every Kevin Durant we send, there are dozens upon dozens of Monica Aksamits who are getting practically nothing out of all this.