Rio Olympics 2016: Michael Phelps' medal triumph could end up costing him $55,000

A classic Michael Phelps performance at the Rio Olympics ended the swimming legend's career with 23 Olympic gold medals. It was a fittingly triumphant swansong for Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history who added five golds and a silver in Rio. He finished his career with 28 medals overall. But the swim superstar’s incredible success could come at a heavy price – quite literally!

That’s because the five-time Olympian has racked up an income tax bill of around $55000, according to a USA Today report. The United States Olympic Committee awards all Olympic athletes money for each medal that they win – $25,000 per gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for a bronze.

Michael Phelps now holds the honour of being the most decorated Olympian in history. Getty Images

Michael Phelps now holds the honour of being the most decorated Olympian in history. Getty Images

As per this scale, if you factor in Phelps’ Rio medal tally, he would owe Uncle Sam a cool sum of $55,000.

While the amount does seem outrageous (Rs 36.8 lacs) – especially considering the service that an Olympian who wins a medal does for the country – it is worth noting that Phelps, with a net worth north of 50 million dollars, would hardly feel the strain.

The medals are also accounted for as income and their precious metal value – $600 for gold, $300 for silver and next to nothing for bronze – is taxable. Thankfully, the medals are not accounted for based on their market value.

According to a Washington Post report, ‘Phelps’s medals are worth at least $100,000 a pop, maybe more if they're from an especially noteworthy race. The legend of Michael Phelps, the most awarded Olympic athlete of all time, is worth a whole lot of money.’

But there could be some relief for Phelps’ and other medal-winning Olympians – some of whom could actually use the money – as, according to the Washington Post, the US Congress is deliberating the passage of a legislation that could exempt Olympic winnings from the tax ambit.

And for a lot of these athletes – the ones without sponsorship and product deals – who don’t make any significant earnings from their Olympic inclinations, and with no government subsidisation, the tax break could come as a big relief.


Updated Date: Aug 17, 2016 14:41 PM

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