China's Gold Rush Pays Off Nicely for Athletes

Government, corporations give athletes big bucks on top of Olympic glory
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2008 11:04 AM CDT
Gold medalists Zhang Yining, center, silver medalist Wang Nan, left, and bronze medalist Guo Yue, right, all from China, are champs in table tennis.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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(Newser) – Decades ago, bringing glory to the motherland would have been the sole reward for victorious Chinese Olympians. The glory is still there—plenty of it, as China leads the gold medal table—but champions can now expect an average reward of $300,000 in cash and bonuses, even before corporate sponsorship deals roll in, the Los Angeles Times reports.

China is far from the only country to reward its winners: American gold medalists get $25,000 from the US Olympic Committee, Germans get 50 liters of beer a month, Belarusians get a lifetime supply of sausages, while North Koreans get the nation's "Hard-working Hero" award. This year, Mongolia's first-ever gold medalist got a lucky phone number: 9999-9999.