Tokyo Olympics 2020: How much is a New Zealand athlete’s gold medal worth?

A gold-winning Olympic athlete could earn as much as $500,000 for fronting an advertising campaign for a major brand.

This is according to an advertising industry source who preferred not to be named due to the commercial sensitivity of endorsement deals.

The source told the Herald that they would be willing to pay ten times as much for an athlete who has won a gold medal or reached the pinnacle in their sport.

In addition to this athletes can also further top up their television earnings by signing up for a series of social media posts.

The source told the Herald that a Kiwi athlete with a high enough profile could earn as much as $60,000 to $100,000 per year for as few as six social media posts and related content in a year.

All of this, of course, depends on the marketability of the athlete. Factors like personality, the prominence of the sport and even the extent of their social media presence all factor in to how much an athlete can request in remuneration.

A second industry source, who also spoke to the Herald under the condition of anonymity, said that some athletes also play the longer game, signing up for contracts that ensure them an annual salary.

A three- to five-year contract could see an athlete earn well into the six figures per annum, according to the source.

And that’s only for one brand.

The most marketable athletes will have a number of endorsement deals across numerous categories.

Talent agents will often ensure that athletes have endorsements among a number of non-competing companies, ensuring a range of different incomes.

And the amount that can be earned increases enormously if the athlete has enough international appeal to take that endorsement across borders.

Athletes that do have multinational appeal could earn millions from becoming the face of a brand, the source says.

PR specialist Deborah Pead wouldn’t go into any specific figures but told the Herald that “gold on the podium definitely translates to gold in the bank account”.

She explained the bankability of success often depends on the willingness of the athlete to take the success from the stadium into the commercial world.

Some athletes prefer to live quieter lives and focus on their sport, but others see value in capitalising on the commercial opportunities afforded by their success.

“Athletes can treat endorsement as a job, earning a long-term salary from their work with brands.”

Pead says the best corporate relationships between brands and athletes happen when the traits of the athlete correspond with the qualities the brand is trying to push.

She uses the off-the-cuff example of an endurance runner being a natural fit for something like a tyre company looking to push the idea that its products last longer than those offered by competitors.

Another good connection for athletes is health and nutrition.

“Their focus on personal health and nutrition translates well into health, nutrition and wellbeing brands. Remember the Evers-Swindell twins for Beef & Lamb, and Ritchie McCaw for Fonterra.”

She does, however, warn that endorsement deals these days demand more than simply appearing in an ad or on a billboard.

Brand ambassadors might be required to front events, host bootcamps, assist in the production of content, among a host of other responsibilities.

All this means that athletes must be willing to put a little work in for their earnings.

Full Kiwi schedule below. Click on a name to see athlete’s bio, upcoming events, past Games performance and medal chance.

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