Athletes in the NBA and NFL are easily some of the highest-paid in the world. And with seemingly limitless salary caps, it’s easy to assume that everyone who competes in professional sports are compensated handsomely. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Just take Olympic athletes. Despite being among the most talented competitors on the planet, their salaries rarely reflect that. In fact, they make such little money that most of them are forced to hold regular day jobs in between their intensive training! Just take a look at these 20 Olympics athletes and their surprising day jobs…
1. Michelle “Shot Diva” Carter (shot-putter): In case you’re wondering how one earns the nickname “Shot Diva,” it’s by being both a world-class shot-putter and an incredible makeup artist. Carter also runs a confidence-building sports camp called You Throw Girl.
2. Nico Hernandez (boxer): Get too close to this Olympic boxer and you’re risking a TKO! But when he’s not going toe-to-toe with other athletes, he works for his father’s trucking company in Wichita, Kansas.
3. Ashley Nee (kayaker): Though she might not be paid the big bucks to kayak in the Olympics, she’s still found a way to turn her passion into profit. How? By working as an adventure kayak instructor when she’s not competing!
4. Mara Abbott (cyclist): To make the cut as an Olympic cyclist, you have to be fit and limber. This works well for Abbott, who pulls a second shift as a yoga instructor in Boulder, Colorado. She also writes for the Boulder Daily Camera.
5. Kerron Clement (hurdler): It’s no secret that Olympic athletes are in extremely good shape, and Clement is no exception. When he’s not jumping over hurdles, he’s acting and modeling; he even made an appearance in a Beyoncé music video once!
6. Amy Cozad (diver): Taking a plunge from the high dive in front of millions of viewers takes guts… but so does getting up in front of students at Indiana University. That’s where Cozad works as a math tutor when she’s not in the pool.
7. Laura Graves (equestrian): Born in Orlando, Florida, Graves always dreamed of participating in the Olympics as an equestrian. Luckily for her, she made that dream happen. When she isn’t leaping over hurdles, her grooming skills are put to the test—she’s a hairstylist.
8. Alex Naddour (gymnast): When Naddour’s not slinging himself from one uneven bar to the other, he’s pummeling the housing market and jumping through rings as an Arizona realtor!
9. Christa Dietzen (volleyball player): Not only is Dietzen an ultra-talented athlete on the volleyball court, but she’s bravely translated her hard work and dedication to the classroom. When she’s not serving and setting for the gold, she works as an elementary school teacher!
10. Meghan O’Leary (rower): Before O’Leary began her Olympic rowing career, she worked full-time for ESPN as a producer. With so much time dedicated to training these days, though, she’s switched to a part-time job as both a media consultant and freelance writer.
11. Bob and Mike Bryan (tennis players): It’s unfair just how talented these all-time winningest double team tennis players are. Why? Because when they’re not using their rackets, they’re making a racket in their band! The twins write songs for commercials, with Bob on keyboards and Mike on drums.
12. Megan Guarnier (cyclist): Olympic cyclists get a lot of time to think while they’re pedaling away. That’s great news for Guarnier, who spends her time thinking about becoming a neuroscientist. In the meantime, she holds a part-time position at an engineering firm.
13. Steve Kasprzyk (rower): Training to become an Olympic athlete is arguably one of the most strenuous things you can do. So why would Kasprzyk want it any differently in his day job, where he works as a chemical engineer?
14. Briana Provancha (sailor): Knowing their athletes are underpaid, the Olympic committee has taken it upon themselves to help some athletes find jobs through the Team USA Career Program. That’s where Provancha found her position as a sales associate at Cole Haan.
15. Seth Weil (rower): Though this Olympic rower has dreams of eventually pursuing a career in aviation, for now, he can be found slinging healthy juices at a juice bar in Princeton, New Jersey.
16. Enkelejda Shehaj (shooter): As a dedicated athlete, it only makes sense that being an Olympian would play a big part in her entire life. In her spare time, Shehaj owns and operates a Greek restaurant called Olympia Dining in Naples, Florida.
17. Cyrus Hostetler (javelin thrower): Hostetler is one creative Olympian because he found a way to combine his love for the sport and his day job. How? By becoming a graphic designer—and creating the official font and web design for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials!
18. John Nunn (race walker): It takes a lot of endurance to speed walk a 50-kilometer race—that’s 31.6 miles! When Nunn’s not on the track, though, he makes up for all those burned calories with the gourmet cookie business he runs with his young daughter, Ella. Appropriately dubbed Ella’s Cookies, they ship their orders nationwide!
19. Jared Ward (marathon runner): Marathon runners have to know the statistics of other racers they’re up against at all times. Luckily for Ward, he works as a statistics professor at Bringham Young University, so he’s got his bases covered!
20. Andrew Campbell Jr. (rower): When Campbell isn’t racing in the Olympics, he’s working at the financial tech startup Quantopian. According to him, their mission is to level the Wall Street playing field.
It’s easy to assume all athletes make millions of dollars, but if these Olympians are any proof, that’s not always the case. In fact, some of their jobs are about as normal as you can get!
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