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7 Creative Ways Pro Athletes Fund Their Way To The Olympics

Illustration by Andrew Rae

Training full time for the Olympics is, well, a full-time job—but it's not a fruitful one: Athlete stipends can be just hundreds of dollars per month. To fund their dreams, hopefuls get creative.

1. U.S. Synchronized Swimming Team

The strategy was simple: Be seen. They performed for an elite crowd at the Super Bowl Village to solicit generous donations.

2. Nick Symmonds

The American half-miler used eBay to auction his skin as a temporary-tattoo canvas for sponsors. It worked, earning him an extra $11,100.

3. Fuahea Semi

The luger from tropical island nation Tonga legally changed his name to Bruno Banani, a German underwear company that agreed to sponsor him.

4. Ben Kjar

The U.S. wrestling hopeful capitalized on social media and persuaded one of his sponsors, LowVARates, to donate $2 for every new "Like" the company got on Facebook.

5. Khatuna Lorig

The U.S. archer earned money (and publicity) by helping Jennifer Lawrence prep for her role as shooting-savvy Katniss in the popular flick The Hunger Games.

6. James Ellington

The British sprinter sold himself on eBay for promotional purposes. He raised nearly $53,000—but the mysterious bidder never came forward.

7. Tim Morehouse

To attract the attention of sponsors, the U.S. fencer gave high-profile demonstrations to President Obama and celebrities such as Donald Trump.

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.