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.

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  • These ideas are great and to be commended, but it's only a fraction of the athletes who took part in the Olympics the majority of whom also need financial support. When you think that over 10,000 athletes participated in London 2012, it is only a handful of those who have the public profile to command attracting large sponsors. Since 2009, TeamedUp in the UK, has been working with athletes and businesses for mutual benefit. Giving companies un-rivalled access to world class medal winning athletes for staff and client incentivization and athletes much needed cash. The model works well, if not well publicised, and continues to help the majority of athletes who need the extra income.