Michael Phelps has the biggest net worth of any swimmer of all time, and in fact has built a bigger personal value than the two-time NBA MVP and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
The most decorated Olympian in the modern history of the games, Phelps has amassed a net worth that Money Nation estimates to be $55 million. For reference, that’s close to double that of Stephen Curry, who has a net worth of $27 million, and is more than $20 million higher than Hillary Clinton’s $32 million.
As Phelps continues his final run through the Olympics with another slew of gold medals in Rio, there is plenty of attention on his value. Google searches for “Michael Phelps net worth” have soared in the week since the Olympic Games started, with many people curious at just how much money the best swimmer in history could be worth.
Michael Phelps derives much of his net worth from endorsement deals. He’s got contracts with Under Armour and Omega, along with a number of smaller, swimming-specific companies. The most visible endorsements are likely Wheaties and Subway, which actually used cardboard cutouts of Phelps in their locations during and after the 2012 Olympics in London. Money Nation noted that he’s pulling in about $12 million per year with all endorsements combined.
Phelps has also built his net worth through his wins in the pool and the medals he’s taken, Heavy.com noted.
“Phelps has earned a figure pegged around $1.8 million since 2001 from swimming medals, according to Money Nation. That’s equivalent to a salary of $113,000 per year. That number is based on $25,000 for each of the 18 Olympic gold medals Phelps has won, plus $15,000 for each of his two silvers and $10,000 for each of his two bronzes. That figure will go up by $75,000 as Phelps has won three gold medals as of Tuesday night in Rio.”
Though Michael Phelps has the record for gold medals and is the biggest name in swimming history, many experts say his net worth isn’t as high as it could be. Patrick Rishe, the director of the sports business program at Washington University of St. Louis, told CNBC that Michael’s spotty personal history make him a bit of a risky investment for companies. Phelps was photographed smoking marijuana in 2009, and was picked up for a DUI five years later.
“There is no question that some companies are going to be extremely risk adverse to using his endorsement services,” he said.
Rishe noted that Phelps isn’t too far removed from his 2014 drunk driving arrest and the voluntary stay in rehab that followed it. The personal mistakes have led a number of potential endorsers to back away, Rishe noted.
“These are real serious mistakes to make no matter how many gold medals he wins in Rio,” Rishe said.
Though the world’s most decorated swimmer has said that Rio will be his final Olympics, those close to him believe that Michael Phelps could still return for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. At that time, he would be 35-years-old and would have a chance to extend his net worth even further.
But even if Phelps does return, being in the public eye only once every four years makes it difficult for him to sign regular endorsement deals, Rishe said.
“There is a reason that Michael Phelps is not getting let’s say Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth money in terms of endorsements. These are pro golfers in the limelight on a regular basis. If we believe this is Michael Phelps’ last Olympics, then he’s not going to be in the limelight going forward.”
But experts also believe a strong performance in the Rio 2016 Olympics could help Michael Phelps repair and rebuild his image and ultimately build his net worth even higher.
[Photo by Michael Sohn/AP Images]