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Some Olympic Athletes Have To Crowd-Source Money to Get to Russia

While Olympic athletes may be our heroes, they aren't getting rich off their work, and some have to crowd-source funding for their trips to Sochi

smithsonian.com

Getting to the Olympics isn't easy. But beyond the workouts, the training, the competition and the qualifiers, some Olympic athletes are finding out that it's not just hard to qualify, it's hard to get there. While Olympic athletes may be our heroes, they aren't getting rich off their work, and some athletes are having to crowd-source funding for their trips to Sochi this year.

Stephen Wayne Kaisica at Outside Magazine reports that athletes are looking to the web to raise the money they need to get to the Olympics:

After years of decline starting in 2009, the USSA has only recently seen a 1.6 percent increase in corporate sponsorship funds, according to data from its annual reports. Spokesman Tom Kelly, told Bloomberg most of the 54 skiers on the U.S. team pay some of their travel costs—typically $20,000 a year—out of their own pockets.

Ski jumper Lindsey Van, for example, turned to RallyMe.com to raise about $20,000 of the $85,000 she needs for travel, equipment and lodging each year. Bill Kerig, the founder of RallyMe.com, actually did a documentary about Van and was surprised by just how much time Van spends trying to find money to continue competing. “These are world champions begging for two dollars to do what they love," Kerig told the Washington Post. He took that experience and launched RallyMe as a Kickstarter for athletes. And other athletes have jumped on board too. Rick Maese from the Post reports:
Even with traditional corporate sponsors onboard, many athletes still face a funding gap. To entice individuals to make small contributions, RallyMe encourages athletes to offer “swag.” For example, short track speedskater, Alyson Dudek, a bronze medallist at the 2010 Games, sends a personalized e-mail to anyone who donates $25. A $50 donation garners a shout-out on Facebook and $100 earns an autograph. Those with deep enough pockets could get a skating lesson from Dudek in exchange for a $1,500 donation.

Few fans realize just how expensive it is for athletes to continue competing. Maybe it's time for Olympic fans to start chipping in, too.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Is It Possible to Move the Winter Olympics Away From Russia?
Playing Sports Is Getting Too Expensive for Many Kids’ Families

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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