In the world of gymnastics, Simone Biles is the GOAT. Even her decision to bow out of the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year was just another chapter in the epic Book of Biles. Her strength, power, and discipline are undeniable. But how much do all those gold medals put in the bank? Read on to discover Simone Biles’ net worth and the hidden costs of being an elite gymnast.
Simone Biles: From Foster Kid to Superstar Athlete
The 24-year-old senior international elite gymnast came from a challenging background. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, she and her four siblings spent time in foster care as their birth mother struggled with substance abuse issues. When Simone Biles was three years old, her grandparents took the children in. Ron and Nellie Biles would adopt the two youngest kids–Simone and her sister Adria–while the children’s great-aunt adopted the older kids, Ashley and Tevin.
Biles has stated that she considers Ron and Nellie to be her parents. When they decided to adopt their grandchildren, how little did they know that a future legend was in the making? By the time she was fifteen, Biles was already training for 32 hours a week. She left public school in order to complete her education at home while pursuing her passion for gymnastics. She also decided not to attend UCLA, as she had previously promised, but instead focus on her pro career.
How Much Does It Cost to Be an Elite Gymnast?
In addition to the time that gymnasts (and their families) must devote to training and competitions, there’s a real financial cost. According to an investigation by The Daily Beast during the London Olympics, Gabby Douglas’s mother filed for bankruptcy the same year her daughter traveled to the U.K.U.K. in search of Olympic gold. That same year, Ryan Lochte’s parents faced foreclosure on their home.
Training at the kind of facilities that shape future Olympians will set families back $1000 or more a month. That doesn’t take into account the cost of equipment, costumes, and other gear. In addition, travel costs can add up, especially when you factor in lost wages for the families. Gymnasts also incur far more injuries than the average kids, so medical costs can also skyrocket.
While athletes who join the U.S.U.S. national team will have their bills covered and stipends to help them get by, that opportunity is only offered to a handful of people among the many hopefuls out there. In contrast, China runs a rigorous, state-funded training program for its most gifted athletes where all expenses are covered.
Many high-profile athletes look toward championship tours and endorsement deals following their moment on the podium. Increasingly, celebrity gymnasts are finding success on reality T.V.T.V. with programs like Dancing with the Stars. Those who fall short of national team glory may still be able to score a college scholarship. But for almost every athlete who trains to become the next Simone Biles, the road will be paved with lots of financial hardship and very little chance of a payoff at the end.
Where Does Simone Biles Train and Who Are Her Coaches?
Biles currently trains at the World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas. Her grandparents opened the gym and it has served as her home base since leaving Bannon’s Gymnastix Inc. in 2014. WCC is also the home gym for 2020 Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles and fellow senior international elite gymnasts Olivia Greaves and Ashton Locklear.
Biles’ coaches are Laurent Landi and Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, a married couple initially from France. They are both retired gymnasts; Cecile Canqueteau-Landi competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, but did not medal.
From the ages of seven to 19, Aimee Boorman served as Simone Biles’ coach. However, following her stint as the head coach for the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics team at the Rio Olympics, Biles decided to take a year off competing. Boorman moved on to eventually become the assistant coach for the Netherlands women’s gymnastics team.
Payout Per Olympic Medal
US athletes have the chance to pick up a cash prize from the United States Olympic Committee along with their medals. In 2021, the prizes were:
- Bronze – $15,000
- Silver – $22,500
- Gold – $37,500
The cash prize remains the same if you win an individual or a group medal; however, group winners must split the pot between themselves. The prizes are not funded by taxpayer dollars but by private donors to the USOC. Not that she’s likely to sell her medals, but the raw value of the silver and gold plating involved in making a gold medal comes out to about $870. I’m guessing she could get a little more than that on eBay if she was really strapped for cash.
For an athlete like Simone Biles, who is an international star and the central figure in one of the most media-friendly sports in the Olympic Games, training and competing is a full-time job. Most Olympians, however, work other jobs to support their high-pressure hobby. Many of them look for sponsorships and donations, but that can be a tough ask for athletes in less popular sports.
That’s not to say that Simone Biles’ life has been without sacrifice or hardship. Far from it! But the cash prizes from her medals are not her only source of funding.
International Prize Money
Although casual gymnastics fans only tend to pay attention when the Summer Olympics roll around, the truth is that international competitions are happening all the time. Simone Biles has won almost every medal, cup, and award to win in the world.
Unfortunately, the prizes for those competitions tend to be much less than anything offered by the USOC. The prizes range from a few thousand dollars to the low five figures. A 2017 study by the BBC found that the all-around champion can expect to bring home just under $5,000 at a major tournament at the senior international elite level.
That might seem like a lot to you, but when you consider how much it costs to attend competitions worldwide, you can see that these athletes aren’t doing it for the prize money.
Endorsements Are the Real Moneymakers
So how can Simone Biles earn a living and pay her family back for all those years of sacrifice? That would be through her endorsements and sponsorships. She signed with Octagon, the sports talent agency that also represents Michael Phelps, in 2015 ahead of her first Olympic appearance.
Her very first sponsorship deal was with Nike in 2015. At the same time, she cut a deal with a gymnastics sportswear company to sell branded leotards. It wasn’t until after the Rio Olympics, however, that Biles’ opportunities for endorsements exploded. She and the rest of the Final Five Women’s Team achieved the dream of appearing on a cereal box. After that, she worked with Hershey, United Airlines, and even Mattress Firm–although the latter was related to her work to raise awareness for foster care.
Ahead of the 2020 Olympics, Biles appeared alongside Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness in a series of (really cute) Uber Eats commercials. Following her withdrawal from the competition, her sponsors Athleta and Visa both praised Biles for prioritizing her mental health and wellbeing.
“We are past the time when athletes like Simone are valued simply for their athletic prowess,” Jim Andrews, founder of A-Mark Partnership Strategies, told NPR earlier this summer. “She has earned a place in gymnastics history and has proven herself to be an amazing spokesperson and influencer who has much to offer brands even without competing and eventually in retirement.”
Before she retires, though, Biles will once again participate in a national tour. The Gold Over America Tour (or, you know, GOAT) will feature only female athletes. There’s also an emphasis on fun rather than competition. You can learn more about the tour and score tickets here.
Simone Biles’ Net Worth Today
According to estimates by Forbes ahead of the 2020 Olympics, Simone Biles has about $5 million in annual sponsorship and endorsement deals. This summer, she was partnered with Athleta, SK-II skincare products, Visa, United Airlines, Mondelez’s Oreo brand, Core Power fitness shakes, Candid teeth aligners, GK Elite gymnastics apparel, Spieth America gymnastics equipment, Uber Eats, MasterClass, and Facebook Watch.
What’s her current net worth? The most accurate estimate puts it at about $10 million. She purchased a home for herself in 2020, but other than that, she seems to live a modest–even frugal–lifestyle. In a 2018 interview with CNBC, Biles claimed that she has “a fear of going broke.” Given the hardships she endured–and the awareness that most female gymnasts retire in their 20s–Biles seems to have a good head on her shoulders about money.
Unlike generations past, Simone Biles also has another way to earn money beyond traditional sponsorships and endorsements. She has nearly seven million Instagram followers, putting her in a unique position to reach her fans with sponsored posts. Although it’s not clear if Biles will continue competing, we’re sure of one thing: whatever she does next, it’s going to be incredible.