American wrestlers grappling in Rio this month are competing for much more than just gold medals thanks to some wealthy Wall Street donors.
A group of former wrestlers-turned financial gurus who have worked at some of America’s top financial firms have pooled their own money with charitable donors’ to grant larger cash prizes to wrestlers who win Olympic medals, The New York Times reports.
They call it the Living the Dream Fund, and since its 2009 revamp, the program has awarded about $1.2 million to American wrestlers, according to The Times.
“You have to find someone who’s wealthy and loves wrestling,” fund steward and private equity investor Michael E. Novogratz told The Times. “They’re out there, but you have to find them. It’s like being an ancient Spartan, doing the right thing.”
Most U.S. Olympians not named Michael Phelps, Serena Williams or Gabby Douglas who win a gold, silver, or bronze medal this year will receive little more than the U.S. Olympic Committee’s respective $25,000, $15,000, or $10,000 for their troubles. Major endorsement deals from companies like Under Armour (UA), Kellogg’s (K), and Chase (JPM) come few and far between.
But wrestlers like Jordan Burroughs of Camden, NJ, who won a gold medal in London’s 2012 Olympic games, can win an additional $250,000 from Living the Dream. Silver medal winners receive an additional $50,000 from the fund. Bronze medalists get an additional $25,000, according to the fund’s website. Since 2011, Burroughs himself has received a total of $415,000 from LDF, according to The Times.
“It’s great any time you get an extra incentive, in addition to being the strongest man on the planet,” Burroughs told The Times. “There’s not a lot of money floating around in the sport, so it’s key for us to compete at our best in the Olympic Games.”
The 5’7″ and 163 lb. Burroughs leads a U.S. team including Adeline Gray, Kyle Snyder, and J’den Cox competing for Olympic gold this month. The Games’ wrestling events are scheduled to begin Sunday.