Fourth-Place Medal

Russia gives all its gold medalists $120,000, a new Mercedes

If you're in Russia, and you're a medalist at the Sochi Games, life is pretty good for you right now, with cash and a new car waiting for you.

Russia gave all of its gold medalists in the Sochi Games $120,000, plus a brand-new Mercedes GL SUV. This led to a bit of logistical leapfrogging with athletes like Julia Lipnitskaya, who is only 15 and not yet of legal driving age in Russia. (She got a personal driver to go along with the car.) Silver medalists got $76,000 and a Mercedes ML, and bronze medalists got $52,000 and a Mercedes GLK.

A total of 45 cars were distributed to gold medalists. Russia won a Sochi-leading total of 33 medals, including 13 golds. The cars were provided by the Russian Olympians Foundation, a consortium established by Russian businessmen in 2005. Russian athletes who won medals in the 2012 London Games received new Audis with personal drivers.

For comparison's sake, the United States Olympic Committee pays its winners $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze medal. Kazakhstan leads the medal payment rate at $250,000 for a gold, but has not had a gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in 20 years.

"If we put it straight, there has been no such event in the contemporary history of our country which would so much consolidate our nation, our people," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told athletes at the handover ceremony held near the Kremlin.

"You gave us this feeling of pride, you didn't do it on an ordinary day, but rather when the Olympic Games were held in our country."

Of course, not all athletes benefit quite so handsomely.

Russia's athletes in Turin got Toyota and Lexus cars in 2006 and Audi vehicles after the Games in Vancouver in 2010.

Dario Cologna of Switzerland won two golds in cross-country skiing. His reward from his hometown? A pig, which he named "Sochi."

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

Featured Blog Posts

Yahoo! Sports Authors

Olympic, Olympiad, the Olympic rings, Faster Higher Stronger, Citius Altius Fortius and related marks and mascots are owned by the International Olympics Committee, the Sochi Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, or their related entities. This site is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with any of these entities.