Simone Biles Doesn't Make That Much as a Gymnast

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Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast and holder of seven Olympic medals, shocked the world when she bowed out of the Tokyo Olympic Games two years ago. She still medaled—taking bronze on the balance beam and silver in the women’s team final—but withdrew from five events over concerns for her physical and mental health.

Now, she’s competing for the first time since Tokyo in the U.S. Classic. Though Biles may be rusty in the competition setting, her skills remain on point. Participating in the U.S. national team camp last month, she achieved top scores in every event but the uneven bars, where she took third.

Is Biles on track for a major Olympics comeback at the 2024 Paris Games? Many fans seem to think so. In the lead-up, here’s a look into how she started in gymnastics, her net worth and why she’s the richest in her sport, comeback or not.

Related: All About Simone Biles' Husband, Jonathan Owens

How did Simone Biles get her start?

Born in 1997, Biles started gymnastics at the ripe old age of 6. On a field trip with her daycare, she visited a gymnastics center and began imitating the other gymnasts. The gym later sent her family a letter requesting that she join the sport.

A prodigy in every regard, by 2007 (age 10) Biles was competing as a level 8 gymnast—which, for those of us who don’t speak gymnastics, basically means “really, really good.” She dominated national competitions until 2013, when she became the first Black woman to win the all-around gold at the World Championships.

By 2014 (17 years old), when she won again, some were already calling her the “best gymnast in the world.” She was practically a shoo-in for the 2016 Olympics … and we know how that ended up.

This was all the more impressive considering Biles’ childhood. “Growing up, me and my siblings were so focused on food because we didn’t have a lot of food,” she recalled in her Facebook Watch series Simone vs. Herself. “I remember there was this cat around the house and I’d be so hungry. They would feed this cat and I’m like, ‘Where the heck is my food?’ And so I think that’s where it stemmed where I don’t like cats is because this frickin’ street cat, she always fed it, but she never fed us.”

Biles was placed in foster care as a toddler, along with her siblings, and eventually adopted by her grandparents.

What is Simone Biles's net worth?

In 2023, Simone Biles is estimated to have a net worth of $16 million.

Does Simone Biles have a salary?

Like many Olympic athletes, Biles does not earn a traditional salary. Most of her $16 million fortune has been amassed through various endorsement deals.

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How much did Simone Biles make competing in the Olympics?

Athletes all around the world try for the chance to compete in the Olympics and win glory for themselves and their country. That “glory” part is key, because they don’t get paid much for it.

In fact, those who don’t win aren’t paid anything at all. Those who do medal accept fairly paltry sums (in the scheme of things) of $15,000 for a bronze medal, $22,500 for a silver and $37,500 for a gold, in the U.S. at least. While the Olympics does cover travel, boarding and food, most teams have private sponsors that pay the majority of their costs. And, of course, the real money is made from endorsements, if an athlete is hyped enough to score them.

When Biles first competed in Rio, she made less than the Olympians of today. For each of her four gold medals in 2016, she earned $25,000, and she got $10,000 for the bronze—for a total of $110,000. In 2021, she earned $37,500 ($22,500 for silver, $15,000 for bronze). Overall, she’s made $147,500 for her seven Olympic medals.

How much does Simone Biles make in endorsements?

Now, to the real pot of gold, the reason Biles can call herself a millionaire: endorsement deals. As a highly decorated, famous gymnast, Biles’ face and name is worth a lot in the world of ad campaigns and product lines. According to a 2021 Forbes estimate, she earns at least $5 million annually in endorsements. Although, this number is subject to wild fluctuation, as she made $10 million in 2022.

Companies Biles has partnered with include Athleta, Visa, United Airlines, MasterClass and UberEats.

Related: How Much Do Women's Soccer Players Make?

Is Simone Biles sponsored by Nike?

Back in 2015, when Biles was just 18 years old, she signed on with Nike—a big fish to land for an athlete who hadn’t even been to the Olympics yet. "It was obviously super neat at that age to sign with such a big brand," Biles told The Wall Street Journal in 2021.

Though the terms of the Nike-Biles’ deal were not released, their partnership lasted six years, ending when Biles announced she was leaving Nike to partner with inclusive brand Athleta right before the Tokyo Games.

Why did Simone Biles quit Nike?

According to Biles’ interview with The Wall Street Journal, her departure from Nike was mainly due to differing values and how she wanted to use her star power moving forward. Athleta, apparently, aligned much more closely with her mission.

"I felt like it wasn't just about my achievements, it's what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids," Biles said. "I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing."

Before Biles’ decision to switch to Athleta, Nike was taking heavy criticism for its allegedly poor treatment of pregnant athletes. In an op-ed for The New York Times in 2019, Olympic runner Allyson Felix claimed the brand had offered her a 70% pay cut when structuring a new deal, and refused to give her contractual protections should she not perform at her best while pregnant or as a new mom. (In response to the backlash, Nike announced a new maternity policy for all sponsored athletes, guaranteeing an athlete’s pay and bonuses for 18 months around pregnancy.)

Additionally, The Wall Street Journal piece mentioned that Biles’ share of promotions with Nike didn’t keep pace with her growing accolades.

“[...] Now that I'm older and kind of in the world a little bit more, I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things. So to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for,” Biles said.

Is Simone Biles the richest gymnast?

Last year, Biles made Forbes’ list of highest-paid female athletes, coming in at No. 10. With a Super Bowl commercial, new ads for Subway and Powerade, and an activewear collection with Athleta, among other moves, Biles raked in an estimated $10 million in 2022.

She was also the highest-ranking gymnast on the list, making her the highest-paid female gymnast (and by a landslide, although the tennis and golf stars were really cleaning up). According to other sources, she’s also the richest gymnast in the world, topping the net worths of other countries’ star gymnasts as well as American Shawn Johnson (net worth: $9 million).

Despite her riches, Biles has described herself in the past as being quite frugal. “I will only splurge if I earned it," she's said. One might argue she has.

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