Joseph Schooling‘s win in the 100 meter fly at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was a historic one. In stopping Michael Phelps from completing the 100 fly 4-peat, he cemented his place in history as the first Singaporean athlete to ever win an Olympic gold medal in any sport.
But that gold medal wasn’t the only reward Schooling had coming his way after he touched the wall. Singapore is one of many countries around the world that give their athletes a financial bonus for gold medals, offering $753,000 dollars to any athlete who wins gold.
Schooling has earned the biggest bonus of anyone in the world, as Singapore’s prize is significantly lasrger than that of any other country. The 2nd largest amount is Indonesia’s $383,000 gold medal bonus. In comparison with the USA, Schooling’s bonus is over 30 times larger than the $25,000 offered to American athletes.
While the money is on the table, there lies the question of whether or not Schooling will be able to accept it while maintaining his elligibility in the NCAA with the University of Texas. This isn’t the first time the issue has come up for him, as he was awarded a bonus for winning bronze at the 2015 FINA World Championships, and earned over $31,000 for his performance at the 2015 SEA Games. He was also awarded $370,000 in prize money for his medal winnings at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2014.
That worked out in his favor, as a spokesperson for the University of Texas said Schooling was able to keep the full amount because it was under the allowable NCAA guidelines.
Another example of this came in 2012 when then-amateur Missy Franklin hauled in five medals, four of which were gold and worth $25,000 in prize money each from the United States Olympic Committee. Franklin wasn’t allowed to accept the full financial benefits of her Olympic performance, but she was allowed to keep some of the money.
The NCAA allows athletes to accept money earned through the USOC’s Operation Gold program, which gives money to athletes based on their performance at high-level competitions such as the Olympics or World Championships.
Per NCAA bylaws: An individual (prospective student-athlete or student-athlete) may accept funds that are administered by the U.S. Olympic Committee pursuant to its Operation Gold program. (Adopted: 4/26/01)
In August of 2015, an NCAA policy went into effect that allowed international student-athletes to accept medal bonuses from their countries’ equivalents of the USOC. According to that rule, Schooling will be able to accept the gold medal bonus without forfeiting his elligibility.