Michael Phelps, the most prolific Olympic gold medallist for two millennia, probably doesn’t have to sweat too much when it comes to considering the financials of a post-swimming retirement.
The American already enjoys lucrative endorsement deals with sportswear brand Under Armour and watchmaker Omega and after securing a fourth gold medal of the 2016 Games in the 200m individual medley to take his overall Olympic tally to 22 golds and and 26 medals, surpassing a 2,168 year old record held by Leonidas of Rhodes in the process, he will surely never be short of work on the motivational speaker circuit.
But if the unthinkable does happen and this unmatched champion does fall upon hard times and hit rock bottom? That medal collection would provide quick windfall.
If Phelps had sold all his 22 gold medals immediately after winning them, they would have earned him a bare minimum of $7,874 (£6,074), based on the World Gold Council’s rough “podium value” — calculated using bullion prices and composition of materials in the medal at the time.
Phelps’ first six gold medals won at the Athens 2004 Games were worth $155 each based on the value of gold at the time, a collective $930.
Four years later in Beijing and the swimming sensation enjoyed his best ever Olympics with eight gold medals worth $215 each and $1,720 together.
Yet it was the 2012 Games which would have Phelps’ most lucrative Olympics. The gold medals given to athletes in London were the most expensive in history, worth $706 each, and a collective $2,824 to Phelps who took home four.
This year each gold medal is worth $600.
Of course, if Phelps did for some reason did decide to cash in on his haul, the value added to the medals from the prestige of both the Olympics itself and the fact that they belonged to the most decorated Olympian of all time would likely boost the selling price to stratospheric levels.
The most expensive Olympic gold ever is the iconic medal won by African American sprinter Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany were sold at an auction in 2013 for $1.5m.
Ukrainian boxer Waldimir Klitschko sold his 1996 boxing gold medal for $1m in 2012 and donated the proceeds to charity.