The Post-Olympic Lives of 15 Great Athletes
Olympic athletes are undoubtedly the best in the world at what they do, but unfortunately "what they do" isn't always all that lucrative once their performances start to slip and endorsements fade. Some athletes choose to stick with their sports in a coaching capacity, while others seek jobs far removed from their Olympic pasts. Here are a few notable examples of summer Olympians who veered away from their sporting careers:
Olympic Moment: Won a total of five gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 Games as part of an undefeated amateur swimming career. Also dabbled in water polo, in which he won a bronze at the 1924 Games.
Post-Games Career: Became an early film star by playing Tarzan in twelve films. (He invented the "Tarzan yell" as we know it.) Weismuller actually took over the role from a fellow Olympian, silver medalist shot putter Herman Brix.
Olympic Moment: Upstaging Hitler by destroying the field at the 1936 Games in Berlin.
Post-Games Career: Owens spent some time traveling the country showing off his athletic prowess, but he also ran a dry cleaning business, worked as a gas station attendant, and later traveled as a speaker and goodwill ambassador for the U.S.
George S. Patton
Olympic Moment: Finishing fifth in the first-ever Olympic modern pentathlon, although he might have finished first if not for a scoring controversy in the pistol event.
Post-Games Career: Commanding American troops during World War II as celebrated general "Old Blood and Guts."
Olympic Moment: Won the high jump and set a new Olympic record at the 1968 Mexico City games with his revolutionary back-first "Fosbury Flop."
Post-Games Career: Finished his engineering degree and now owns a civil engineering company in Idaho.
Olympic Moment: Grabbing three track and field medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Games.
Post-Games Career: Took up golf on something of a lark, then became the greatest female golfer of all time. She's still the only woman to ever make the cut at a men's PGA Tour event.
Olympic Moment: Winning five fencing medals for Poland over four Games from 1956 to 1968.
Post-Games Career: Used his status as Poland's top sports start to serve as a spy for the C.I.A. His double life fell apart in 1975, and he spent 10 years in prison.
Olympic Moment: Clinching the women's team gold for the American squad with a vault at the 1996 gymnastic finals despite an injured foot.
Post-Games Career: Has worked as an elementary school teacher and later as an employee of the Treasury Department and Justice Department.
Amy Van Dyken
Olympic Moment: Won a total of six gold medals in swimming at the Atlanta and Sydney Games.
Post-Games Career: Van Dyken has served as a sideline reporter for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks and performed in The Vagina Monologues. She's married to former NFL punter Tom Rouen.
Olympic Moment: Ran his way to gold at the 1956 Melbourne Games in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
Post-Games Career: Became a successful sports journalist and rose to become Head of General Features for the BBC before helping to develop the sport of orienteering and making millions in sporting goods. Brasher later co-founded the London Marathon.
Olympic Moment: Picked up seven Olympic medals in a swimming career that spanned three Games.
Post-Games Career: Has dabbled in modeling (including an appearance in Playboy) and served as a correspondent for Fox's The Best Damn Sports Show Period. Recently made headlines for claiming she did not want to date Michael Phelps.
Olympic Moment: Starred in Reebok's memorable "Dan vs. Dave" commercial campaign prior to the 1992 Games, then won a bronze in the decathlon at Barcelona. (Despite the ad blitz, Dan O'Brien failed to qualify for the Olympics that year.)
Post-Games Career: Johnson returned to Oregon and became an educator, serving as both a high school assistant principal and athletic director.
Olympic Moment: Took the gold in the 100 kg wrestling weight class at the 1996 Games.
Post-Games Career: Left the world of amateur wrestling for the glitz of professional wrestling and rang up multiple WWF/E titles.
Olympic Moment: Winning three straight wrestling golds before American Rulon Gardner's stunning upset at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Post-Games Career: Found a prominent place in Russian politics and won election to the State Duma, or lower house of the legislature, in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Olympic Moment: Won a total of four middle-distance running medals as a British Olympian at the 1980 and 1984 Games.
Post-Games Career: Spent five years in Parliament, then chaired London's successful bid to bring the 2012 Games to England.
Olympic Moment: Winning the gold in the decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Games.
Post-Games Career: Dabbled in film with the colossal bust Can't Stop the Music, a pseudo-biopic of the Village People. (Yes, really.) Later came back into the public eye on the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which follows the lives of Jenner, his wife, and his stepdaughters.