The Day Jobs of 15 Olympic Athletes
Some lucky Olympic athletes manage to pay the bills with sponsorships and speaking fees. Others have to work day jobs to pay their expenses—or they simply like their careers, and don’t want to sacrifice them for the love of the game. In honor of the 2016 Rio Games, here are the sometimes-surprising day jobs of 15 Olympians, past and present:
1. LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER LANNI MARCHANT // LAWYER
Thirty-two-year-old long-distance runner Lanni Marchant is known as Canada's fastest female marathoner. Naturally, she’s competing in the women’s marathon and the women’s 10,000-meter race at the 2016 Summer Games. But when she’s not pounding the pavement, Marchant—who grew up in London, Ontario, but currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she went to college—can be found arguing in a courtroom: She’s a practicing criminal defense attorney for a law firm.
2. BOBSLEDDER JOHN JAMES JACKSON // FITNESS INSTRUCTOR FOR THE U.K. ROYAL MARINES
British bobsledder John James Jackson helped his four-man crew place fifth at Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games. When he’s not twisting down icy tracks in a sled, he serves as an All Arms Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Marines, the United Kingdom's amphibious light infantry force.
3. SPEEDSKATER TRAVIS JAYNER // BELLHOP AND VALET ASSISTANT
Canadian-born short track speedskater Travis Jayner—who has dual citizenship with his native country and the U.S.— competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a member of the U.S. Olympic team. He won the bronze—but to make ends meet in following years, he worked as a bellhop and valet assistant at the Waldorf-Astoria in Park City, Utah.
4. JUDO FIGHTER CHI YIP CHEUNG // FIREMAN
Chinese judo fighter Chi Yip Cheung competed in the men's 73 kg event at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. When he’s not on the mat, he works full-time as a fireman.
5. CURLER PETE FENSON // PIZZA RESTAURANT OWNER
American curler Pete Fenson, who hails from Bemidji, Minnesota, helped his U.S. team win the bronze medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics—the nation’s first Olympic medal in the sport. He owns a small, family-run pizza restaurant chain called Dave's Pizza in Minnesota.
6. TAEKWONDO FIGHTER RAHELEH ASEMANI // POSTWOMAN
Raheleh Asemani, 27, is an Iranian-born taekwondo athlete who moved to Belgium three years ago as a refugee. Last winter, she was one of 16 athletes who earned a spot at the Rio Olympics in the European qualification tournament in Istanbul. Asemani was initially supposed to compete on this year's International Olympic Committee's refugee team—but since she recently gained Belgian citizenship, she’s competing for Belgium at the Rio games. When she’s not competing, she works as a postwoman and delivers letters.
7. TRIATHLETE GWEN JORGENSEN // ACCOUNTANT
In 2011, U.S. triathlete Gwen Jorgensen qualified for the 2012 London Olympics—less than two short years after completing her first triathlon. Sadly, Jorgensen placed only 38th after getting a flat tire on her bike. This summer, she gets a do-over: She’s competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and is considered to be America’s best shot at winning the country’s first gold medal in triathalon.
Jorgensen is currently sponsored by multiple companies, and much of her income consists of prize money. But before she qualified for the United States National Triathlon Team for the 2012 Olympics, she worked as an accountant for Ernst and Young. She later left the company to focus on her sport full-time, and today, she’s ranked number three in the world.
8. HIGH JUMPER ARIANE FRIEDRICH // POLICE OFFICER
German high jumper Ariane Friedrich competed in both the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Sadly, a knee injury prevented her from participating in the Rio games. However, she also has a second profession to support herself with: She’s a trained police officer.
9. HIGH JUMPER AMY ACUFF // APP DEVELOPER, ACUPUNCTURIST
American high jumper Amy Acuff, 41, participated in five summer Olympic Games—1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012—as a member of USA Track and Field. But when she didn’t make the finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she decided to cheer herself up by pursuing a side passion: computer programming.
First, Acuff created an app that located vaccines for kids. Later, she focused on making video analysis tools, and founded her own company, Winning Edge Apps. One of Acuff’s most recent offerings has been iAnalyze, an iOS app that provides users with “an in-depth video analysis of sports video clips."
10. ALPINE SKIER HUBERTUS VON HOHENLOHE // PHOTOGRAPHER, POP SINGER (AND PRINCE)
Mexican Alpine skier Hubertus Von Hohenlohe—who NBC named the "Most Interesting Olympian in the World" when he competed in the 2014 Sochi Games as a member of Mexico’s team—has participated in six Winter Olympics. When he’s not hitting the slopes, von Hohenlohe is a photographer and a pop musician who’s released several albums. Fun fact: At 57, the athlete is also history’s second-oldest winter Olympian—and he’s a German prince. (His parents are Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Ira of Fürstenberg.)
11. SWIMMER MAYA DIRADO // SOON-TO-BE MCKINSEY & CO BUSINESS ANALYST
Swimmer Maya DiRado got a job as a business analyst at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. shortly after graduating from Stanford University in 2014. She deferred the position for two years to train for Rio—but once the games wrap up, she’ll start at McKinsey in September.
12. SPEED SKATER DEREK PARRA // ASSOCIATE AT HOME DEPOT
At the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, speed skater Derek Parra won gold in the 1500-meter race and silver in the 5000. To pay the bills, he worked at Home Depot while he wasn’t training. Parra received the position through the U.S. Olympic Committee's Olympic Job Opportunities Program, which provides athletes with full-time salary and benefits for working 20 flexible hours per week.
13. FIELD HOCKEY PLAYER JUSTIN REID-ROSS // RECENT MASTER'S PROGRAM GRADUATE
South African field hockey player Justin Reid-Ross, who competed for the men’s tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics, recently completed a master’s degree in sports management at Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam.
14. RUGBY PLAYER NATHALIE MARCHINO // WORKS IN SALES AT TWITTER
Olympic rugby player Nathalie Marchino, 35, is competing for her birth country, Colombia, at the Rio games. To prepare, Marchino recently took a five-month leave of absence from her day job: working in sales at Twitter.
15. FENCER GEREK MEINHARDT // RISK ANALYTICS CONSULTANT AT DELOITTE & TOUCHE
Last year, Gerek Meinhardt—a fencer and two-time Olympian—trained for the Rio Olympics for two hours every morning before heading to his day job as a risk analytics consultant at Deloitte & Touche LLP in San Francisco. In the evening, Meinhardt would practice even more at a fencing gym. He says that Rio will be his last Olympics—after the games end, he plans to return to Deloitte full-time.