Lolo Jones: Video rant about her $741 paycheck backfires (+ video)
Lolo Jones: Her Vine video mocking her paltry paycheck for her bobsledding training has unintentionally put the focus on why Lolo Jones makes the big bucks from endorsements.
On Monday, American track and field runner turned bobsledder Lolo Jones tweeted a Vine video that mocked her paltry bobsledding paycheck: $741.84, for seven months of training. It was a move intended to advocate for higher earnings for bobsledders, who are underpaid relative to track and field athletes, she says.Skip to next paragraph
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But the video also unintentionally turned attention on arbitrary differences in earnings between celebrity athletes and their more-under-the-radar counterparts.
"Seven months with bobsled season. The whole season. That's it," Ms. Jones said in the video. Then, pretending to talk to her landlord on the phone: "I’m sorry, I’m just calling because I'm going to be a little late on my rent this month."
That video, which next zooms in on Ms. Jones’ $741.84 check, has not been well received, especially in the small bobsledding world. American bobsledder Steven Holcomb, the most accomplished bobsledder in U.S. history and an Olympic gold medalist, told USA Today that her video was “a slap in the face.”
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"People were really kind of insulted,” he said. “You just made $741, more than most athletes in the sport. So what are you complaining about?"
Other bobsledders reacted similarly: Ms. Jones, they said, had joined a sport not known for its paychecks, but where athletes slide “for the love of the game.” Since the check in the video came from the international bobsled federation, which gives the money to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation to divide up among the athletes based on competition results, the athletes also accused her of being downright spoiled, claiming more than owned to her as a relatively undecorated newcomer in the sport.
Mr. Holcomb received about $3,000 from the federation, plus a $2,000 a month athlete stipend for which Ms. Jones is not currently eligible, as she is not yet one of the top performers in the sport, according to USA Today. Mr. Holcomb has been in and out of debt as a bobsledder, he told that paper.
In a statement released through Red Bull, one of her sponsors, Ms. Jones defended the Vine video as calling attention to the disparity between the paychecks of much-watched sports, like track and field, and sports like bobsledders, which pull in fewer viewers and less endorsements.
"The vine of the paycheck is just showing the difference between track and bobsled, and to be honest bobsledders work more hours than track,” she said. “The bottom line is that all Olympic athletes dedicate their lives to their sports and do not receive lucrative paychecks like athletes in mainstream professional sports. So hopefully this will make people appreciate just how hard Olympians work, often just for the love of the sport."