Russian Olympic athletes who medaled in the 2014 Sochi games were surprised with huge cash prizes and a brand, spanking new Mercedes!

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Russia gave all of its gold medalists in the Sochi Games $120,000, plus a brand-new Mercedes GL SUV. This led to a bit of logistical leapfrogging with athletes like Julia Lipnitskaya, who is only 15 and not yet of legal driving age in Russia. (She got a personal driver to go along with the car.) Silver medalists got $76,000 and a Mercedes ML, and bronze medalists got $52,000 and a Mercedes GLK.

A total of 45 cars were distributed to gold medalists. Russia won a Sochi-leading total of 33 medals, including 13 golds. The cars were provided by the Russian Olympians Foundation, a consortium established by Russian businessmen in 2005. Russian athletes who won medals in the 2012 London Games received new Audis with personal drivers.

For comparison’s sake, the United States Olympic Committee pays its winners $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze medal. Kazakhstan leads the medal payment rate at $250,000 for a gold, but has not had a gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in 20 years.

 
Of course, not all athletes benefit quite so handsomely. Dario Cologna of Switzerland won two golds in cross-country skiing. His reward from his hometown? A pig, which he named “Sochi.” source

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