The 28-year-old, who became the oldest U.S. figure-skating Olympic rookie since 1936, did just that. After missing out on the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, his hard work not only qualified him for Pyeongchang, but it landed him on the podium. His performance in the team event last week helped the United States claim a bronze medal.
Rippon isn't the only Olympian who has felt stretched thin financially. A handful of Olympic athletes rely on part-time jobs or crowdfunding to cover costs. As NerdWallet reports, two-time Olympic cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen worked as a nanny early in her skiing career, and freestyle skier Jaelin Kauf has supplemented her income by cleaning houses and bussing restaurant tables.
While local sponsors may support the underdogs and athletes who haven't medaled, the biggest endorsement deals typically just go to the top one or two competitors in each sport — headliners like Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn.
As Rippon told CNBC, he came into the Winter Games without any major sponsors. When Ross Sorkin asked if he had any favorite companies or sponsors he had his eye on, Rippon responded: "I love money."
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