Personal Finance

Even for Lindsey Vonn, it is hard to make money as a woman in skiing

Key Points
  • Olympian Lindsey Vonn credits a slew of endorsement deals for her monetary success.
  • She says her hope is to "get women in ski racing more publicity and give them the push they need to make more money."
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. trains.
Christian Hartmann | Reuters

Even for four-time U.S. Olympic star Lindsey Vonn, making a living from downhill skiing has been an uphill battle.

Vonn decided early on that she would follow in the steps of her idol, Picabo Street.

"She was the first person to make good money off of ski racing," she said.

But despite her success, it hasn't been easy.

"Getting paid through ski racing is very, very difficult, " she said in a conversation with Maverick Carter in an episode of "Kneading Dough," a series by Chase and digital media company Uninterrupted.

"If you are not in the top five or 10 in the world, you are struggling to not have to get a second job," she added.

Although the prize money is roughly the same, Vonn said men in her field make significantly more than women — "it's a pretty severe gap."

Of course, the same is true outside of ski racing. Even when comparing the sexes with the same job title at the same company and using similar education and experience, the gender pay gap persists across the board: Men earned 2.4 percent more than women on average, down slightly from last year, according to a study by salary-tracking website PayScale.

Three-time medalist Lindsey Vonn reflects on likely final Olympics

For Vonn, who has four World Cup championships and raced in more World Cup events than any other American in addition to her Olympic medals, monetary success came in the form of lucrative endorsements.

The superstar athlete has signed on with Red Bull, Rolex, Head and Under Armour among others. (Vonn also earned more than $200,000 in prize money in the 2018 season, according to the International Ski Federation's website.)

"I look at companies that fit my personality, I look at companies that I want to have a long-term relationship with," she said.

Vonn says her hope is to "get women in ski racing more publicity and give them the push they need to make more money."

Although the 33-year-old Vonn said Pyeongchang was her last Olympics, she still has her own career goals too.

"I don't like being the best female, I want to be the best of all time period," she told Carter, "and then I can say I'm the greatest and I don't have to say 'female.'"

"I literally am not going to stop skiing until I reach that mark."

Vonn shared her aspirations for the future and the role money has played in her career in the latest episode of the "Kneading Dough" series. Earlier spots featured tennis great Serena Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar LeBron James and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.

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