Closing The Gap

Olympian Lindsey Vonn: The wage gap in professional skiing is 'severe'

Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn
Shaun Botterill | Getty Images
Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn

On average, women earn less than men in nearly every single occupation out there. Skiing is no exception.

Getting paid to ski is already "very, very difficult," four-time U.S. Olympian Lindsey Vonn tells Maverick Carter in an episode of "Kneading Dough." "If you are not in the top five or 10 in the world, you are struggling to not have to get a second job."

It's even harder for women. While the prize money for races is the same, men in her field make significantly more than women, the downhill skier says: "All of our contracts are confidential, but I roughly know how much the men make and how much the women make. It is a pretty severe gap."

The gap exists beyond skiing. Of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world in 2017, only one was a woman: tennis legend Serena Williams, who ranked as the 51st highest-paid athlete.

The pay gap is particularly glaring in certain sports, like soccer. For the last World Cup, FIFA "handed out $15 million for the women's World Cup and $576 million for the men's, an amount almost 40 times larger," BBC reports. "And while former England captain Wayne Rooney took home a massive $400,000 a week, the wages of his female counterpart, Steph Houghton, were meager in comparison: around $1,600 a week."

As for basketball, "the highest-paid player in the WNBA makes roughly one-fifth that of the lowest-paid player in the NBA," Newsweek finds.

For Vonn, who has three Olympic medals and four World Cup overall titles, the big money is made from lucrative endorsements. She has signed on with Red Bull, Rolex, GoPro and Under Armour, among others, and is worth an estimated $3 million.

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

And while the 33-year-old athlete has said that the 2018 Pyeongchang games was her last Olympics, she's not done competing. Vonn is the best women's ski racer in history, with more World Cup victories than any other woman, but wants to be the winningest skier of all time.

She tells Carter, "I literally am not going to stop skiing until I reach that mark, because I don't like being the best female. I really don't. I want to be the best of all time. Period."

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