To no one’s surprise, the 2016 Rio Olympics were very good for NBC advertising. While audience and rating numbers were about 15% below the London games, NBC generated significantly more ad revenue and profit in Rio. I’ll leave the implications of lower ratings but higher fees to the media planners, but overall there was a lot money made during the Rio broadcast, with NBC reportedly earning $250 million in profit off of $1.2 billion in ad revenue.

So how did all that advertising compare to the earned media values of Olympic athletes? We look at just 15 of the thousands of Rio participants to see how their media values — the monetized value of their coverage in print, broadcast, and online earned media  — compare to the $250 million NBC earned at the 2016 Games. The list is far from complete, but these athletes represent the top 15 media value earners during the August Olympic media period. We also include their July values given the run-up coverage in the news.

Some highlights:

  • The total media value for our 15 Olympians came in at $202 million for the 2 month period (July/August 2016).
  • Ryan Lochte just edged out Usain Bolt for the #1 spot, earning $62 million in media value vs. Bolt’s $61 million.
  • The most decorated Olympian in the history of the Games, Michael Phelps, ended the 2-month period with a robust $22 million.
  • When it came to the top female media values there was no surprise in Simone Biles earning ~$14 million, just above the already top media athlete Serena Williams at $13 million.

The table below provides the July/August media values. (Detailed analytics on the entire Olympic Athlete sector are available by subscription via our analytic dashboards. At $202 million, the earned media value for just the top-15 media value earners came in darn close to NBC’s record profit from Olympic coverage!

Athlete Media Value for July & August 2016 Endorsements
NBC Advertising Revenue vs. Earned Media at Rio Ryan Lochte $62,185,015 Speedo, Ralph Lauren
Usain Bolt $61,282,863 Puma, Hublot, Virgin Media, Gatorade, Visa, Nissan, Comcast, Samsung
Michael Phelps $22,298,626 Under Armor, Omega,Aqua Sphere, Sol Republic
Simone Biles $13,801,364 Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, United Airlines, Nike, Hershey’s
Serena Williams $12,684,249 Nike, Gatorade
Andy Murray $10,427,897 Under Armor, Standard Life, RADO, Jaguar, Head
  Katie Ledecky $6,169,307 None (college attendance)
  Kevin Durant $4,316,479 Nike, Beats By Dre, American Family Insurance, Sonic, Panini
  Gabby Douglas $2,194,804 Procter & Gamble (Olay, Covergirl, Pantene), Kellogg’s
  Venus Williams $1,842,007 Nike, Wilson, Gatorade
  Carmelo Anthony $1,687,831 Jordan/Nike,SMS Audio, Panini, Draft Kings, Las Vegas Sands
  Justin Gatlin $1,536,725 Nike, Crisper (restaurant chain)
  Kerri Walsh $1,017,781 Speedo, Gatorade, Sirrus,Halls,Wilson,Visa,Bolle
  Mark Cavendish $598,835 Nike, Jaguar, Oakley
  Marta Vieira da Silva $230,291 Coca-Cola
15 Athlete Total Media Value $202,274,074