Russian gold medallists at the Winter Olympics have each been given a Mercedes-Benz and a cash bonus of $200,000. The custom vehicles are white and carry the logo of the Russian Olympic team. Some of them, such as 15-year-old figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaia or 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova are too young to drive or don't have a licence, but the President has solved the problem by providing each of them with a paid driver.
Before the games it was revealed that Russian athletes were to be awarded with a payment of $113,000 for winning gold, with silver and bronze medallists pocketing $71,000 and $42,000 respectively. It seems that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was so impressed by his athletes' exploits that he has increased the bonus.
The 2014 host nation isn't the only one to offer lavish bonuses to athletes who finish on the podium. Singapore's competitors stood to earn $800,000 for medalling at London 2012, while their bigger neighbour Malaysia had $600,000 on offer for anyone who could get them on to the medals table. Neither country sent athletes to Sochi, nor did they have to give out the top prize in London.
At Sochi, Azerbaijan were offering $510,000 for a gold. but their four athletes could only muster a 53rd place and a 12th place between them. Plenty of countries were offering six-figure sums for success: Italy didn't win any golds this year but Armin Zoeggeler and his buddies were eyeing up $191,000. Australia didn't strike gold this time, but $126,000 was on offer had any Aussie done so.
The United States' 28 medal winners were given a comparatively paltry monetary reward for their efforts. Gold medallists earned a $25,000 bonus, with silver and bronze winners getting $15,000 and $10,000 respectively. Unlike most other countries, the US taxes these winnings, so up to 39.6% will be given to the IRS - a move which has caused a bit of consternation in certain circles.
The Canadians didn't fare much better - Sidney Crosby got $18,000 for his gold in the men's hockey. This is still some way behind the $82,000 Finland were offering its hockey players had they won the top prize - almost twice as much as other Finnish Olympians stood to win.
At least the Americans and Canadians got something - some countries still do not award any prize money for Olympic success, still holding on to the belief that such bonuses run contrary to the amateur ideals of the games. These include Great Britain, whose gold medallists in 2012 were rewarded with having their faces put on postage stamps and by having the postboxes in their hometowns painted gold, and winter games powerhouses Norway (second place with 26 medals in total) and Sweden (a disappointing 14th with 15).