With just eight months to go before the Winter Olympics, two-time Olympic hurdler LoLo Jones posted a Vine video on Monday jokingly complaining about her $741.84 check from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, which decides pay based on performance results.
“Several months with bobsled season. The whole season. That’s it. I’m going to be a little late on my rent this month,” Jones wrote.
Fellow bobsledder Steven Holcomb called Jones’ comments “a slap in the face.”
“It wasn’t taken very well,” he told USA Today. “People were really kind of insulted. You just made $741, more than most athletes in the sport. So what are you complaining about? The way it came across to a lot of the athletes here was kind of snobby because she’s one of the most well-known athletes in the world and she’s making pretty good money in endorsements. And to basically turn around and slap us in the face because you didn’t make any money this year in bobsledding while taking money from other athletes? She slapped pretty much every athlete in the U.S. federation in the face. That was the general consensus.”
Jones attempted some damage control Monday night, explaining how the Vine was meant to draw attention to the larger issue at hand. “I didn’t want to offend anyone, and I’ve always wanted to help out my bobsled teammates,” a statement from Jones read. “Some of them have debt because they’ve given their life to the sport. My partner Jazmine [Fenlator] and I had to raise money for the bobsled to be funded just to finish the season, because only two of the three sleds are funded by the team. I can’t imagine halfway through my track season having to stop and raise money to finish.
“The Vine of the paycheck is just showing the difference between track and bobsled, and to be honest, bobsledders work more hours than track! The bottom line is that all Olympic athletes dedicate their lives to their sports and do not receive lucrative paychecks like athletes in mainstream professional sports. So hopefully this will make people appreciate just how hard Olympians work, often just for the love of the sport,” Jones concluded.
While many bobsledders were still rankled by Jones’ comments, one of her teammates, Elana Meyers, was grateful that Jones put the issue out there. “thanks for bringing the issues to light! Bobsledders aren’t high paid pro athletes like you see on tv,” Meyers tweeted.