Russian Gold Medalists Get $120,000, a Brand New Mercedes

In case you didn't think that the Olympics were just one step away from being a gentler version of The Hunger Games (only injuries, rarely deaths), Russia has made the point much more salient by showering their medalists with money and extravagant prizes. While there's no Victor's village quite yet, athletes who brought home the gold for Mother Russia (this, by the way, is still how my Russian parents refer to it without irony) were given $120,000 and a brand new Mercedes. Olympians who weren't yet old enough to drive (Lipnitskaia, Sotnikova) were given nothing. (JK, they got personal drivers.) Silver and bronze medalists were gifted $76,000 and $52,000, respectively, as well as lower-end Mercedes vehicles. Those who did not place were fed limb by limb to hungry bears.

Providing monetary gifts to Olympic medalists is not limited to Russia. Americans who bring home the gold receive $25,000, but the prize money is heavily taxed.

The real winner, however may just be Dario Cologna of Switzerland, who won two gold medals for cross-country skiing and was rewarded with a pig named "Sochi."

Image via Shutterstock.