In the immediate aftermath of the Rio 2016 Olympics, Russian president Vladimir Putin awarded each Olympic medalist from the national team with a brand new BMW and a cash prize of over 1 million rubles (approx. $15,600).
It is a tradition of gift-giving that seemingly rewards the athlete for their service to the nation, though it is also an attempted display of power and financial stability from the government.
That is until the Olympians begin to liquidate their gifts.
Last week, two-time Olympic silver medalist swimmer Yulia Efimova opted to sell her BMW X4 to help fund a real estate purchase in Russia.
“Julia has decided to sell the car for two reasons,” Efimova’s agent, Anna Mitkovo told Russian state outlet TASS.ru. “Firstly, she already has one car (Audi A6), given to her for a successful performance at the Olympic Games in London, She uses it only when she is in Russia, specifically Volgodonsk . Secondly, Julia is planning to purchase real estate in Moscow, which needs substantial funds and a prize is not enough.”
Efimova, who came under fire during the Rio Games for her past doping suspension, is only the latest in a series of Olympians to sell their gifted vehicles. Most amateur athletes do not have the lifestyle to maintain those luxurious cars and are far more concerned with securing their futures. Despite this fact, the Russian government preferred expensive cars over improved resources and structures for their athletes.
After all, which presents the more prestigious image?