There’s no doubt about it — Missy Franklin is a completely brilliant swimmer! Not only did she win a gold medal 100m backstroke but she did it almost immediately after qualifying in the 200m freestyle. But, the part of her story that I keep coming back to has me questioning how brilliant she (and her parents!) are with financial decisions.
At just 17-years-old, Missy is already one of the world’s best swimmers. She’s won several races on the world stage, even before the Olympics. But, here’s the kicker — she has turned down every, last penny in prize and endorsement money, so far totally more than $100,000.
Missy wants to maintain her amateur status to continue racing with her high school team and intends to swim with the NCAA in a few years. Her parents have been supportive, sitting down with her to discuss the reality of the decision, but I have to ask — have they really thought it all the way through?
She’s coming home an Olympic champion. How does a high school swim meet compete with that?
I get that she wants the high school experience — and she feels her swim team is an important part of it. But, at what cost to her future? In a 4-day period last year, she earned and refused $73,000 through swimming. $73,000. I can promise there was nothing in my high school years worth that kind of money.
So, she finishes high school. She swims in college. Then, what? Probably she gets a scholarship. Maybe she graduates without student loan debt. But, she won’t have $73,000 in the bank.
Teens are very now oriented. They don’t see the bigger picture. They never imagine that what they are right now could ever be really change. The talent, strength, and health Missy has right now is just a given to her at this age.
But, what if it’s not forever? Anything can happen in a competitive world like this, and it seems crazy to shrug off the opportunities she has right now. If my own teen ever had a shot at $100K? We’d be banking that check for her college fund before she even had a chance to blink.
What would you do?
Photo Credit: Tax Credits