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Russian Olympic medalists receive luxury cars

Feb 27, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT

Tatyana Volosozhar, Maksim Trankov Getty Images

The newest Russian Olympic medalists will be quite conspicuous if they put their latest prizes to use.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev handed out keys to a fleet of white Mercedes-Benz cars to 44 medalists next to Red Square in Moscow on Thursday, according to reports.

Three different classes of cars were offered for the three medal colors. They were adorned with the Russian Olympic Team logo, assuring they will stand out on the roads.

“I was a bit shocked at the car I was given,” gold medalist biathlete Anton Shipulin said, according to R-Sport. “Of course I knew what kind of model it would be, but I didn’t totally believe it.”

There are some issues though, some of which were cleared up in reports out of Moscow.

The minimum driving age for cars in Russia is 18. Figure skating champions Yuliya Lipnitskaya and Adelina Sotnikova are 15 and 17, respectively. Those without licenses also received a paid-for driver, according to The Associated Press.

R-Sport reported that Medvedev congratulated 44 medalists and distributed the keys. But 49 different Russian athletes won medals in Sochi.

Also, what about athletes who won multiple medals, such as short track speed skater Viktor Ahn, who won three golds and one bronze? Do they get anything extra for their efforts?

The cars came on top of cash prizes. Gold medalists received $120,000, silver medalists $76,000 and bronze medalists $52,000, according to R-Sport.

Russia won 13 golds and 33 total medals, becoming the first Winter Olympic host nation to lead gold- and total-medal counts since Norway in 1952.

In 2010, medalists also received cars, according to R-Sport. Russia won three golds and 15 total four years ago.

The old Soviet Union used to reward its medalists with apartments, such as gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 career Olympic medals.

U.S. Olympic champions on New York talk show circuit

  1. fnc111 - Feb 27, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    I hope Obama bombs Russia.

  2. sailbum7 - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    The Russians are extremely generous to their medalists, but definitely not the most generous. I wonder if the drivers for the two that are under the driving age are paid for until they can get their own license? The honor for the highest payouts goes to Azerbaijan which pays $510,000, $255,000, and $130,000 for a gold, but since no one from the country won any medals this is only theoretical. Second on the list, and the higest with an actual medal winner (one bronze), is Kazakhstan which pays out $250,000, $150,000, and $75,000 respectively for gold, silver, and bronze. The US only gives medalists $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 respectively for each medal – and they of course have to pay income taxes on that money. Then you have countries like the UK, Sweden, and Norway that pay nothing.

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