Career Advice, Watercooler

9 Olympians with Inspiring (and Surprising!) Side Hustles

Decathlete Ashton Eaton competing in high jump

Starting this week in Rio de Janiero, over 10,000 athletes from 206 countries will compete for 4,924 medals across 42 sports. Each Olympic athlete has spent countless hours, days, weeks, months and even years preparing for the chance to represent their country on the world’s biggest sports’ stage. However, like the rest of us, many of these stellar sports figures have a side hustle that supports their gold medal dreams and provides for their families.

In fact, the International Olympic Committee runs the Athlete Career Program (IOC ACP), which provides resources and training to elite athletes—including 63 of the 2016 US Olympians—in the areas of education, life skills and employment. From job placement to assistance with translating their training regimen into a marketable resume job skill (plus cool, downloadable worksheets!), the ACP ensures that athletes aren’t just preparing for the Games, but also for the rest of their lives.

Dreading going to the office tomorrow? Just think of the tireless work these 9 Olympians are putting in. Read their stories and get inspired.

Boris Berian (Runner & Fast-food Worker)
Qualified 800-meter race for the 2016 Rio games, Boris Berian went from working at McDonald’s during the day to training at night. After dropping out of college at Adams State University in Colorado, Berian faced incredible odds and a bevy of doubters but that didn’t stop him. Sleeping on a friends couch until recently, the now 23-year-old is gearing up to run the biggest race of his life in Rio as a spokesperson for New Balance. No more flipping burgers.

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Heather Stanning (Rower & Army Officer)
After bringing home the Gold at the London Olympics in 2012, rower Heather Stanning went back to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, to serve as an operations manager of an unmanned surveillance unit. You read that right. Stanning is not just a gold medal winning Olympian but also an officer in Britain’s Royal Artillery. ”Having a year away really solidified in my mind that I wanted to carry on to Rio,” Stanning tells ESPN. “I wanted to come back into the team,” she says and this month she’ll get to prove that women can, in fact, do it all.

Serena Williams (Tennis champ & Fashion Designer)
Serena Williams will be defending a gold medal in singles and a gold medal in doubles with her sister, Venus, when she returns to the Olympics this month. But when she’s not dominating on the court earning 21 Grand Slam titles, the youngest Williams’ sister can be seen selling her sporty chic clothing on HSN. From leggings to sweaters, Serena’s designs have contributed to her $28.9 million dollar earnings in 2016, according to Forbes. With endorsement deals from Nike and Piaget to a starring role in Beyonce’s highly acclaimed “Lemonade” visual album, Serena has got plenty of side hustles to keep her busy when she’s not acing her opponents.

Oksana Chusovitina (Gymnast & Care Taker)
Defying the odds, Oksana Chusovitina is competing her seventh Olympics. That’s right, her seventh. At 41-years-old, she is the oldest female gymnast at the Summer Games in Rio, as well as the oldest female gymnast in Olympic history. In fact, the majority of her fellow gymnasts had not even been born when Oksana became a two-time world champion in 1991. In 1992, she won a team gold. Later, she competed for Uzbekistan. But in 2002, her allegiance shifted when her son, Alisher, was found to have leukemia at the age of 3. Ever since, she has committed to two very demanding jobs: gymnastics and caring for her dependent son. According to Elle, after waking up at 7 A.M. to get her son ready for school, she goes to the gym for an hour of conditioning. Then it’s back home to give Alisher lunch, and to the gym again for another two-hours of vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Her German manager, Michael Fabig, says, “I don’t think she’ll ever retire.”

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Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencer & Ambassador & Fashion Designer)
The Duke University grad is slicing through stereotypes as a sabre fencers and member of the US fencing team. She is the first U.S. athlete to compete in the games in a hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. The daughter of a teacher and a police officer has also been very vocal about state of Islam and Islamophobia in the U.S. and is an ambassador for the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative. When she’s not blazing trails, Ibtihaj is an entrepreneur, founding the modest-fashion label Louella to broaden the stylish options for Muslim women.

Shaun White (Snowboarder & Skateboarder & Entrepreneur & Band Leader)
Known for his curly carrot top and infectious personality, Shaun White is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and winner of 23 Winter and Summer X Games medals. But when he’s not busy being a professional snowboarder and skateboarder, he is also an entrepreneur. White recently launched a new clothing line called WHT SPACE, in partnership with Macy’s. The guy affectionately dubbed “the Flying Tomato” also has his own video game and endorsements, including Target, Burton and Oakley. The side gig he’s most pumped about? His rock band, Bad Things. After performing on the main stage of 2013’s Lollapalooza, he can officially call himself a guitarist.

Gwen Jorgensen (Triathlete & Tax Accountant)
No athlete plans to fall short of medalling, but for triathlete Gwen Jorgensen there’s a cushy job waiting for her if Rio doesn’t fare well. Then again, Gwen is a favorite to bring home gold on August 20. Therefore it’s unlikely that she’ll return to her job as an accountant at Ernst & Young in Milwaukee. Early on she worked full-time at the start of her career as a triathlete, then E&Y allowed her to scale back her office time as she became more proficient. But as soon as she became the first American to win back-to-back world triathlon titles, parlaying her masters degree and CPA became less and less important. Sorry, Uncle Sam. This Wisconsin native is setting aside her calculator for another medal.

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Katelin Snyder (Rower & Coach & Bride-to-Be)
The current world record holder and Olympic Team member for the USA rowing team, Katelin Snyder also doubles as the a coach for the Princeton National Rowing Association. Not to mention she’s got a “third job” that will certainly demand a majority of her time. Kathleen and Nareg Guregian, who is also competing at the summer games in Rio de Janeiro, are engaged — and planning to get married four months after the Olympics. The wedding planning bride is juggling seating arrangements, shaving seconds off of her best time and strategizing on her next move. Talk about a multi-tasker.

Ashton Eaton (Decathlete & Social Media Entrepreneur)

Anyone who can compete over two consecutive days in ten events has an insane ability to multitask. World record holder and Rio decathlete Ashton Eaton is precisely the kind of guy who can discus throw, shot put, run 400 meters and then ask “What’s next?” So when he was looking for a new professional challenge, he headed to the Internet to launch a unique social media campaign “#WhatsYourGold?” “In the Olympic year we thought, ‘Well, athletes go after gold medals but that doesn’t mean we’re the only ones that have to,'” explains Eaton. “So we thought of asking everyone ‘What’s your gold?’ And it doesn’t have to be athletic. And the contest is somebody tells us what their gold is, and for three months they take us on a journey to it.” From motivational speaking tours to sharing inspiring videos of his training, Eaton encourages the masses to ‘go for the gold’ in their own lives.

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