Millionaire Video Gamers Are About to Be Olympians, Too

Playing sports on a screen could earn you a gold medal.

Since ancient times, the Olympic Games have been about feats of physical and mental strength with events designed to test the limits of human athleticism. The world watches every two years to cheer for the best and brightest in competitions of artistry and technique, but the world could soon be cheering for people playing video games at the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee, the governing body of the modern Olympics, and the Global Association of International Sports Federations will convene later this month in Switzerland at a forum to discuss the potential for a collaboration involving esports.

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At this upcoming forum, the powers that be will “explore synergies, build joint understanding and set a platform for future engagement between the esports and gaming industries and the Olympic Movement,” according to a statement from the IOC.

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Once considered a niche space reserved for gamers, esports is becoming more mainstream and has caught the attention of the IOC. There is an expected global audience of 380 million this year, according to a report from Newzoo, a global leader in esports — compare that to the 103.4 million Americans who tuned in to watch the 2018 Super Bowl. Currently valued at $905.6 million, it’s estimated that the esports industry will reach $1.4 billion by 2020.

As with any sector, top talent garners top dollar. Elite esports athletes are reaping the benefits of their talents in the form of lucrative sponsorship deals to cover expenses like living costs, tournament fees and coaches. Here are the five highest-earning players on the professional esports circuit who are earning money hand over fist:

Player name: Kuro Takhasomi

  • Total overall earnings: $3,740,477
  • Age: 25
  • Nation: Germany

Player name: Amer Al-Barkawi

  • Total overall earnings: $3,313,886
  • Age: 21
  • Nation: Jordan

Player name: Ivan Ivanov

  • Total overall earnings: $3,080,961
  • Age: 23
  • Nation: Bulgaria

Player name: Lasse Urpalainen

  • Total overall earnings: $3,080,665
  • Age: 23
  • Nation: Finland

Player name: Saahil Arora

  • Total overall earnings: $2,996,603
  • Age: 28
  • Nation: USA

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To these top esports competitors, an Olympic medal, although it comes with great honor and significance, might feel trivial and ornamental compared to the millions they make in prize money at esports tournaments. But that wouldn’t stop this growing industry from shaking up the Olympics.

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