Images: Vladimir Filonov / MT
The Russian Olympians Foundation presented Russian Olympic medalists with Audis on Wednesday following a closed ceremony in the Kremlin hosted by President Vladimir Putin.
In addition to their cash prizes, Olympic medalists in Russia were presented with new luxury cars and posed for photos beside the St. Basil’s Cathedral as cheering fans watched from the sidelines.
The Russian Olympians Foundation is financed by 15 of the country’s wealthiest businesspeople, including Russia’s wealthiest man, Alisher Usmanov and tycoons Roman Abramovich, Viktor Vekselberg and Oleg Deripaska. They presented the athletes with 129 black Audis and 129 hired drivers at a showing in Red Square.
Gold medalists received Audi A8s ($120,000), silver medalists received A7s ($75,000) and bronze winners got A6s ($50,000).
According to Alexander Katushev, the fund’s executive director, “A fine athlete in a crappy car is like a beauty girl who cusses. The exterior doesn’t match the interior, and this won’t do.” He would not disclose what the fun paid for the cars, but he did say that they required them through an open tender at a “significant discount.”
One of the youngest medalists, gymnast Alina Makarenko, 17, does not yet have her driver’s license, so she said her mother will drive the A8 until she gets her license.
In total, Russia left the Olympics with a total medal count of 82, including 24 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 32 bronze medals.