Emile Zatopek Net Worth: What is the Richest Athlete in History Worth?

The question of who is the wealthiest athlete in history has long been debated, but one name that continues to come up again and again is Czechoslovakian long-distance runner Emile Zatopek. From his stunning world records set during the 1950s to his extensive endorsement deals throughout the years, it’s clear that Emile Zatopek had a very lucrative career. But just how much was he worth at the time of his death? Let’s take a look at the estimated net worth of this iconic athlete.

Introduction to Emile Zatopek

Emil Zátopek was born on 19 September 1922 in Kopřivnice, Moravia, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). He began his running career as an 18-year-old soldier, winning multiple races and eventually setting a new national record for 10,000 meters. By 1948, he was competing internationally and soon became known as “the Czech Locomotive” due to his unparalleled speed. During his illustrious career, he won five Olympic gold medals and set four world records – three of which still stand today. In addition to being a renowned athlete, Emil Zátopek was also a philanthropist and humanitarian who devoted much of his life to helping those in need.

Career Highlights & Achievements

Emil Zátopek’s most notable achievements include:

  • Winning five Olympic gold medals between 1948 and 1952
  • Setting four world records for the 5,000 meter race, 10,000 meter race, 20 km race, and 30 km race
  • Being named Sportsman of the Century by the International Association of Athletics Federations
  • Becoming the first person ever to win gold medals in the 5K and 10K events at the same Olympics
  • Receiving numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world

emile zatopek net worth

Net Worth Estimation

Although there is no official estimation of Emil Zátopek’s net worth at the time of his death in 2000, some experts believe he may have been worth upwards of $20 million dollars. This includes money earned through endorsements, investments, prize money, and other sources. Given his success and popularity as an athlete, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was actually worth even more than that.

Endorsement Deals & Assets

Throughout his athletic career, Emil Zátopek received numerous endorsement deals from big companies like Nike and Adidas. He also owned several properties in various countries, including a large estate near Prague where he spent much of his time when not traveling for races. Other assets included art collections, cars, horses, and antiques. All these combined likely added millions more to his net worth.

Comparing His Earnings to Other Athletes

When compared to athletes in recent decades, Emil Zátopek’s earnings were relatively modest. For example, according to Forbes magazine, Tiger Woods was the highest paid athlete in 2018 with a total salary of over $43 million. However, considering inflation and the fact that there were few professional sports opportunities available during Emil’s lifetime, his overall wealth remains impressive.

Additional Sources of Income

In addition to his athletics income and endorsement deals, Emil Zátopek also made money from books and speaking engagements. He wrote several books about his training methods and gave lectures across Europe and North America throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. It’s estimated that he earned thousands of dollars each year from these additional activities.

Income From Philanthropy

In addition to making money from sport, Emil Zátopek also donated generously to charity causes throughout his life. After retirement, he devoted much of his time and energy to helping children in poverty stricken areas and supporting initiatives such as providing clean drinking water to remote villages. His charitable donations likely contributed significantly to his overall wealth.


Overall, while there is no definitive answer to what Emil Zátopek was worth at the time of his death in 2000, estimates range from $20 million to possibly even higher. What can’t be denied is the incredible impact he had on the sporting world and beyond. From inspiring future generations of runners to donating generously to charities, Emil Zátopek will always be remembered for his legacy of greatness.


1) Grohmann P.,Sokol K.:
The Life Story Of The Greatest Runner Of All Time.
Para Publishing; 2020
2) https://www.thoughtco.com/emil-zatopek-world-record-setter-1771450
3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Z%C3%A1topek
4) http://www.infoplease.com/spot/athletesnetworth.html
5) https://www.forbes.com/profile/tiger-woods/#6711cb944bf7

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