How much is a British gold medal worth? £2m

Home athletes on the podium will earn riches beyond their wildest dreams from sponsors, TV shows and a host of other deals

As 2012 beckons, the dense fog of economic gloom shows no signs of lifting, so there's fat chance of a happy and prosperous New Year for most citizens of Great Britain. Though not for all. Those with winners' medals draped around their necks at the London Olympics will not only be enveloped by great happiness, but assured of considerable prosperity.

More than ever before, these Games will enrich victorious British competitors beyond their wildest imagination. Not from actual prize money, of course. But when they step up to that rostrum they will be standing on a gold mine of sponsorships and endorsements, TV adverts and shows, speaking engagements and newspaper columns.

Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Ennis, Rebecca Adlington, Ben Ainslie, Mark Cavendish, Mo Farah, Tom Daley, Phillips Idowu, Keri-Anne Payne and Dai Greene are leading contenders for the gold standard. And to borrow a phrase from Del Boy, this time next year they could all be millionaires – if some aren't already.

Hoy's pedal power is believed already to have earned at least a couple of million after his three golds in Beijing which made him the biggest name in cycling. Before 2008 he was earning just £24,000 a year from Lottery grants and small sponsorships. Beijing brought him lucrative deals from Kellogg's, Harrods, Highland Spring, adidas and ScottishPower Renewables.

Swimmer Adlington, who said after Bejing that all she wanted was to buy a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, could follow in the footsteps of Imelda Marcos should she strike double gold again.

Leading sponsorship agency Octagon, whose clients include the marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, estimate some British winners could pick up £2m before Rio 2016. Their vice-president Clifford Bloxham says: "Seven or eight Team GB athletes will be able to command big endorsements after 2012, earning sums on a par with top British stars like Andy Murray and Jenson Button."

No one is suggesting that medal-winners in team events or less popular sports will be millionaires overnight but many will still get nice little earners should they do well. Even practitioners of hockey, taekwondo, canoeing and handball now have managers, PR minders and agents.

But here's a prediction. There is one young man, as yet relatively unknown, who with a little luck – or a lucky punch – can be literally the biggest hit of 2012 and subsequently the highest earner. The aforementioned sums will be chicken feed to what 22-year-old Anthony Joshua will be worth – £5m is the estimate of one promoter – should he become the Olympic super-heavyweight boxing champion. It remains the richest prize in Olympic sport. Ask Audley Harrison: he made a million back in 2000 when he turned pro, without landing a blow. The seven-figure windfall, from licence payers' money courtesy of the BBC, was paid up front, together with another million from a sponsor. It turned out to be money for old rope and, as we know, it all ended in jeers.

Amir Khan also collected a cool couple of million in his initial three-year deal with Frank Warren – and that was only after winning silver at lightweight at Athens 2004. And James DeGale got an instant investment of around £1.5m from the same promoter after his acquisition of the middleweight title at Beijing 2008.

In boxing it is always the big boys who make the big money and, in the Olympic ring, they don't come any bigger than 6ft 6in Joshua, the London-born son of Nigerian parents who has the profile, personality and punch, together with a newly-acquired world amateur silver medal from Baku, where he lost on a hotly-disputed decision to the local Azerbaijani, having beaten the reigning Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle.

Joshua says: "I'm made for the Olympic final. I'm not overwhelmed by the prospect. This is what I am supposed to do. I've not won it yet but I'm heading in the right direction."

His confidence is shared by Rob McCracken, Team GB's boxing chief. "We always knew Anthony was something special but his rate of progress this year, for someone still inexperienced, has been absolutely fantastic. He has every chance of being a star in his hometown Olympics."

Joshua has more heart than Harrison and a better chin than David Haye. When he won the ABA title two years ago he spurned an offer of £50,000 to turn pro, and there was 10 times that incentive on offer after his world silver. But he knows winning gold will make him worth a king's ransom. Or even a Don King's ransom.

Of course the boxing ring is strewn with shattered dreams of wannabes, and that Olympic title is by no means a foregone conclusion, even less the world heavyweight title which understandably is his aspiration.

But of all the potential 2012 achievers hoping to milk London's Olympic cash cow, Joshua seems the one most likely to be worth his weight in gold.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific