Adam Rippon on Just How Famous You Have to Be to Make a Living as a Figure Skater
Money Talks, and so should we. Here, powerful people get real about their spending and saving habits.
Adam Rippon landed right in the middle of the world’s stage when he represented the United States as a figure skater in the 2018 Winter Olympics, and glided right into our hearts. Not only that, but his Pyeongchang performance ended up winning him a bronze medal as part of the US team, and making him the first openly gay athlete to win a medal at any winter Olympics. Then, Rippon announced that he would be retiring from professional skating.
He hasn't completely hung up his skates, though — now he’s bringing the joy of figure skating to others. In his talkshow-style YouTube series Break The Ice, Rippon teaches celebrity guests and skater friends — including Gus Kenworthy and Todrick Hall — how to do some fun ice-dancing moves, as they discuss pop culture and more. Another point of order post-retirement was to bring home another victory. So, Rippon went on to win season 26 of Dancing With The Stars. To finish the routine strong, Rippon has written a memoir, Beautiful on the Outside, which is set to be released in October of this year.
For his most recent endeavor, Rippon partnered with Moët & Chandon for its new line of Champagne, Moët Ice Impérial, for which he designed a signature cocktail. “It’s the first Champagne designed to be served over ice, and since I’ve spent a lot of my life over ice, it just made sense,” Rippon tells InStyle.
Here, he talks about his first job, money management, and just how successful you’ve got to be to make a living as a pro skater. (Hint: It's not always as glamorous as he makes it look.)
On his first job… “My first job was teaching group classes at the rink I was skating at when I was a little younger. I’d say I was about 17 and it was very inconsistent. Then, I was lucky enough that skating and performing then became my job full time. Though, sometimes it was up and down. There was a time when I wasn’t doing the best in competitions, so I would coach a lot more.”
On how much money professional skaters make... "The really tough thing in the skating world is: if you’re ranked in the top six in the world, you can live comfortably. If you’re in the top three, you can make a lot of good money. But if you’re out of that top six, it’s almost you’re like you’re just...skating by. I was lucky enough that the last two years of my skating career, I was in the top six range. So I was making enough to buy nice costumes for myself, live well, and pay everyone on time.”
On the business of skating… "When you’re doing really well, it’s great. But if you’re not ranked amongst the best in the world, you’ve got to really hustle. You’ve gotta work as a coach or have a different job on the side. It can be a lot of work and I know it very well; I was teaching lessons just so I could pay for my own lessons.”
On his favorite maintenance spending... "My nails and eyebrows. I have the same people who always see me. I usually get anxiety thinking about sitting around for an hour, but there [at the salon] I feel like I could run out if I had to.”
On doing his own taxes... “I used to. This is my first year I didn’t do my own taxes. When you’re a figure skater, it’s pretty easy, because all you have is a million expenses. It’s not like, ‘I have to hide this in a Swiss bank account.' As figure skaters, we’re never there or at that level, so it was easy. All I had to do was put together some of my coaching bills and that was where I put every dollar I made. This year was the first year I made good money. I didn’t know what I could deduct, I didn’t have costumes or lessons to pay for. So I got set up with an accountant because I didn’t wanna be like one of those who is like, ‘I won the lottery!’ cause I know those b—s end up poor."
On building credit... "I only have two [credit cards]. I’ll tell you why, because when I opened a bank account [with my mom], I didn’t have a good credit score. I had a credit card with my mom when I was 17 and I never used it. When I was 21, she canceled the credit card and took my name off it. It was my only and longest form of credit. So I had no credit and I needed to build it up. I got something that had a $800 spending limit. I only very recently increased it.”
On the value of a "Love Yourself" splurge... "I don’t have really have the desire to run out and buy myself a bunch of new things. But I broke my foot about a year before the Olympics and I really wanted a Cartier love bracelet. Since I wasn’t skating, I didn’t have coaches and ice time to pay for. So all the money I had saved up to pay for all my coaching, I just had it and I was like, ‘Why save it when I can wear it?’ So I bought the bracelet. You’re supposed to have someone you love screw it on for you if they love you. But I bought it for myself, so I just put it between my thighs and I screwed it on myself. You know what? Love yourself.”