The Mr. Olympia is widely considered the top bodybuilding competition in the world. It’s held annually by the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB) and has been brought to the masses by Arnold Schwarzenegger from his wins in the ’70s and ’80s.
First held in New York in September 1965 and still running today some 51 years later, the competition has been held around the world over the years, but it seems to have found its permanent home in Las Vegas, where the event has been hosted for the last 17 years.
Contrary to what most people think, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t hold the record for the most wins – that record is shared by Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman, who have each won eight titles. Haney won his titles between 1984 and 1991 and Coleman between 1998 and 2005. (Schwarzenegger won it seven times.)
How much money do Mr. Olympia winners make?
Things have definitely changed over the years at Mr Olympia. Not only are the guys getting bigger but so is the award money – in 1965 Larry Scott received $1000; 10 years later it had risen to $2500. In 1990 it stood at $100,000 and in 2015 Phil Heath received $400,000.
It’s not all about the prize money though – it’s the Olympic games of the bodybuilding world, where winners get maximum exposure, increased sponsorship opportunities and of course bragging rights over everyone else.
What do Mr. Olympia winners do in the offseason?
- Larry Scott (two-time winner) took his $2000 prize money and retired to focus on his family. He raised five kids and set up a personal training company before passing away in March 2014, having succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 75.
- Lee Haney (current most wins, shared with Ronnie Coleman) retired at the age of 31 and used his bodybuilding knowledge to help others by setting up a personal training company. As well as helping regular gym goers, he has been the go-to trainer for professional athletes and coaches and even helped Evander Holyfield defend his two heavyweight titles. At 56 years old, he’s still going strong.
- Ronnie Coleman (current most wins, shared with Lee Haney) was a serving police officer during most of his wins, although he retired from the force in 2003. His last competition was the 2007 Mr Olympia when he came fourth. He has launched his own range of supplements under the name ‘Ronnie Coleman Signature Series’, which are designed to provide bodybuilders with supplements that work and that he is happy to put his name against. Ronnie has suffered serious back issues, probably from the amount of training he has done, and he has had seven operations in the last nine years. Only recently has he been back in the gym .
Click to see The complete list of Mr. Olympia winners
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