After winning the Mr. Universe title a number of times, Arnold Schwarzenegger won his first Mr. Olympia title in 1970 at the age of 23, which made him the youngest person ever to do so. Since the former Governor of California loves the taste of victory, he went on to win the title six more times before retiring from competition.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love for bodybuilding went above and beyond monetary benefits. Obviously, things are different today with the winners taking home hefty cheques as prize money. Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled how in his Mr. Olympia days, he made less than a thousand dollars yet he didn’t mind it at all. He simply was not in it for the money.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Didn’t Compete For Money
Last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on Nick Miller’s Strength and Power podcast where he talked about how much he made after winning the Mr. Olympia titles. He stated that he won $750 as prize money but he wasn’t doing it to make money at all.
“The professional can make some extra money. Because remember that in my days there was no money. I mean, imagine, I win the Mr. Olympia competition, I remember in 1974, whenever it was, and we got like 750 dollars. But again, we didn’t do it for the money.”
He then recalled how he and Franco Columbo would work a few different jobs which made sure that money kept coming in. From rebuilding Los Angeles after the earthquake to his mail-order business, money was not Schwarzenegger’s concern when it came to Mr. Olympia.
Schwarzenegger continued that increasing the prize money was one of the reasons why he began promoting competitions in the first place. He recalls giving out $5,000 and then just increasing the amount each year.
“That’s why I started…to promote competitions in the first place. Because, I always wanted to kind of like increase the cash prizes. So we were the first ones I remember, uh, in 1976 to offer five thousand dollars in cash prizes. Then we went to ten thousand dollars. Then to twenty five thousand, fifty. And this is how we went up year after year.”
It’s truly impressive what Schwarzenegger did for the competition. While he didn’t do it for the money, the heavy cash prizes sure might have helped a lot of people who were in need of it!
Why Did Arnold Schwarzenegger Retire From Bodybuilding
After winning all there was to win, Schwarzenegger was on the lookout for something new and challenging. He found what he was looking for in Hollywood. In an old interview, straight from the sets of Conan the Barbarian, Schwarzenegger talks about why he left bodybuilding behind.
“I won everything. I won for 13 years the world championships in bodybuilding. So there was no more challenge for me really there. So I thought of getting into something different that would create a lot of challenge for me and it would be very difficult.”
And thus, Schwarzenegger became the action icon we all know. With movies like The Terminator, True Lies, and Predator, Schwarzenegger proved that he can pull anything off!
Source: Strength and Power podcast