COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Governor Hickenlooper was in Colorado Springs on Monday to sign a bill exempting Olympic athlete medal winners from paying state income tax on their winnings.
"We all share in the success of our Olympic athletes and our Paralympic athletes. The determination and will of these individuals to overcome all types of challenges is remarkable," Hickenlooper said at Colorado Springs' Olympic Training Center.
The new law will apply to athletes making less than $1,000,000 a year and will not involve money from endorsements.
The U.S. Olympic Committee awards cash prizes to medalists ranging from $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.
Gold medals themselves are worth about $600 dollars, silver $300, with bronze medals only having a minute monetary value.
"As athletes in the U.S. we are not state funded, we are not government funded like Russia, like Germany, so every penny matters to us," said U.S. Olympic Skeleton team member Stephen Garbett.
It's one of the reasons state representative Clarice Navarro of Pueblo spearheaded this legislation.
"When I heard about our Olympic athletes that were competing and they were from Colorado, I was shocked to hear they were being taxed on their medals when they got home. And I thought we can do better than that," Navarro said.
An olympian like Michael Phelps makes millions a year in endorsements. But your average U.S. Olympian makes just $20,000 dollars a year annually, making any tax break crucial for staving off the financial burden of training.
For almost all Olympians, money falls a distant second to their sheer love for their sports. But for Paralympian shooter McKenna Dahl, the new law means more time on training and less time worrying about money.
"It was really just nice to put some more effort into certain parts of my equipment and I'm working on getting a new gun in a couple of months," said Dahl, who won bronze in Rio last summer.
And what will the extra money help Dahl with the most?
"It'll really allow me to maybe get a different color medal the next games."