Lou Ferrigno opens up about pro bodybuilders being underpaid.


Pro bodybuilding has made large strides over the decades in size and scope. This includes prize money which has consistently risen each and every year. This is particularly true for the Mr. Olympia competition. The total coin purse each year has increased significantly. That being said, not everyone wins the top spot prizes. Pro bodybuilders often must resort to sponsorships in order to keep a steady stream of income. In our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview, Lou Ferrigno explains why he believes the Mr. Olympia first place prize money should rise up to one million dollars alongside an overall increase in prizes.

During our conversation with Lou Ferrigno during the filming of the original Generation Iron documentary we discussed a wide variety of topics. Only a small selection of them made it into the film. That’s why we’re releasing footage from the cutting room floor for the first time ever. Providing further insight into the legends that appeared in the film.

In this clip, we asked Lou Ferrigno what his thoughts were about the current state of bodybuilding. He believes that pro bodybuilding has plateaued. He means this in both quality of physiques and size of the sport.

So what’s the main factor holding the sport back from growing even further? Lou Ferrigno believes it’s the prize money. In general, he thinks that pro bodybuilders are being taken advantage of and don’t receive their due of profits for their sacrifice.

More specifically, Lou Ferrigno thinks that the Mr. Olympia can lead this charge in improving the value of pro bodybuilders and the sport as a whole. The first step? Ferrigno suggests that the first place winner should receive one million dollars. The second place winner should then earn $500,000.

Currently, the first place Mr. Olympia winner receives $400,000 in prize money as of 2020. If the Olympia were to follow Lou Ferrigno’s suggestion for first and second place – the overall investment would increase significantly.

But to Lou Ferrigno, this is the only way to incentivize pro bodybuilders to push the sport even further. If the pros are not being paid like pro athletes, then they won’t perform like pro athletes.

Of course, it must be said that the scope and scale of bodybuilding, while increasing since it’s origins, is still far more niche than mainstream sports such as football or basketball. An increase in prize money can only exist if the sport itself can afford it. In comparison to multi billion dollar pro leagues – bodybuilding federations like the IFBB can’t match up.

Obviously, pro bodybuilding as a whole wants to further reward bodybuilders. That’s why the prize money has slowly increased year after year. Perhaps this is the more realistic way of eventually getting to Lou Ferrigno’s Olympia prize money dream. But how long would that take?

It’s a tricky question, but ultimately Lou Ferrigno thinks that the current state of income for pro bodybuilders is unacceptable. Having been through the ringer himself, he understands the massive and irreversible sacrifice pro bodybuilders need to make in this sport. Without them, the sport itself wouldn’t exist. So it stands to reason they are compensated fairly for that sacrifice.

Do you agree with Lou Ferrigno? Check out his full comments in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above. You can also see Ferrigno in Generation Iron – now on digital today. Click here or the banner below to stream or download.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.