Melvin Anthony Answers: Is Bodybuilding Less Lucrative Today?

Melvin Anthony discusses financial opportunities in bodybuilding during his era vs today.

Those who follow bodybuilding history know of the coveted Weider contract. Back when Joe Weider was still alive – he would offer lucrative sponsorship contracts to the top bodybuilders in the sport. It was at once a sort of confirmation of a bodybuilder’s talent as well as a consistent pay day. In a sense, it was how an athlete became a career bodybuilder. Today contracts like Joe Weider’s are unheard of. Instead, social media influencer sponsorships and affiliate rates provide opportunity for income. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Melvin Anthony debates on whether or not bodybuilding was more lucrative in the past model compared to today’s model.

Melvin Anthony’s bodybuilding career happened just at the tail end of a massive cultural shift in the world. By the time he was done with pro bodybuilding, social media had just begun blowing up. Now ten years later – it’s almost a way of life for younger generations.

The rise of the internet, and more specifically social media, completely changed how bodybuilding worked. The competitions, of course, remained the same. But how the fans interacted with key athletes and followed the sport shifted. Magazines were no longer king and fans could get daily updates instead of monthly.


In many ways, this has helped bodybuilding grow. Bodybuilders can now promote themselves without a middleman. Live streams can be broadcast to those who can’t attend shows in person. Exposure is at an all time high. But has the financial opportunities for athletes grown with it?

Melvin Anthony is at odds with bodybuilding revenue opportunities of today vs yesteryear. He’s old enough to remember what the 90s paydays were like. Prize money might have been down – but supplement contracts were massive. Today, it’s common to hear that athletes are only paid in free supplements an affiliate percentage rates. Meaning – the more the bodybuilder can sell the more money they can make. This can be lucrative for some – but is vastly different than a consistent monthly paycheck.

Melvin Anthony at first claims that bodybuilding in the past was more lucrative. The lack of exposure made the niche sport even more “elite.” A bodybuilder could sell merch at expos – and they became collectors items. On top of this, earning a supplement contract or a Weider contract, was only for the best of the best. When it was earned – it was like winning the lottery.

At the same time, Melvin Anthony admits he doesn’t understand fully the new model of sponsorships for bodybuilders. He feels as though it’s less impressive of a payday – but he also understands that social media provides so many more options for exposure. Exposure can equal big money for those who know how to harness it.

The reality probably falls somewhere in between. It seems as if, in the past, the paydays were higher but dispersed to smaller number of athletes. Today, even a bodybuilder who places low on stage can make big money if they build a brand on social media. Many more bodybuilders have gone on to become entrepreneurs. While this isn’t direct money from bodybuilding proper – they used their physique and social media to help kick start a business.

The old vs new debates will always rage on in sports and in culture at large. The only true fact we know for sure is that there are more fans of bodybuilding today than ever before. So there is plenty of opportunity to succeed with that kind of exposure. Perhaps it’s simply different but not better or worse in that regard.

You can watch Melvin Anthony break down his thoughts on bodybuilding revenue in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!

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.