22-year-old weightlifter Holley Mangold has a lot of things going for her: a place on the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team, a shot at the title of Strongest Woman on the Planet, and a personal best of 562 pounds in combined lifts. Here’s what she doesn’t necessarily have: the million-dollar paycheck of a male pro athlete.
That’s because Olympic weight lifting isn’t a big sport for the U.S. The New York Times aptly describes it as, “…scruffy: no money, low participation; it’s our Jamaican bobsled team.”
In some ways, she’s the ultimate embodiment of the gender pay gap in athletics: her brother Nick plays center for the New York Jets, and will make $54 million over the next seven years. Mangold is on sabbatical from her catering gig at a local barbecue joint. She also played football in high school, but as a woman, couldn’t aspire to a pro career. She picked weight lifting because it was a sport a strong woman could pursue all the way to the Olympics.
“I always tell my brother, that if I was born a boy, I’d be playing right there with him — and I’d better than him,” she said. “I took football as far as I could.”
Mangold hopes to have a shot at the bronze medal this year, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s always next time. She was originally planning to try out for the 2016 Olympics, but was so good, she was able compete ahead of schedule.
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