This isn’t a dig at the man, far from it. Hell, if we could convince someone to make it rain on us in exchange for jogging around in the heat for about half an hour, we’d be absolutely laughing. It’s good work if you can get it.
It’s just that, in this case, the numbers are pretty dang funny.
The Australian Open is officially underway in Melbourne, and thus heralds in the hottest two weeks of the calendar year, as is tradition. Professional players travel from all across the world to gather on human hotplates and see who can last the longest without physically melting. For this, winners receive their choice of fancy cup or fancy plate, instantly becoming the envy of all their crockery-loving pals, even despite snide remarks that the plates will rest impotently on a shelf forever, never to feel the cool kiss of a summer wine or the creamy delight of a cheese-based platter rolling sensually down their metal skin.
Flippancy aside, making your way in to a major professional grand slam tournament is a goddamned pay day and a half, even if you bomb out of the first round spectacularly.
A first round exit in both the men’s and women’s singles competitions nets the happy losers a cool $50,000 cheque. And as it turns out, you really don’t even need to play the whole game in order to get paid.
Spanish player and world number 42 Nicolás Almagro fronted up to his first round match against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and lasted precisely 4 games before retiring from the tournament due to injury, with the whole shebang lasting some 23 minutes.
That’s $50k for 23 minute’s work. Roughly $2,174 earned per minute.
The Spaniard cited an injured calf, which he reportedly had an MRI done on earlier in the week, as the reason for his withdrawal. But media onlookers speculated that he might have hobbled in knowingly injured for the sake of copping that sweet, sweet cash. Todd Woodbridge, for one, asked the question directly:
“Questions to be asked. Did he just turn up to take (prize) money?”
Almagro, for his part, scoffed at suggestions he was just here to make a quick dollar, asserting that due to the fact that he has “$10 million” therefore he was clearly not playing just for the money.
“I went to court because I think I can play. I was top 10, I have more than 10 million dollars. I’m not going to play for $50,000. It is not the reason.”
“I was trying to play during the week. It was tough. I did an MRI and the result wasn’t good. That’s it. I couldn’t play. I felt the problem again on court and I had to retire. I considered (withdrawing) but I was practising, I didn’t feel it during the week. I decided to play today.”
Hey, say what you want. $50k for a hobbled half-hour jog?
That’s good-ass work if you can get it.
Photo: Zhong Zhi/Getty.