Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Everest + Gift of Gab = $$$

Ever wonder how much money celebrity adventurers get for doing those corporate speaking gigs? Actually, not very many climbers and skiers make anything—most of the climbers I know rake in a few hundred bucks and some free beer, at best, at the shows they do, and they often give the proceeds to the Access Fund or the AAC. But for a few people there's real money in delivering 45 minutes of after-dinner inspiration and bon mots to the salarymen, along with some stirring images of climbing ladders over crevasses.

The big money is on Everest, where even the faintest stardom commands a healthy speaking fee. A quick, unscientific survey of speakers' bureaus shows that Everest vets Ed Viesturs, Jim Whittaker, David Breashears, and Peter Hillary all ask $10,000 to $20,000 per speech. Sharon Wood, the first North American woman to climb Everest, might be available for as little as $5,000, but Stacy Allison, the first American, gets $20,000 to $30,000, more than all the guys except back-from-the-dead Everest ’96 survivor Beck Weathers. In fact, triumphing over adversity trumps fully abled success every time. Aron Ralston's speaking fee went from 0 to as high as $50,000 after he lopped off his arm in Blue John Canyon. Blind climber Erik Weihenmayer commands $30,000 to $50,000 for his inspirational talks.

Rock climbing, meanwhile, is too hard to explain and too boring to watch to make it big in the corporate world. The only highly marketable speaker whose claim to fame was primarily rock climbing was the late Todd Skinner (fee range: $10,000 to $20,000). In any case, we all know that adventure sports pale in comparison to mainstream celebrity when it comes to bringing home the bacon. Lance Armstrong's fee for a single speaking gig? $150,000 and up.

2 comments:

Filatore said...

DM,
That pales in comparison to former US President Bill Clinton. According to last year's tax records, he made 43 speeches and raked in $7.5 million in speaking fees. That's $174,418.60 per speech, for those keeping score at home.

michelle said...

I always wondered why Lynn Hill isn't on the corporate circuit but then I heard her speak... It's one thing to be a pro climber and an entirely other for being a pro speaker.

I think she's done some amazing things and could command serious speaking fees for being the first person to free the Nose but there's a lot to be said for public speaking skills. Corporates want to awed. Lessons would be a great investment.