Although Bezic's remark about financial gain was ridiculous (why shouldn't a skater with Lysacek's career record profit from it?), the business has changed so much that it would be hard for the U.S. federation to pay Lysacek anything near what it did Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes, Kimmie Meissner, Sasha Cohen, Timothy Goebel and Michael Weiss from 1997 through 2005.
Each of the skaters in the previous paragraph (other than Lysacek) made in excess of $100,000 from appearance fees (the totals also include prize money funneled through USFS) during one of those years, as the federation reported in its tax filings under the category of the top five independent contractors making $100,000 or more in a year.
Kwan, the most decorated U.S. figure skater in history, earned $6.3 million from 1997 through 2005 (best year: $899,000 on the 1998 tax filing).
Cohen made from $315,000 to $473,000 from 2002 through 2005; Weiss pulled in $505,000 in 2003, Hughes $518,000 in 2002, Goebel $353,000 in 2002, Lipinski $433,000 in 1997.
(FYI: Tax filings are for a fiscal year, so Lipinski's 1997 earnings, for instance, were from July 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998 -- the months following her U.S. and world titles and including her 1998 Olympic title).
And the tax filing had to list only the five highest earners. There were others making six figures.
For the big earners, the bulk of the money was appearance fees to guarantee they skated on ABC shows like Skate America and the pro-ams U.S. Figure Skating once ran. Those fees came out of the TV revenues, which reached $12 million annually in the final eight years of ABC's contract with USFS.
In the two most recent USFS tax filings, through June 30, 2010, no skater is listed among independent contractors earning more than $50,000 a year (the IRS lowered the reporting level).