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Mr. Olympia 2022 Results: Prize Money Payouts for Winner and Top Contestants

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2022

Egyptian bodybuilder Mamdouh Elssbiay, aka Big Ramy, poses on stage during a competition at the Arnold Classic Brazil 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 30, 2015. The 3rd annual multi-disciplinary sports competition is named after Austrian-American actor, politician and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger.   AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

The annual Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition ended with an upset of sorts on Saturday night with Hadi Choopan earning first place and the prestigious Sandow Trophy.

Going into the event, it was easy to predict Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay would take down his third in a row in a sport defined by massive runs, most recently by Phil Heath, Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman.

Instead, Choopan sported unbeatable conditioning and waist control for his size and took home the top spot at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The final five, where Elssbiay just clung to the last spot:

  1. Hadi Choopan
  2.  Derek Lunsford
  3. Nick Walker
  4. Brandon Curry
  5. Mamdouh Elssibay

As for prize money payouts, Elssibay took home $400,000 a year ago. Second place got $150,000 and third $100,000. This year's entire event purse was $1.6 million, a tick higher than the previous record number, so the payouts will be similar (the purse is split between all competitions, not just Mr. Olympia).

GENERATION IRON @GenerationIron

Hadi Choopan 2022 MR OLYMPIA <a href="https://t.co/3sCQpmyCnF">pic.twitter.com/3sCQpmyCnF</a>

It's all about Choopan in the aftermath, though. He finished third at the contest last year and didn't occupy the biggest spotlight going into this event.

Wildly enough, it was Big Ramy himself who predicted Choopan would finish second behind him before the competition during an interview with Ronnie Coleman (h/t Vishnu Mohan of Sportskeeda): "I don't like to talk about myself, but I can say for the other people. I can say Hadi [Choopan], he will be fine. And also Brandon [Curry] — he will be dangerous. It's the most exciting show I think in the history because I think nobody knows who is going to win."

Besides Elssbiay, the spotlight tended to focus on Brandon Curry, the winner in 2019 who finished as a runner-up in 2020 before taking a one-year hiatus. A showdown once more with Elssibay was a natural top storyline before both finished outside the top three.

Going into the event, Nick Walker was also a favorite after drumming up some serious momentum at the 2021 Arnold Classic.

GENERATION IRON @GenerationIron

Hadi Choopan graces the Olympia 2022 stage. <a href="https://t.co/Se59TdZvAf">pic.twitter.com/Se59TdZvAf</a>

Derek Lunsford was a big upset in his own right. He occupied the center next to Choopan during comparison rounds late in the contest, sending Elssibay to the side—a stunning indication to onlookers that an upset was about to unfold. Saturday night, the drama shifted away from whether Elssibay would repeat and more to whether it would be Choopan or Lunsford taking the top spot on the podium.

Lunsford's story is wild as well. He was the Men's 212 Olympia champion in 2021, so his ascent has been swift and telling. The groundwork for a Lunsford-Choopan is now there and could be the sport's next big rivalry.

Choopan, by far one of the best stories in modern pro bodybuilding, immediately used his newfound platform, too:

JennaLaineESPN @JennaLaineESPN

Much was made about the Iranian men's soccer team's show of support for Iranian women. The man just named the new Mr. Olympia moments ago — Hadi Choopan — is from Iran and just dedicated his victory to the women of Iran.

So completes a stunning arc for Choopan, who just brought the best physique of his career to the most important event of his career. He first popped onto the scene in the 212 division in 2017 and quickly had noteworthy battles with the likes of Flex Lewis.

In 2019, Choopan overcame consistent visa issues at the last moment, arriving just before the competition that year—yet finished in third place anyway.

Fast foward a few years, Choopan has ascended all the way to the top of the sport amid a 2022 class generally agreed upon as one of the best and deepest in a long time for the sport.

In hindsight, Choopan's triumph on Saturday might go down as the beginning of something much, much bigger as the possible start of the Choopan era.