Who Is NJ's Sam Mattis and Why Did He Ditch Wall Street for Discus?

Also, how can we watch him compete in the Tokyo Olympics?

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Sam Mattis is making his Olympic debut in Tokyo this summer, but the 2021 discus throw bronze winner at trials has already made a name for himself on and off the track, though not all know the intensity of his journey to get to the Games.

The 27-year-old New Jerseyan who graduated from East Brunswick High School and went on to train at the University of Pennsylvania nearly had a different life on Wall Street. He was offered a job at JPMorgan Chase after graduating from the prestigious Wharton School in 2016 but turned it down -- even if it meant living the financially struggling life his family experienced as he was growing up.

"I don't think I truly understood the scope of the financial struggle I'd be going through," Mattis told CNBC of his decision earlier this month.

The athlete has lived off less than $35,000 a year maximum since turning down that lucrative gig, getting odd jobs in tutoring and hyperlocal marketing to make ends meet, CDC reports. Mattis has found more than a few ways to stretch his income.

"There were a bunch of times when I'd be just barely getting by at the end of the month between rent and car payments and everything like that," he says. "I was doing whatever I could to make a little extra money."


Still, Mattis had some luck -- he earned a $12,000 yearly stipend from USA Track and Field as one of the nation's best discus throwers and tries to balance the rigors of Olympic-level training while still holding down an at least part-time job.

"What most of us do with athletics, whether it's the lifting, the throwing, the technique work and the recovery afterwards, that's already a full-time job," Mattis told CNBC. "And it's a physically and mentally exhausting job. To add five to eight hours of work on top of that every day makes it almost impossible."

Now in Tokyo, it's starting to become worthwhile. Mattis gets a $10,000 bonus just for earning a spot on Team USA and scored $6,000 for his bronze finish at the Olympic trials. If he makes the podium in Tokyo, there's more money to come.

And he hopes to make training for the 2024 Olympics in Brisbane, Australia, part of his immediate future after Tokyo, even if he doesn't win the top-line sponsorships awarded to the most elite athletes in the most popular disciplines of his sport.

"I did all this to try to make an Olympic team, and I made one, so that's great," Mattis told CNBC. "But even if I didn't make it, I think the journey and all the obstacles I had to go through along the way have been invaluable."

So how can you watch him compete in Tokyo? Watch Mattis in the final starting at 7:15 a.m. ET Saturday.

His favorite TV show is "Rick and Morty" and he has one brother, Jake. His father was the captain of the William & Mary track and field team in 1985 and holds the 35-pound weight throw record, also ranking No. 3 in the hammer.

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