MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao sweetened the pot for the country’s first Olympic gold medal, dangling an additional P5 million to the athlete who can pull off the feat next year in Rio.
“I pledge P5 million for anybody who could win the gold next year in any sport in the Olympics,” Pacquiao told reporters after giving an inspirational talk to attendees of the Sports For All Seminar at Philsports Arena.
Pacquiao’s pledge doubles the bonus a gold medalist stands to receive from Republic Act 9064 or the sports incentives law, which earmarks P5-million for the achiever.
Pacquiao, the second highest-paid celebrity according Forbes Magazine, hopes the extra windfall will give an added boost to the Olympiad-bound bets.
Pacquiao mingled with coaches and athletes participating in the four-day sports science seminar, urging them to “keep a positive mind” and believe in God.
“You must keep your focus, be determined and think positive. Never think you can only do so much, that’s the mind of a defeatist,” Pacquiao told them.
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Wearing a Team Philippines jacket given by the PSC, Pacquiao gamely posed for photo and when he was helping out pick the winner of raffle items, announced impromptu he was giving away P100,000 in cash prizes to 10 winners.
Pacquiao also signed two posters that will be on exhibit at the PSC Sports Museum, along with old gloves.
PSC chairman Richie Garcia said the museum will have a dedicated corner for the eight-division world champ.
Pacquiao joined the lobbying for more funding for Filipino athletes.
“I’m all for additional budget for sports. We all want to win the gold (in the Olympics) but we need to support the athletes. They go hand-in-hand support and determination,” he said.
Pacquiao stressed that having sports heroes will also help the country tourism-wise as it helps “promote the Philippines” and “draw investor’s interest.”