Joachim B Olsen, an outspoken critic of the welfare state and a prominent spokesperson for libertarian party Liberal Alliance (LA), received 738,000 kroner from the Danish athletics union and Team Danmark during his professional career as a shot putter, the tabloid Ekstra Bladet has revealed.
According to numbers Ekstra Bladet acquired from the Danish athletics union, Olsen received the government support from 2004 to 2008. He reportedly also received government support between 2002 and 2004, although the exact number for the period remains unclear.
Previously Olsen had claimed to have received around 60,000 kroner a year, a number far below the actual amount.
Speaking to TV2 News, Olsen claims that he never lied about his support and was only repeating the estimate that Team Danmark had given him.
“I don’t know the calculations, but I assume that part of the support went towards equipment and technology, which has benefited more people than just me,” he told TV2 News.
Olsen and his party have been very critical of government intervention in the market and have spoken strongly of the incentive that lowering government support creates. Since his entry into politics in 2011, Olsen has used every opportunity to criticise the amount the government spends on benefit payments like unemployment benefits. He became perhaps best known for the 'Carina' episode, in which Olsen expressed doubt that poverty exists in Denmark. He was challenged by Özlem Cekic of Socialistisk Folkeparti, who presented as evidence the single mother Carina. Carina, however, turned out to be earning 15,000 kroner a month in benefits and had been living off the system for 20 years.
The news of Olsen’s public support during his sport career has created a public outcry on his Facebook page, where many are calling Olsen out for hypocrisy.
“You are so busy focusing on all the people who have it hard in our society, and then we find out that you are the biggest parasite of them all,” Karin Christensen wrote.
Another commenter, Christian Nørremark, called Olsen “a mockery of humanity".
"If it wasn’t problematic that you have received at least 146,000 kroner in support, you wouldn't have lied and said you only got 60,000,” Nørremark said.
Olsen, however, denied that being a vocal critic of government support while having received so much himself was a sign of hypocrisy.
“I am in no way a hypocrite. It is absolutely absurd to mix the two things together like that. Team Danmark is not a benefits programme,” Olsen told TV2 News.