Chicago 2016 has taken in millions more than it has spent. But that's because we're just now getting to the expensive stage of the bidding process. When it's all done, Chicago expects to spend nearly $58 million going for the Games.
Chicago's Olympic bid is essentially one massive marketing campaign. Tax documents released Friday reveal, as of June of last summer, Chicago 2016 had raised more than $32 million but only spent $9.2 million.
Where has the money gone? The bid committee wrote a check for $5 million to the US Olympic Committee for staff and expertise. It spent $2.6 million to essentially rent staff from big firms with expertise in management, since it had no paid employees of its own. It spent $328,000 on travel.
"It takes money to successfully launch an Olympic bid," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.
Ryan has been shaking the giving tree hard, while at the same time running the show like the corporate tycoon he is.
"They're overhead is only 5 percent. That's really small. They're to be applauded for such a low overhead," said Daniel Borochoff, CharityWatch.org.
At ABC7's request, the head of CharityWatch.org reviewed the tax filing and found only one red flag. Last March, the bid held a big fundraiser at McCormick Place that made millions. Problem was, they didn't charge enough for tickets to cover the expenses from that night. They wound up having to cough up nearly $500,000 to cover costs. Experts say that's not a good thing for a non-profit.
"$439,000 that could have gone to help Chicago get the Olympics actually went to benefits for people going to a fundraising dinner," said Borochoff.
"These are expenditures, but it's an investment in our winning, and when we win it is a huge investment in our community," said Ryan.
Chicago has raised more and spent less than New York did when it was at the same stage in its unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Olympics.
Also Friday, employees said so long to firm founder Pat Ryan. Ryan said he is "retiring from Aon, not from life." He will continue to lead Chicago's Olympic efforts.