London 2012: Paul McCartney's Shocking Olympic Payday

Paul McCartney Olympics 2012 screen grab L

What did it cost to have Sir Paul play a couple of Beatles classics for a global audience of 1 billion during the Opening Ceremony? Hint: Your guess is likely way off.

He’s the world’s most famous living songwriter. He has sold maybe a billion records. He still plays to packed houses worldwide. So how much was Paul McCartney paid to sing a couple of Beatles songs during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics?

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Did Britain’s richest musician – who The Sunday Times recently estimated is worth a cool $1 billion and rising -- command a million-dollar fee? Perhaps a paltry $500,000? Gotta be at least 100 grand, right?

Try a buck fifty-seven.

Yes, Sir Paul and the others who performed during Friday’s big show at Olympic Stadium were compensated with exactly one pound sterling. That’s $1.57 here in the States.

"The top talent basically gave their services for free," a London 2012 spokeswoman told the Agence France-Presse. "But in order to have a formal contract for their services you have to show an amount, so that was set at a pound, which enables them to have a contractual arrangement."

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Yes, it seems that a chance to perform for an estimated global audience of 1 billion is compensation enough for McCartney and fellow Opening acts Mike Oldfield, Underworld, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sande. One minor catch: The checks apparently have yet to clear.

"I got paid a pound for my work,” 24-year-old singer Sande told The London Evening Standard. “It's there in print, and I know because I signed the contract myself. Mind you, I haven't received anything yet! When I do, though, that pound will be truly special.”

Uh-oh -- controversy? The Olympics spokeswoman appeared unfazed.

"I don't imagine they're going to be fretting too much about it," she told the AFP. "We greatly appreciate all of them for giving up their time."