Baseball player Juan Soto knows firsthand how challenging it is to be an athlete in the Dominican Republic.
To help some of those athletes continue to pursue their goals in their respective sports, the Washington Nationals outfielder donated the $200,000 he earned from this year’s MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game to sponsor not only baseball players from his home country, but also boxers and track and field athletes.
“I know where they all came from and what they have been through,” Soto told the Washington Post. “The process we have to all go through is hard. We have to go from one side of the country to the other for practices. We had to go hours and hours without eating sometimes. We have to practice and have no proteins, or no shoes, or not the right clothing or equipment. So, it’s pretty tough to do that and still be motivated. What they did for the Olympics, it’s just amazing.”
Soto got the idea to donate the money to several different athletes from his friend and current baseball free agent Emilio Bonifácio, who has played for several teams over the years including the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves.
“I just told him to consider others beyond baseball,” Bonifácio told the Post. “He was already going to. He wanted to help as many people as he could. The thing some people don’t realize is that a few of us baseball guys got to make our money in the States. The boxers, the runners, they are doing this because it is what they love. And they are doing this for our country with little financial gains.”
Soto’s agent Scott Boras says this season is the first one where Soto has earned “a salary above the league minimum.” The donation, he adds, shows how much he is committed to his country and community.
“[Juan] is not an athlete who has already established a long-term contract foundation,” said Boras. “So, at this stage of his career, for him to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars is significant.”