One would think that the most lucrative business in the world is show business. We always see how these Hollywood films are doing at the weekend box office and wonder that being an actor must be the highest paying profession in the world. But in reality, professional sports has better-paying jobs. This list is based on total prize money for a sports event given to all participating athletes or teams. The Fedex Cup (golf) and the Dubai World Cup (horse racing) are the closest runner-ups in the list, having total prizes of $35 million and $30 million, respectively. Other popular sports are not even close when it comes to total cash awards. For example, American football (NFL) gave player bonuses to the Philadelphia Eagles of only $112,000. NBA champions get certain bonuses, but it depends on the team, the season, and the players. NBA and NFL players get a championship ring and loads of money from endorsement deals and yearly contracts. Here are ten of the highest paying sporting events in the world.
10. Wimbledon 2017
Total Prize Money: $42.8 Million
Winner: $2.98 Million each – Roger Federer (Men’s) & Garbine Muguruza (Women’s)
One of tennis’s four Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon is always held in England. The other three are the French Open, the US Open and the Australian Open. Athletes from all over the world visit London at the All England Club. The surface of Wimbledon is grass outdoors. This is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and has been held in the same place since its first tournament in 1877. The first ever Wimbledon champion was Spencer William Gore.
Wimbledon has five main events: Singles Men and Women, Doubles Men and Women, and Mixed Doubles. There are also four junior events and seven invitational events. All events have cash prizes, but the biggest and most popular are the Men’s Singles (Gentlemen’s) and Women’s Singles (Ladies’). 2017’s winners were Roger Federer from Switzerland and Garbine Muguruza from Spain. They both took home $2.98 million dollars in prize money.
The 2018 Wimbledon will be held on July 2, 2018 and will run through July 15, 2018. The total prize money will surely increase by then. The current top-seeded players are Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer for the gentlemen; and Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, and Karolina Pliskova for the ladies.
9. US Open Tennis 2017
Total Prize Money: $50.4 Million
Winner: $3.7 Million each – Rafael Nadal (Men’s) & Sloane Stephens (Women’s)
The US Open is the fourth and last in the Grand Slam tournaments of tennis. Since 1978, this event has always been held in Queens, New York, at the USTA National Tennis Center. Back in 1881, the tournament was only held nationally, but in 1968 they opened the competition to athletes all over the world, hence the term US Open.
The US Open’s surface is hard outdoors. There are eighteen courts, three tennis show courts, and a main court named Arthur Ashe Stadium in the arena. The stadium was named after the first ever US Open champion, the American athlete Arthur Ashe. Just like Wimbledon, it also has five main events, Men and Women’s Singles, Men and Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. The biggest purses go to the Singles event champions. In the most recent competition, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Sloane Stephens of the United States won the tournament. They each received $3.7 million in prize money.
The 2018 US Open Tennis Championships is scheduled for August 26 to September 8, 2018. Like the other Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open total prize money gets bigger every year. So the numbers you see here will be higher next year, for sure.
8. World Series Poker 2017
Total Prize Money: $68 Million
Winner: $8.15 Million – Scott Blumstein
The World Series of Poker is a fairly young sport, and started rather unofficially in 1970. But since 2005, it’s been run by Caesars Entertainment Corp. But wait, is poker really a sport? Why not? Chess is a sport. It’s the same thing, a game of strategy, just like backgammon, bridge, and cribbage. Poker is definitely the most exciting, one cannot bluff their way into a checkmate, no sir! Poker was actually officially classified as a sport by the International Mind Sport Association in 2011.
The WSOP or World Series of Poker is a tournament held in Nevada yearly. To enter the tournament, there is a buy-in amount of $10,000. The game is Texas Hold ‘Em No Limit. The winner not only gets bragging rights and the rare World Series of Poker bracelet, they also get the title of World Champion of Poker. Oh, and he or she also gets to take home one of the biggest cash prizes in all of sports. Last year’s winner was Scott Blumstein of New Jersey, go Garden State! Scott took home a total of $8.15 million.
The next World Series of Poker tournament starts on May 29 and ends July 17, 2018. The event anticipates a larger sum of prize money for 2018, so let’s go all in!
7. World Series Major League Baseball 2017
Total Prize Money: $68 Million
Winner: $28 Million – Houston Astros
America’s favorite pastime made it to the list. The World Series is the crossroads between the champions of the National League and the American League. It is a game of champions played since 1903. The winner is awarded the Commissioner’s Trophy.
This was the first time the Houston Astros ever won a World Series. The best World Series team in Major League Baseball (MLB) history is the New York Yankees as they have won the Commissioner’s Trophy twenty-seven times. The Oakland A’s won it nine times, and the Boston Red Sox eight times. A total cash prize of $28 million was awarded to the Houston Astros at the end of the 2017 World Series. It was a hard-fought and hard-won game for the Astros, reaching the final Game 7 and coming up on top over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game ended with a 5 to 1 score and lasted more than three and a half hours. Notable Houston Astros star athletes are Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Dallas Keuchel.
The 2018 Major League Baseball season opened in March 29. The next World Series will be on October 23rd and ends October 31st. A larger total prize money is expected as well.
6. UEFA European Championship 2016
Total Prize Money: $334 Million
Winner: $30 Million – Portugal
The Euros, or the Union of European Football (soccer to Americans) or UEFA championship started in 1960. It is held every four years and is the tournament that determines Europe’s continental champion. The event started with four teams and expanded over the years, eight in 1980, sixteen in 1996, and twenty-four in 2016. The championship trophy is called the Henri Delaunay Trophy, named after the first General Secretary of UEFA.
The UEFA Euro 2016 was hosted by France. The winner was Portugal. They beat the host team 1-0. Out of the total prize money of $334 million, Portugal received $30 million big ones as champion. Portugal’s notable players are young blood Renato Sanches and star player and team captain Cristiano Ronaldo. The best Euro team in history is Germany with three championships and three runner-ups. Second place is Spain with three championships as well, but only one runner-up finish. Third is France with two championships. This is Portugal’s first trophy, the closest they got before was in 2004, but they lost the championship to Greece.
The next tournament is Euro 2020. The host country is yet to be determined. But the total prize money is determined to be much higher than 2016.
5. UEFA Europa League 2017
Total Prize Money: $477 Million
Winner: $92 Million – Manchester United
The UEFA Europa League is held every year among 48 competing teams. After the competition, eight teams will then compete in the UEFA Champions League. The Europa League is a sports event since 1971 and is organized by UEFA. Formerly known as the UEFA Cup, its name was changed to Europa League in 2009, just a simple rebranding and restructuring.
The winner of the tournament is awarded the UEFA Cup or the Coupe UEFA. It’s a beautiful silver trophy that weighs 33 pounds. The winner also receives a whopping amount of prize money, the fifth largest in this list. The current winner of the UEFA is the football club Manchester United. The championship was held in Solna, Sweden, at the beautiful Friends Arena. Manchester United played against Ajax and came out on top with a score of 2-0. The goals were scored by midfielders Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This tournament is like a qualifier for the other bigger football tournaments: the UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately, Manchester United lost to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup competition.
The 2018 UEFA Europa League was held on May 17 in France. Spain Atlético and Marseille took the field and Spain Atlético won with a score of 3-0. this makes the third win for Spain.
4. FIFA World Cup 2014
Total Prize Money: $576 Million
Winner: $35 Million – Germany
This is the most global football competition in the world. The FIFA World Cup is like the Olympics of football. It is the most widely viewed sporting event all over the world. Established in 1930, the FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament open to all countries on the planet, so long as they pass the FIFA qualification phase. There have been twenty World Cup events, as the tournament is held only every four years. The twenty events have been won by just eight national teams.
Brazil is the best FIFA football club as they won the most with five. Tied at second are Italy and Germany, both winning four titles each. In third place are Uruguay and Argentina with two apiece, and at fourth are England, France, and Spain, each getting one. The 2014 FIFA World Cup was hosted by Brazil and the two teams who faced each other in the finals were Argentina and Germany. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia. Germany won the match 1-0. Germany won the $35 million prize money, the second highest prize money in all of football. The most famous FIFA superstars are Lionel Messi from Argentina, Jams Rodriguez from Colombia, Thomas Muller of Germany and Neymar Jr. of Brazil.
3. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor 2017
Total Prize Money: $700 Million
Winner: $300 Million – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Boxing events are huge events in terms of prize money, mainly because of the pay-per-view format. Most sporting events in the US do not have that, and this is where boxing gets most of its prize money. Prior to 2017, the highest ever paying boxing match was held in 2015. This was an historic match-up between the then best pound-for-pound boxer Manny Pacquiao and undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. This sporting event gathered a total of $410 million and Mayweather received $250 million as the winner. This was a world record, only to be shattered two years later by the same athlete.
The monumental and controversial bout between an undefeated boxing champion and the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world happened in August 27, 2017. UFC Champion Conor McGregor and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. faced each other and went at it for ten grueling rounds. Of course, Floyd “Money” Mayweather came out on top with a decisive TKO.
Boxing may not have another bout as big as this one, unless Mayweather fights again. Perhaps a Mayweather vs McGregor 2 or even Mayweather vs Pacquiao 2 would be as equally great.
2. Formula One Racing 2017
Total Prize Money: $1.38 Billion
Winner: $180 Million – Mercedes
F1 or Formula One is the fastest racing competition in the world. It is the most intense and also the longest racing event, spanning months until a winner is declared. Formula One is the term they use for the process of constructing a racecar based on league specifications. This sporting event started in 1950 in the United Kingdom and is now a worldwide spectacle with circuits on five continents.
Participants in this tournament are called Constructors. There are currently ten Constructors in F1: Ferrari, Force India, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Sauber, Scuderia Toro Rosso, and Williams. The Constructor with the best record is Ferrari and this is largely because of Michael Schumacher. Schumacher is also the best driver in terms of championships with seven World Drivers’ Championship titles. The 2017 F1 World Championship garnered a total prize money of $1.38 billion, the highest the tournament has ever had. The winner was driver Lewis Hamilton for Constructor Mercedes. Hamilton and Mercedes received the champion prize money of $180 million.
The 2018 season started on March 25th in Melbourne, Australia, and will end in Abu Dhabi in November. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are still the heavy favorite to win.
1. UEFA Champions League 2017
Total Prize Money: $1.47 Billion
Winner: $95.7 Million – Real Madrid
The biggest, richest, and highest sporting event in the world is a football competition. After all these years, football is still the most famous sport in the world, as evidenced by the four sporting events in this top ten list. The UEFA Champions League started in 1955 and has been going on for 63 years. This tournament covers Europe only. It is held annually with 32 football clubs competing for the richest prize money in the world. Teams have to go through three qualifying rounds, a play-off round, a knockout round, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the finals.
2017 marked the league’s highest ever total prize money of $1.47 billion. The winningest team in the league’s history is Real Madrid, coincidentally they are the current champion as well. They won the 2016-2017 tournament and took home the prize money of $95.7 million. This is Real Madrid’s twelfth title. The second best team is Milan with seven championships. Three teams tie at third place, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Liverpool, with 5 championships each. Current UEFA Champions League superstars are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The next season’s competition proper starts September 12,, 2018. Expect a higher total prize money for the biggest and richest sports event in the world. Where do we go for tryouts? Sign me up, please!