Richest prize money in sport

With the 2015 Cricket World Cup set to start this coming weekend (14 February), the Proteas will be looking for a large chunk of a US$10.2 million prize pool.

The total winnings available for the tournament is a 20% increase from the pool in 2011, with the victorious team pocketing US$4 million, while the runners-up will net US$1.75 million.

And while the Indian Premier League (IPL) has gate crashed the ‘gentleman’s game’ over the past few seasons, it only comes with a total purse of $4.82 million (300 million rupees) – $2.1 million going to the winners, and $1.3 million going to the second placed team.

When compared to other major sporting tournaments around the world, cricket’s payout is rather modest.

In 2014,  The Players Championship and the PGA Championship shared the title of having the richest purses in golf, with each tournament offering $10 million in prize money.

Rory McIlroy claimed $1.8 million first-place purse for winning the PGA Championship last year.

Introduced in 2007, the FedExCup is a championship trophy for the PGA Tour. The player with the most points after the Tour Championship wins the FedExCup itself and $10 million of a $35 million bonus fund. The runner-up gets $3 million, with 3rd place pocketing $2 million.

Forbes noted that in four decades, total purse money on the PGA Tour had gone from $5.5 million to $279 million in 2012, spread over 45 events.

Top sporting event prize pools

By far, Formula One offers the biggest prize pool in sport.

Across the entire F1 season, racers split a US$700 million cash pool – though the figure has never been officially confirmed as such.

According to reports citing sources within F1 racing, 50% of the total prize pool is split equally among the top 10 teams, with the other 50% awarded on merit – this is after a US$17 million payout to Ferrari on special contractual terms.

Each top 10 team gets around $34 million, plus an allocation based on where they finish. In 2013, top team, Red Bull, banked a reported $100 million.

Following on F1, both the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League offer the most sizable winnings, splitting the prize pools based on participation, as well as final placement in the tournaments.

Teams get paid per win, and per draw, and get a set fee based on the level at which they drop out, or finish in.

In the 2014 World Cup, FIFA paid each team a $1.5 million participation fee, with the winning team walking off with $35 million.

And in 2012, the total prize money for the final tournament of the Euro European Football Championship was $223 million (EUR196 million). Winners, Spain won $26.1 million (EUR23 million), followed by Italy $22.1 million (EUR19.5 million), and Germany $18.2 million (EUR16 million).

Sport Event Total Prize Pool (US$)
Formula One $700 million
FIFA World Cup 2014 $576 million
UEFA Champions League $567 million
UEFA Europa League $223 million
World Series of Poker $62.8 million
Wimbledon 2014 $38.1 million
NBA $14 million
2014 Dota 2 International $10.9 million
Cricket world cup 2015 $10.2 million
PGA Tour 2014 $10 million
NFL $6.5 million
Rugby World Cup N/A

The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas comes with a $10 million prize for the winner, and a total prize pool of $62.8 million.

Perhaps surprisingly is the prize money attached to e-sport events, such as the Dota 2. The International tournament, which offered a total pool of $10.9 million to players in 2014, saw the winners, in a team of five, walking off with over US$1 million each.

The NFL Superbowl is a tricky competition to tally up total winnings for. Each player gets a payout based on their individual contracts and how the overall team performs in each game.

According to, in a typica; NFL season players get paid per game, per division, with the Super Bowl winner taking home $92,000 per player, and the losers taking $46,000.

Taking individual payment across teams of 11, for all NFL playoff matches ending with the Super Bowl, the NFL prize pool totals around $6.5 million.

Notably, there is no prize money on offer in the Rugby World Cup, only the awarding of the Webb Ellis Cup to the victorious team.

Players do however receive monetary rewards for their efforts during the tournament, through sponsorships leading up to and following the event, and incentives by their respective unions.

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Richest prize money in sport