Due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, most of the 2020 tournaments have been postponed. Hence, this list is partially updated as of now.
I think you will agree with me when I say a career in sports today is unlike anything it used to be.
Television broadcasts and the consequent competition among broadcasters have driven boatloads of money to the world of sports.
I am not exactly a sports aficionado, but, I do like the other dynamics, especially financial, that sports of today bring to the table. Personally, I like watching football. I think I have mentioned somewhere in my profile about my love for the beautiful game.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that FIFA tournaments are some of the biggest money-spinners and FIFA, the richest sports organization in the world.
This is owing to their ever expansive global fan base. While the status of football as the insurmountable force remains undisputed, other sports such as poker, horse-racing, and motorsports are also upping their ante.
The following list of the top ten richest sporting events is a result of my second-hand research. I have applied the Total Prize Money filter to draw this list. Just for clarity: a) Figures in the brackets indicate the ‘Prize pool’ for the whole tournament and b) all figures are for the most recently held tournaments.
So without further ado, here are the top ten richest sporting events in the world:
10. US Open Golf ($12.50 million)
The US Open Golf tournament pips the British Open this time for 2nd year in a row. The prize money for the British Open moved up slightly to $10.75 million compared to $10.5 million last year.
The prize money for the US Open would be split among 79 golfers with the winner expected to bag $2.25 million.
That said, due to Covid-19 situation, the tournament stands postponed and might be held in September’20 now.
9. Dubai World Cup ($35 million)
Organized by the Dubai Racing Club, Dubai World Cup is the richest race meeting on the planet. The total prize pool of $35 million was spread across 9 races. The grand prize of the night carried a staggering $12 million payday.
Until last year, Dubai had a tough competition from the Pegasus World Cup. The grand prize of Florida based race was $16 million in 2018, however, it dropped to $9 million in 2019.
The Dubai World Cup clearly rules the roost with an overall $35 million kitty and grand prize of $12 million.
The 2020 tournament has been cancelled due to Covid-19 situation.
8. FedExCup ($60 million)
The PGA tour championship culminates into Fedex playoffs competition every year since 2007.
Once the tour is over, the top 125 players get into a progressive, four-phase elimination competition – The Northern Trust championship (125 players), the Dell Technologies Championship (100 players), the BMW championship (70 players).
The first three playoffs cut down the number of players to 30 who then enter the last playoff, the Tour championship called the FedExCup.
The four playoffs will offer a total purse of $35 million in 2018, up from $32 million of last year. The winner of the FedExCup will walk away with $15 million, $5 million higher than 2018 purse.
Tiger Woods happens to be the only golfer to have won the FedExCup twice – in 2007 and 2009.
7. US Open 2019 ($57.3 million)
Contrary to popular perception, the Wimbledon tournament held in England every year is not the most remunerative one. The US open pips its English counterpart in the world’s richest sporting events.
The 2019 tournament, as reported, had the record prize pool of $57.3 million.
The year 2019 saw a price hike of 13% vis-a-vis 2018. Both winners, Rafael Nadal (men’s) and B. Andreescu (women’s) banked the cheque of $3.85 million each.
6. The World Series Championship ($66 million)
The World Series is the annual championship of MLB (Major League Baseball). Don’t be fooled by the name though. Despite being called the World Series, the tournament is restricted to North America and is played amongst all-American teams.
When it comes to splurging prize money, MLB beats the other US sports leagues like NFL, NBA and MLS. The estimated prize pool for the 2017 championship was $66 million.
5. World Series of Poker ($74 million)
This one totally blew my brains. I know that professional poker players make loads of money but I never thought a poker tournament will be one of the richest sporting events.
The annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas offers an astounding sum of money. The tournament prize purse went up from $68 million in 2017 to $74 million in 2018.
The 2018 winner John Cynn walked away with a jaw-dropping $8.80 million in award money.
4. FIFA World Cup ($400 million)
FIFA World Cup secures the place of the most spectacular, hi-decibel event in the world of sports. The buzz generated around the event is unparalleled. The first World Cup was played in 1930 and ever since, it has been held after every 4 years, of course, barring a few exceptions in between.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup broke all the previous records. The prize pool increased to $400 million this time – a hike of $42 million from 2014 edition’s $358 million.
In 2014, the winners Germany had taken home $35 million. France, the current Champions, in contrast, won $38 million.
3. UEFA Europa League 2018/19 ($629 million)
2017/18 edition: ($469 million)
Europa League for years has served the second fiddle to the much bigger Champions League competition. Every year in May, with the respective conclusion of seasons in various leagues, fans get to know where their favorite clubs would play.
Honestly, a qualification for Europa League barely creates a buzz unless your team has never qualified for Europe or is qualifying after many years.
Despite the League not enjoying the same stature as the Champions League, the financial part doesn’t look all that bad. The best part is it continues to grow. The 2018/19 season saw the total prize money go up by almost $200 million.
This figure of $629 million for 2018/19 edition includes both the fixed payments and the media rights money.
Chelsea, the winners of the 2018/19 Europa League banked $9.55 million for coming out tops in the final. Overall, the club is expected to have taken home $50 million including both the fixed money and the media rights payments.
2. Formula One ($1 billion)
2018 – $921 million
The total prize pool for 2019 Formula One season is projected to rise up to over $1 billion after two flat years.
Curiously, Formula one follows a secret revenue distribution formula designed by the former CEO Bernie Ecclestone.
Scuderia Ferrari, apparently, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this formula.
Despite the fact tha it has’t won a single championship in the last decade, Ferrari tops the earnings chart every year. It receives a special cut from the revenues for its long-term contribution to the sport. The 2019 cut is being pegged at $73 million.
1. UEFA Champions League 2018/19 ($2.29 billion)
2017/18 edition: ($1.52 billion)
The big one. The insurmountable. The richest sporting event. The glamorous parade of the best football clubs on planet Earth. UEFA’s elite tournament brings together 32 of the best football clubs in nine months long competition.
Unlike other competitions, the mathematics behind the prize money is a little complex. That is unless you are an ardent football fan, you know. The lush Champions league money pool of $2.29 billion went by almost $80 million.
Liverpool who were crowned the European champions this time are expected to have received around $125 million for their superlative performance during the entire tournament.