Biggest Prize Money In Sports: What Are The Richest Prize Pools In Sports?

It’s no secret that there is plenty of money in sports. Many of the biggest brands in the world pour billions into the industry to get their logo plastered around stadiums and on TV screens, while television networks around the globe do the same to secure broadcast rights. The result is that plenty of people involved in sports earn a whole lot of cash, including, of course, the athletes. From soccer to motor sports, from tennis to poker, many sports around the world see the winners go home with an unfathomable amount of cash, so let’s take a look at the biggest prize pools in some of the most profitable sports in the world. Note that monetary values are in USD. 


Biggest Prize Money Soccer – Champions League: $1.8bn

Unsurprisingly, The World Game pulls in plenty of money, and boasts more than its fair share of leagues with prize pools which are among the largest in the world for any sporting event. Each of the UEFA Europa League, Euros and the FIFA World Cup have prize pools in the hundreds of millions, but it’s the UEFA Champions League which sits atop both soccer and sport moreover as the most financially fruitful event in the world. 

In total, around $1.3 billion USD is up for grabs in the Champions League. Clubs earn an additional fixed sum for each successive round that they advance to; just for making it to the group stage that total sits at around $15 million, while the winner as of 2021/22 would be looking at closer to $100 million. Not a bad pay day.  


Biggest Prize Money Motor Racing – Formula 1: $797.5m

Motor racing might be a little more niche in the eyes of many than the likes of soccer or many other major team sports, but Formula 1 is nonetheless hugely popular around the globes, and there is a huge amount of money pumping through its proverbial veins. As of 2022, the total prize pool for F1 sits at approximately $797.5 million; clearly a huge amount and among the top figures in the world, but incredibly only a little over 60% of what’s up for grabs in the aforementioned Champions League.

Rather than being paid to individual drivers, however, this prize money is paid to teams, which in turn pay their drivers salaries. Each team which competes in the F1 season is given a base payment of $35 million, before performance in a given season dictates how much extra they get on top of that – and then bonuses are also added to the mix. Ferrari, for example, ended up with a little over $200 million last season courtesy in no small part of a $114 million bonus, while Mercedes sat just behind them with $177 million.


Biggest Prize Money Baseball – MLB: $109m 

There’s a pretty significant drop off following the aforementioned two sports, but Major League Baseball players aren’t exactly struggling to feed their families. In total there’s close to $109 million up for grabs over the course of an MLB season, but although it’s still a mind-boggling amount, it’s a little more understandable given that these teams play 162 games in the regular season alone. 

 In the 2022 season, the winning team will pull in a cool $37 million of that, or a little over 34% of the total prize pool. The runner-up, while having to deal with the heartbreak of falling at the last hurdle, will no doubt be placated somewhat by the $25 million they pull in, while League Champions and runners-up each earn $12 million. 


Biggest Prize Money Poker – World Series of Poker: $82m

It might not fit in with the traditional perception of ‘sport’, but whatever you want to refer to it as, those good enough to compete at the top level in poker have the capacity to earn money in spades. The prize pool for the World Series of Poker Main Event varies a little from year to year and generally goes up, though the biggest prize pool in history was actually at the 2006 event, in which American Jamie Gold won $12 million as the winner from a prize pool of over $82 million.

The 2022 prize pool fell just short of that, but not by much, and did still boast the second biggest prize pool of any poker tournament in history. In total, there was just under $81 million up for grabs, and after nearly two months of competition it was Norwegian Espen Jørstad who ended victorious and went home with $10 million. He joined Germany’s Hossein Ensan, who won in 2019, as the winner of the second highest prize money amount in that event’s history, though that has been bettered by a couple of alternative events over the years. The 2019 Triton Super High Roller Series – Triton Million, for example, saw the prize pool for first and second split, with Aaron Zang taking home close to $17 million and Bryn Kennedy winning over $20 million.


Biggest Prize Money Tennis – US Open: $60m 

Tennis events might not have prize pools to match the likes of the Champions League, but in terms of individual salaries the guys and girls grunting their way around Flushing Meadows, Melbourne Park and the like are right up there. The US Open and Australian Open typically lead the charge with Wimbledon and Roland Garros not far behind, and the prize pool for all four majors is growing fairly significantly each and every year. 

In 2022, the total prize money for the US Open for the first time hit the $60 million mark. The winners for both the men’s and women’s singles events took home a cool $2.6 million for their two weeks’ work, the runners-up got half that, while those knocked out in the first round still got $80,000. For doubles, the winners earned $688,000, while mixed doubles winners got a little less – albeit still a more than handy paycheck of $163,000


Biggest Prize Money Golf – LIV Golf London Invitational: $25m 

Golf has long been a lucrative sport for the select few who make it to the top, and with the introduction of the LIV Tour this year that’s never been more true than it is now. In 2022, the biggest of the historical tournaments in a financial sense will be the Players Championship, in which $20 million is up for grabs and the winner pulls in $3.6 million. For each of The Masters, PGA Championship, BMW Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship, that prize pool sits at $15 million, with winners earning $2.7 million. 

 Those are some hefty numbers, but the Greg Norman-led, Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Tour has quickly surpassed them. The first ever tournament in the LIV Golf Invitational Series was the LIV Golf Invitational London, which took place in June of this year, and when it did it skyrocketed ahead of all the above tournaments to become the most lucrative golfing event in the world. A total of $25 million was up for grabs in that one, with the winner earning $4 million and the minimum payout for finishers sitting at $120,00.


Biggest Prize Money Race Horse Racing – Saudi Cup: $20m

Horse racing isn’t colloquially referred to as The Sport of Kings for no reason. Historically, it was popular among the financially elite of British society, and though it doesn’t always have the same association now, the prize money available for the biggest races around the world hint at a sport which plenty of money flows through. The most profitable for successful participants is the Saudi Cup, a race which has been run just three times after starting in 2020. That one has a prize pool of $20 million, with the winner treated to half of that at $10 million.

Sitting not too far below the Saudi Cup is The Everest, a part of the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival. The Everest is the richest race on turf in the world and the richest in Australia, and in 2022 will see 12 runners compete for their share of $15 million. Taking place in mid-October, the race is run over 1,200 metres, and associates of the winner will go home with a casual $6.2 million.  </span

Sport is, at its essence, a form of entertainment, and it’s the bums that it gets on seats and eyes that it gets on screens which ultimately lead to the huge sums of money up for grabs in so many different sports. Soccer, clearly, leads the way – unsurprising given those eyes on screens come from all over the planet – but while the Champions League sits way out on top in terms of total prize pools, there are plenty of other events in which participants go home with extraordinary money. And that’s not likely to change any time soon. Almost exclusively, the prize pools mentioned above are only going up, and will likely continue to do so in the years to come.