Do you love bowling so much that you want to pursue bowling as a profession? If you do, you must wonder if bowling can cover your living expenses or has financial perks like other popular sports. Maybe you are an advanced bowler who wants to compete in major tournaments and earn some attractive prize money. Well, it is certainly possible if you are really good at bowling. However, unless you have become the top bowler in the country, pro-bowling can’t give a hefty salary or lucrative sponsorship deals. It is because bowling is not among the most popular sports, but it has a large number of enthusiastic people. Let’s find out how much do pro bowlers make money.
How Much Do Pro Bowlers Make
The average salary of Professional Bowlers in this decade
The 1960s and 1970s are considered the peak of professional bowling. During that time, the average bowler earned twice as much as NFL stars of the time. The Professional Bowlers’ Association was thriving then, and PBA bowlers earned a fortune from side gigs, sponsorships, and tournament payouts. Some of these bowlers became celebrities while signing million-dollar deals. Many young people started bowling with the dream of becoming bowling celebrities in the 1960s and 1970s.
A pro bowler’s annual salary is much lower nowadays. Pro bowling no longer has the rapid earning potential it once did due to a decline in popularity and television ratings. According to recent estimates, bowlers with a PBA membership earn between $45,000 and $50,000 per year, not including sponsorships. The best bowlers, such as Walter Ray Williams Jr., earn much more, with the average top pro bowler earning between $250,000 and $300,000 per year. The golden era of bowling no longer exists, and bowling salaries don’t come anywhere near to popular sports salaries like football or tennis. Still, if you’re skilled and know what you’re doing, bowling can be a lucrative professional sport.
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Pro Bowler’s Ways to make a living
Professional bowlers work as independent contractors. While they participate in PBA events as PBA Tour members, they do not have binding contracts like athletes in team-based professional sports organizations. Unless they have a sponsorship agreement that states otherwise, professional bowlers cover their living expenses, travel expenses, and entry fees. So, it depends on the pro bowlers on how he will focus on earning opportunities. As an additional source of income, some pro and semi-pro bowlers invest in or purchase a bowling center, coordinating everything from cosmic bowling to league nights.
Other bowlers generate enough money from winning or placing in tournaments to cover their expenses. In addition, most PBA bowlers have a sponsorship deal or multiple deals that provide free bowling accessories for practice, extra cash, and PBA Tour play. You may not see bowlers on the cover of Sports Illustrated often or score lucrative deals with Coca-Cola. However, they still have numerous opportunities to capitalize on their expertise. Other sources of income for PBA bowlers include competing in local bowling tournaments and working secondary jobs in a related or unrelated field.
What is the typical prize money for professional bowling competitions?
It is entirely dependent on the tournament. A bowler’s earnings from a particular tournament are determined by the type of tournament. The amount of prize money available, and their finish order. In some PBA tournaments and semi-pro events, only the top finishers receive money, while the vast majority of bowlers leave empty-handed. Even if a bowler played fairly well but did not reach the top positions, they might not make enough money to pay for their flights home. Other tournaments are much more generous, paying out $5,000 to $10,000 to bowlers who are eliminated in the first round.
Based on sponsorships and attendance, a high-profile bowling showcase in New York State might have more money to distribute, whereas a low-key event in Nebraska might need to find inventive ways with its payout structures. Payouts may differ in other nations depending on the level of bowling affluence and the tournament’s reputation. PBA major tournaments offer a lot more money to the winners. For instance, in 2021, A record-breaking $1 million prize pool and a massive $250,000 payout for the winner were offered at the PBA Players’ Championship. The winners of most high-profile competitions receive between $50,000 and $100,000, with the runner-up receiving roughly half of that. From there, payouts for additional placements get smaller.
Sponsorship Opportunities of Pro Bowlers
As a form of sponsorship, bowlers can earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to cover the cost of a bowling ball to thousands of dollars by sporting a logo on their shirts. In addition, some bowlers have sponsors who pay their entry fees and living expenses, allowing them to save money as the PBA Tour season progresses. These agreements frequently include a clause requiring the bowler to share earnings if he or she wins a tournament.
You can pursue a professional career if you are both passionate and skilled in bowling. But as with most sports, you shouldn’t expect sponsorships and an attractive salary without making it to the top. Having a secondary earning source while starting as a professional bowler can be a wise start for anyone.