At first glance, Egan Bernal's €500,000 [$557,852 USD] prize for winning the 2019 Tour de France seems like a fine pay check for three weeks' work. But the prize, which the 22-year-old Colombian will share with his Team Ineos teammates, pales in comparison to the rewards provided to winners of other major sporting events.
In total, the Tour de France prize purse is €2,245,800 [$2,505,493], split among the general classification riders, points and mountains classification winners, best young rider, daily stage winners and jersey wearers, and the various intermediate sprints and KOMs along the way. Each rider in the Tour – GC places 20-160 – also gets €1,000 [$1,115.70] for their troubles. That total prize purse is a relatively small amount of money when it's spread between riders, staff and others who get a slice of the pie.
In case you missed it, last week a 16-year-old gamer named Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf won first place at the 'Fortnite Solo World Cup' in New York City, taking home $3 million in prize money after beating 99 other players in the videogame finals. But even more traditional sporting events put the Tour's prize list to shame.
In a list of the top-10 richest sporting events in the world – compiled by Amitesh Jasrotia for BookJelly.com – the Tour's prize list doesn't even enter as a rounding error.
The US Open golf tournament comes in at number 10 with a $12.5 million prize list, but the amounts go up fast form there. The Dubai World Cup, a series of nine horse races, offers a $35 million purse. Golf's FedEx Cup has a total prize purse worth $60 million, although the final 34 players in the series of tournaments share $35 million, with the winner taking home a cool $15 million.
In tennis, the US Open in New York City registers the richest prize purse at $53 million. In 2018, men's and women's winners Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens took home $3.7 million each. Baseball wins the battle of America's ball sports, offering $66 million to the participants in the 2017 World Series. Another 'World Series', this time for poker, pays out $74 million. The 2018 winner took in $8.8 million.
The FIFA World Cup weighs in as the financial behemoth one would expect, with a total prize pool at $400 million in 2018. The UEFA Europa League reportedly paid out $629 million in 2018-19, with league winners Chelsea banking $9.55 million. The prize pool for Formula One racing is projected to top $1 billion this year, while the UEFA Champions League prize pool is $2.29 billion.
The Tour is simply not in the same 'league' as these other events, and the sport of cycling in general suffers from a lack of financing and income that drives the high salaries and big purses in other sports.
Nearly 300 NBA players make more in a season than the entire Tour de France prize purse. The Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry tops the NBA salary list at $40,231,758. In Baseball, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg brings in $38,333,334 per season, and more than 370 MLB players each make more than the entire Tour prize list. In the NFL, 295 players make more than the Tour de France prize list, with quarterback Kirk Cousins topping the list at $22,500,000 per year.
European football players are also in the elite league, with Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez reportedly topping them all at $21.5 million annually.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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