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How Much Do Pro Bowlers Make? Salaries in 2024 Revealed!

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Bowling is considered one of America’s favorite pastimes, with over 70 million people heading to the lanes to knock down pins each year. But only an elite few ever go pro and compete at the highest levels.

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) serves as the major organization that oversees competitive bowling at the professional level. The top PBA bowlers possess incredible precision, power, focus, and consistency to throw strikes at will.

While it takes immense dedication and skill to succeed, those who make it to the upper echelon of pro bowling can earn a lucrative living through tournament winnings, endorsements, and other income sources.

Just how much do the top professional bowlers get paid? What types of endorsement deals can top pros land? This article will provide a comprehensive overview of how much money professional bowlers can make through competitive play and sponsorships.

PBA Tour Tournament Winnings

The main source of income for pro bowlers comes from competing in Professional Bowlers Association tournaments.

The PBA hosts a regular tour season from January through July each year, with events taking place across the United States.

Major tournaments on the calendar include:

  • PBA Players Championship – Offering a top prize of $100,000
  • U.S. Open – With a top-earner payout of $75,000
  • PBA World Championship – Featuring a $60,000 top reward
  • PBA Tournament of Champions – Providing a $100,000 top check
  • PBA Playoffs – Offering a $100,000 prize for first place

The total purse size for regular PBA tour stops usually ranges from $150,000 to $260,000. Of this prize pool, around 30-40% is awarded to the winner.

This means top bowlers can earn payouts of $50,000 to over $100,000 for winning one major tournament.

Throughout a full season, the bowlers who perform the best on tour can take home substantial earnings. Looking at recent seasons, here is a breakdown of the total winnings of the leading money winners:

  • 2021 PBA Tour Season – Leading money winner Chris Via took home $165,635
  • 2020 PBA Tour Season – Top earner Anthony Simonsen won $188,670
  • 2019 PBA Tour Season – Jason Belmonte won the most with $238,229
  • 2018 PBA Tour Season – The top-paid player was Andrew Anderson with $152,670

As you can see, the bowler who earns the most prize money in a given season usually takes home between $150,000 to $250,000.

To remain in competition, players need to finish highly in events consistently. In addition to tournament winnings, bowlers can earn bonus money through the PBA Playoffs and other special events held during the World Series of Bowling.

Additional PBA Tour Compensation

Beyond their tournament winnings, professional bowlers also have chances to earn additional prize money through other PBA Tour programs:

Motivational Fund – Bowlers are rewarded based on their 12-month point rankings, with the top half receiving bonus checks. This can add tens of thousands in extra earnings annually.

PBA League – As part of 5-player teams, a share of the $100,000 total team fund is awarded.

World Bowling Tour Finals – Top performers earn bonus money for accumulated points.

PBA Regional Tour – Numerous smaller tournaments with prizes from $5,000 up to $10,000.

These programs provide bowlers with supplemental earnings on top of their main tour winnings to boost their overall income from competitive play.

Endorsements and Sponsorships

For standout players, endorsements and sponsorships represent another major source of income beyond just tournament winnings.

As they build their brand and profile, top pros can land lucrative deals to represent major bowling brands. Equipment and apparel companies will offer contracts to the bowlers who perform well consistently on tour.

Some of the endorsement deals that elite players have landed include:

  • Jason Belmonte – Reportedly earned over $1 million from various sponsors including Storm Bowling, Turbo Grips, Vise, Moxy Muscle, and more.
  • Norm Duke – Has been a recognized face of Storm Bowling products for years.
  • Sean Rash – Has been sponsored by Storm, Turbo Grips, and Nike among others.
  • EJ Tackett – Signed endorsement deals with Storm, Turbo, and Trouper Beachwear.

Based on their fame and titles, top bowlers can earn between $100,000 to $500,000 per year from major endorsement deals and partnerships.

Bowling-related brands need elite pros to use and promote their equipment, which they happily pay for through lucrative sponsorships.

Earnings on Other Tours

While the PBA Tour offers the most lucrative purses for men, professional bowlers also have opportunities to cash in through other tours and events.

The Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) holds a yearly tour for female competitors. Though smaller purses than the men’s tour, prizes can still exceed $20,000 for winning a major tournament.

There are also tours based in Europe, Japan, Korea, and other countries. Players expand their earning potential by entering international events when possible.

Major tournaments like the QubicaAMF World Cup and Weber Cup provide substantial payouts for winning bowlers. Pros may also earn money through special invitational events, TV competitions, local tournaments, and more.

While PBA tour earnings make up the bulk for most, supplementing with other tours provides bowlers with additional income sources annually.

Career Earnings

Over years of grinding through competitions, the top pro bowlers accumulate substantial career earnings. Performing at an elite level year after year requires remarkable skill and stamina.

Some bowlers compete into their 50s, continuing to earn winnings well past the typical retirement age. Here’s a look at a few of the top money winners over their storied careers:

  • Walter Ray Williams Jr. – Has won over $6 million during his iconic career spanning decades.
  • Norm Duke – Career PBA earnings of $5.8 million over 30+ years of competing.
  • Pete Weber – Has won over $5.6 million over a supremely successful career since 1980.
  • Jason Belmonte – In 16 years on tour, has amassed over $2.2 million in winnings so far.

As they rack up titles and prize checks, the top pros can accrue multi-million dollar career earnings during their time on tour.

Maintaining consistency and competitiveness for decades helps them climb the ranks of all-time money leaders.

In Conclusion

Becoming a professional bowler requires immense patience, practice, and skill development from a young age. But those who do ascend to the top levels of the sport have the chance to earn substantial incomes.

Through a combination of tour winnings, endorsements, motivational funds, and other earnings, the top PBA bowlers take home well over $100,000 on average each year. Multi-million dollar career earners are not uncommon after years of sustained excellence.

While no exact salary exists, competitive pro bowlers stand to earn low six figures or more annually through their performances and sponsor deals.

Elite champions who maintain success can approach or exceed one million dollars in total compensation at the peak of their careers.

Though it is an exclusive club, the financial upside of professional bowling stardom is certainly compelling.

The next generation of bowling phenoms can aspire to follow the greats who have managed to make quite a nice living off throwing strikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money can a bowler make?

The top PBA bowlers can make $100,000 to over $250,000 per year through a combination of tournament winnings, endorsements, special funds, and sponsorship deals. Over a long career, earnings can exceed $1 million.

Can you make a living out of bowling?

Yes, the best professional bowlers in the PBA make a good living through tournament winnings and endorsements. However, it is difficult to make bowling a livable career for most. Only the top competitors earn the big prize checks.

What are the PBA lifetime earnings?

Walter Ray Williams Jr. holds the record for all-time career earnings in the PBA with over $6 million over several decades of competing. Several other top pros have surpassed $5 million in total earnings.

What is the payout for the Pro Bowling Championship 2023?

In 2022, the PBA Tour Finals top prize was $100,000. The 2023 event will likely feature a similar total purse and payout for 1st place.

Can anyone be a pro bowler?

Not exactly. It takes immense skill developed from years of training starting at a young age. Only a tiny fraction of bowlers have the talent to reach the competitive skill level demanded by the PBA Tour.

Do pro bowlers pay for balls?

No, the top professionals are sponsored by major bowling balls brands like Storm, Hammer, and Ebonite. As part of endorsement deals, they receive free equipment.

Can bowling be a career?

For a small number of extremely talented bowlers, professional competition can be a career. But it is extremely difficult and only the elite few can earn a living solely from bowling.

Is bowling an expensive sport?

Bowling can be somewhat expensive due to equipment costs, lane fees, and travel required for competition. Financial support is often needed to pursue it seriously.

How do you become a PBA pro bowler?

It takes years of training and experience plus success in lower-level competitions. Joining the PBA, competing on smaller tours, and performing well at the PBA Qualifying School can lead to getting on the pro tour.