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How Much Do Pro Bowlers Make Per Tournament? The Shocking Payouts Revealed!

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Bowling may seem like a casual hobby to most, but for professional bowlers, it’s a way of life.

The top athletes in the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) compete in tournaments year-round with hopes of taking home lucrative prize purses and coveted titles.

But just how much money can pro bowlers make at major tournaments?

Payout structures vary based on the type and prominence of each event, but payouts frequently reach five or six figures for the top finishers.

For context, the PBA offers over $6 million in total prize money annually across hundreds of events.

While it takes immense skill to succeed, the financial upside of professional bowling is higher than many realize.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down typical payouts for different levels of PBA tournaments and reveal just how much pro bowlers can make per event when they are at the top of their game.

How Payouts Are Structured in PBA Tournaments

Before diving into earnings, it’s helpful to understand how prize money is distributed in professional bowling events.

Payout percentages and numbers of players paid vary based on the type, size, and prominence of each tournament. However, there are some common structures:

  • Major tournaments usually pay the top 25% or 33% of the field.
  • Smaller events may only pay the top 10 or 15 finishers.
  • Payouts are graduated, with the winner earning the largest percentage (around 30%), the runner-up earning less (around 20%), and payments decreasing from there.
  • Regional events have lower purses and flatter payouts spread across more finishers.

For example, a tournament with 100 entries and a $100,000 prize fund may pay out like:

1st Place: $30,000 (30%)

2nd Place: $20,000 (20%)

3rd Place: $15,000 (15%)

4th Place: $10,000 (10%)

5th Place: $8,000 (8%)

6th-10th Place: $5,000 (5% each)

11th-25th Place: $2,000 (2% each)

Payout structures reward those at the very top, while still distributing prize money deeper into the field.

Major tournaments offer the biggest purses and highest prizes for winners.

Typical Payouts for Different PBA Tournaments

Now let’s look at the potential winnings up for grabs at various levels of PBA events.

Major Tournaments: $30,000+ for 1st Place

The PBA’s marquee tournaments offer the richest prizes and most prestige. These “majors” include the USBC Masters, U.S. Open, PBA Tournament of Champions, and PBA World Championship.

With first-place prizes reaching $30,000 or more, these high-profile majors give the top stars a chance to win big. Recent examples:

  • 2022 U.S. Open: $60,000 to winner Anthony Simonsen
  • 2022 PBA World Championship: $60,000 to winner E.J. Tackett
  • 2021 PBA Tournament of Champions: $30,000 to winner Kyle Troup

These big-money events can vault a player’s season earnings with one hot week.

Regular PBA Tour Stops: $20,000+ for 1st

The core events on the PBA Tour calendar are the 30-40 standard tournaments that make up the winter and summer seasons. These competitions comprise the bulk of the schedule.

While not quite as lucrative as the majors, PBA Tour stops still offer large five-figure prizes to winners, usually $20,000 and up. Some recent examples:

  • 2022 PBA Houston Open: $30,000 to winner Anthony Simonsen
  • 2022 PBA Indianapolis Open: $20,000 to winner Jakob Butturff
  • 2021 PBA Reno Open: $20,000 to winner Tom Daugherty

With skilled play, a professional bowler can rack up several tour victories per season and build substantial winnings.

Regional Events: $5,000 to $7,500 for 1st

Below the main PBA Tour are the PBA’s regional circuits held across the U.S.

These weekend events have smaller fields and prize funds, making them accessible for up-and-coming pros.

Payouts at regional competitions are much smaller compared to the premier events.

A typical regional PBA tournament will award between $5,000 and $7,500 to the winner.

But they offer crucial experience and rankings points for qualifiers aspiring to reach the big leagues.

While the paydays aren’t enormous, stacking several regional titles over a season provides a healthy income for bowlers earlier in their careers.

Total Season Earnings for Top PBA Bowlers

To further illustrate the earning potential in professional bowling, here’s a look at the total season incomes of the PBA’s top stars:

  • Jason Belmonte: $288,338 (2022), $165,637 (2021)
  • Anthony Simonsen: $219,750 (2022), $163,490 (2021)
  • Kyle Troup: $185,955 (2022), $166,657 (2021)
  • E.J. Tackett: $182,490 (2022), $152,672 (2021)
  • Tom Daugherty: $140,280 (2022), $113,800 (2021)
  • Chris Via: $122,930 (2022), $96,595 (2021)

The list shows the top players in the PBA earning well over $100,000 per year from tournaments.

Simonsen and Troup each banked over $350,000 in combined 2020-2021 earnings.

The all-time PBA career titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. has amassed over $3.8 million in total career earnings during his illustrious pro bowling career.

While not quite at the levels of top athletes in other pro sports, the best bowlers in the world can earn a very healthy living through competition winnings alone.

Additional Income Sources for Pro Bowlers

Tournament winnings, however large, are not the only income sources for world-class bowlers. Endorsements, incentives, and other opportunities can provide a big earnings boost.

Sponsorship Deals

Being among the best opens doors for lucrative equipment and sponsorship deals.

Top PBA stars can earn between $200,000 to over $1 million annually in endorsements.

Chris Barnes, Sean Rash, and Jason Belmonte are among those with rich sponsor deals supplementing their competition winnings.

Performance Bonuses

Beyond tournament prizes, bowlers can earn bonus payouts by meeting certain performance goals over a season.

Belmonte has reportedly earned up to $100,000 in season-long bonuses.

Public Appearances

There are always opportunities to make paid appearances, sign autographs, run clinics, and more as a bowling celebrity. While harder to quantify, this income can add up over a career.


Some top players invest tournament winnings into bowling centers, pro shops, or other business ventures to build their income. Barnes co-owns a successful bowling supply company.

Compare Pro Bowler Salaries to Expenses

While professional bowlers have avenues to earn sizeable incomes, the profession also comes with considerable costs. Annual expenses include:

  • Travel – Airfare, hotels, meals, transportation. Bowlers trek worldwide to enter PBA events.
  • Equipment – High-end balls, shoes, bags, and accessories can run $10,000+ per year.
  • League and Tournament Fees – Hundreds or thousands per event in entry fees.
  • Coaching – Private coaching from experts can cost $150 per hour or more.

When you tally the costs, even six-figure tournament winnings get chipped away for most players.

Only the most consistent winners at the top of the bowling world earn truly lucrative incomes after expenses.

That said, the potential for high payouts and income remains attractive for aspiring pros willing to hone their skills tirelessly.

Pro Bowling Can Be a Lucrative Career With the Right Skills

For the rare bowlers who become champions, professional bowling can indeed be a high-paying career.

PBA tournaments dish out some impressive prizes, especially to those who master both the physical and mental side of the sport.

But earning a handsome living as a pro bowler requires immense dedication, repeat performance under pressure, and the willingness to travel and compete nonstop.

Only with the right combination of skill, consistency, and some luck can a bowler win enough tournaments to reach the highest levels of income.

For the top talents willing to put in the work, pro bowling offers financial rewards well above league play at the local alley.

With focus and perseverance, professional bowlers have opportunities to earn a great living doing what they love at the lanes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money can a bowler make?

The top PBA bowlers can make $100,000 to over $200,000 per year from tournament winnings alone. With endorsements and bonuses, earnings can reach $500,000 or more annually for the very best players. Most PBA members make $50,000 to $100,000.

What is the payout for the pro bowling tournament?

Payouts vary based on the tournament. Major PBA events pay out $30,000+ for first place. Regular PBA Tour stops award $20,000+ to the winner. Regional tournaments payout $5,000 to $7,500 for first place.

What are the PBA lifetime earnings?

The PBA’s all-time career earnings leader is Walter Ray Williams Jr. with total winnings of over $3.8 million over his decades-long career. Other top earners include Norm Duke ($1.8 million), Pete Weber ($1.7 million), and Parker Bohn III ($1.6 million).

How much money can you make from bowling tournaments?

For top professionals, annual earnings from tournaments and bonuses can reach well over $100,000. But for amateurs and lesser pros, bowling tournament winnings may only provide part-time supplemental income in the range of $10,000 to $30,000 per year.

Can you make a living off of bowling?

Yes, the very best PBA bowlers earn a full-time living from tournament winnings and sponsorships. But it requires immense skill and consistency to win events and earn life-changing money from bowling alone. Most supplement with other jobs.

Can anyone be a pro bowler?

To compete on the PBA Tour, you must be invited to bowl in events after succeeding at lower levels. Becoming a touring pro requires immense talent, dedication to perfecting techniques, and the financial means to support a bowling career. Only a select few can make it professionally.

What is the prize money for the PBA 2023?

Full details on the 2023 PBA prize funds are not yet available. But it’s expected to be around $6 million total paid out across hundreds of events both large and small. Top events will likely payout $30,000 to $60,000 for first place.

Do pro bowlers make a lot of money?

The very top PBA stars can make over $200,000 from winnings, and up to $500,000+ when including endorsements and bonuses. However, many pros make around $50,000 to $100,000 annually. The money is good but bowlers must perform consistently.

How do you become a professional bowler?

Turning pro requires lots of youth training to build techniques, success at the youth and collegiate levels, and then earning a spot in regional PBA events. Performing well regionally can lead to joining the PBA Tour. Only the top bowlers reach the televised finals and big prizes.