When it comes to professional sports, bowling may not be the first to come to mind.
However, this sport has been around for centuries and has evolved into a lucrative career for skilled bowlers.
Many people may wonder how much professional bowlers make, and the answer may surprise them.
While not as high as top earners in other sports, professional bowlers can still make a decent living through various income streams such as prize money and sponsorships.
The golden age of bowling may have been in the 1960s and 1970s, but professional bowling still offers a means of income for those who are skilled enough. The best bowlers can earn upwards of $250,000 to $300,000 a year, with some even investing in bowling centers for added income.
However, the amount of money professional bowlers make is influenced by various factors such as their skill level and the number of tournaments they participate in.
This article will delve deeper into the history and evolution of professional bowling and explore the average yearly salary of pro bowlers, along with the top earners and the additional sources of income they rely on.
Professional Bowler Salary Overview
In terms of salary, professional bowlers are independent contractors who primarily cover their own expenses, but can still earn a decent living through various revenue streams facilitated by the PBA Tour.
The average yearly salary for a PBA member is around $45,000 to $50,000, while top bowlers can make around $250,000 to $300,000 a year on average.
These top earners often have professional bowler endorsements and other sponsorships that provide added cash or free bowling accessories for practice and PBA Tour play.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on professional bowling earnings.
With tournaments being canceled or postponed, many bowlers have missed out on potential prize money and sponsorships.
Despite this, some top bowlers like Kyle Troup have still managed to set PBA earning records, with Troup earning $496,900 prior to the first of September in 2020.
Overall, professional bowlers can still make a decent living, but their earnings depend on their success in tournaments, sponsorships, and other revenue streams.
History and Evolution
The historical background and transformation of the professional bowling industry have had a significant impact on the earning potential of top-level bowlers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, professional bowling reached its peak, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch the sport on television.
Notable figures like Earl Anthony and Don Carter became international celebrities, signing million-dollar contracts and endorsing various products.
This era saw the average professional bowler make twice as much money as NFL stars of the time.
However, the popularity of professional bowling began to decline in the 1980s, with fewer people watching the sport and fewer sponsors investing in it.
As a result, professional bowlers’ earning potential decreased significantly.
Although the best bowlers like Walter Ray Williams Jr.
can still make a decent living, the average yearly salary for a pro bowler is much more modest.
Despite this decline, professional bowling still has a significant influence on pop culture, with movies like Kingpin and The Big Lebowski featuring bowling as a central theme.
Average Yearly Salary
The average yearly salary of a professional bowler is determined by a variety of factors, including tournament payouts, sponsorships, and other revenue streams, but can top out at around $300,000.
While some professional bowlers can make a decent living off of the multiple revenue streams the PBA Tour (and other tours) facilitate, others may struggle to cover their living expenses and travel costs.
Independent contractors, and professional bowlers mostly cover their own expenses unless they have a sponsorship deal that stipulates otherwise.
The payouts for professional bowling tournaments also vary greatly, depending on the type of tournament, the amount of prize money available, and the order of finish.
In some PBA tournaments and semi-pro events, the vast majority of bowlers go away empty-handed, while other events can be much more generous, paying $5,000 to $10,000 to bowlers eliminated in the opening rounds.
The best professional bowlers like Walter Ray Williams Jr.
can make much more than the average yearly salary, with top earners approaching the high six figures to low seven figures in overall yearly income with sponsorships and other earnings factored in.
Among professional bowlers, the top earners, including Jason Belmonte, Bill O’Neill, and Anthony Simonsen, approach the high six figures to low seven figures in overall yearly income with sponsorships and other earnings factored in, cementing their status as some of the most successful athletes in the sport.
These top earners have a celebrity status in the world of professional bowling, drawing in fans and increasing the sport’s popularity.
Their impressive earnings not only reflect their skill and dedication to the sport but also their ability to secure sponsorships and other deals that provide added cash and benefits.
The top earners in professional bowling have had a significant impact on the sport’s popularity over the years.
With their impressive earnings and international celebrity status, they have helped to bring attention to the sport and inspired young people to pursue a career in professional bowling.
These top earners have also helped to secure sponsorships and other deals for the sport, providing financial support that enables the PBA Tour and other tours to facilitate multiple revenue streams for professional bowlers.
As such, the top earners in professional bowling play a crucial role in the sport’s continued success and growth.
Additional Sources of Income
Professional bowlers have various options for generating additional income, apart from their regular winnings and sponsorships.
One of the most common ways is investing in a bowling center or buying it outright, which can provide a stable source of income.
Bowlers can coordinate various events such as cosmic bowling or league nights to attract customers and generate revenue.
In addition, some bowlers use their centers to provide coaching or training sessions, which can attract aspiring bowlers and generate additional income.
Owning a bowling center also allows bowlers to practice whenever they want, without having to pay for lane rentals.
Another way for professional bowlers to increase their income is by employing various prize money distribution strategies.
In some tournaments, the vast majority of bowlers go away empty-handed, while others pay $5,000 to $10,000 to bowlers eliminated in the opening rounds.
The payouts for professional bowling tournaments depend on the type of tournament, the amount of prize money available, and the order of finish.
Some top-tier bowling showcases might have more money to hand out based on sponsorships and attendance, while low-profile events may have to be much more creative with their payout structures.
Therefore, bowlers need to be strategic in choosing which tournaments to participate in to maximize their earning potential.
In contemporary times, sponsorship deals have become a crucial factor in the earning potential of competitive bowlers.
Professional bowlers, especially those with a PBA membership, usually have some sort of sponsorship deal on the books that provides added cash or free bowling accessories for practice and PBA Tour play.
These deals allow bowlers to supplement their income and make their careers more financially viable.
The role of social media in securing sponsorship deals has also become increasingly important.
Professional bowlers who can amass a large following on social media and demonstrate an engaged fan base are more likely to attract sponsors.
Companies are eager to work with bowlers who can help promote their brands and products to a wider audience.
As such, sponsorship deals have become an integral component of the income stream for professional bowlers, allowing them to earn more money and build their personal brand.
Moving on from sponsorship deals, let us now delve into the topic of tournament payouts in professional bowling.
The payouts for professional bowling tournaments vary depending on the type of tournament, the amount of prize money available, and the order of finish.
In some PBA tournaments and semi-pro events, the majority of bowlers go home empty-handed, while other events are much more generous, paying $5,000 to $10,000 to bowlers eliminated in the opening rounds.
The winners of major tournaments such as the PBA Championship can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, with the runner-up receiving about half of that amount.
The impact of Covid-19 on tournament payouts has been significant, with some tournaments being canceled or postponed due to safety concerns and financial constraints.
However, some organizations have implemented strategies to increase tournament prize money and attract more participants.
For instance, the PBA has introduced new events such as the PBA Summer Clash and the PBA League All-Star Clash, which offer larger prize pools and unique formats to entice both fans and players.
Additionally, some tournaments have adopted a tiered payout structure, where more bowlers receive cash prizes, albeit smaller amounts, to increase the overall prize money distributed.
These efforts have shown promising results, with top earners from the Covid-interrupted 2020 PBA Tour season approaching the high six figures to low seven figures in overall yearly income with sponsorships and other earnings factored in.
Women’s Professional Bowling Earnings
Regarding earnings in women’s professional bowling, there is a noticeable disparity between the top earners who make low six figures and the average yearly salary of $30,000 to $50,000.
While the most successful women bowlers like Kelly Kulick and Liz Johnson can make a comfortable living off of their earnings and sponsorships, there is still a significant gender disparity when it comes to paying in the sport.
This is particularly notable in light of the industry’s recent growth, with more and more women getting into the sport and participating in professional tournaments.
To give a better sense of the earnings for women’s professional bowlers, the table below highlights the top 5 earners on the PWBA Tour in 2021, as well as their earnings and the number of tournaments they have participated in.
As the table shows, there is a wide range of earnings among the top bowlers, with Danielle McEwan leading the pack with over $100,000 in earnings.
However, even among the top 5 earners, there is a significant drop-off once you get past the top 2, with the 3rd-5th highest earners all making less than $60,000.
This highlights the challenges that women face when it comes to earning a living as professional bowlers, even at the highest levels of the sport.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do pro bowlers train and improve their skills?
Pro bowlers train and improve their skills through mental preparation and tournament strategies.
They focus on developing a consistent approach, mastering different lane conditions, and analyzing their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
What is the process for becoming a professional bowler?
Becoming a professional bowler involves honing skills through practice and competing in amateur tournaments.
Once a bowler has achieved a high level of proficiency, they can seek out professional contracts and compete in bowling tournaments to earn a living.
How does a bowler’s physical health and fitness impact their performance?
Preventive measures and nutrition management are crucial for a bowler’s physical health and can impact their performance.
Proper stretching, strength training, and hydration can decrease the risk of injury and improve endurance on the lanes.
Are there any notable controversies or scandals in professional bowling history?
Cheating allegations and drug use have plagued professional bowling, with notable cases including Mark Roth’s disqualification for using an illegal substance in the 1970s and Bob Learn Jr.’s suspension for cocaine use in the 1990s.
How have technology and equipment advancements affected the sport of bowling?
Technology has revolutionized the sport of bowling with advancements such as smart bowling balls and lane oil patterns, impacting gameplay.
These industry trends have also influenced bowling equipment sales, with bowlers seeking the latest technology for an edge in competition.