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The biggest prize money in Australian sports

Posted 11.02.2021
The biggest prize money in Australian sports

When it comes to prize money, Aussie sports offer some of the highest payouts in the world – whether it is horse racing at the Melbourne Cup, the Australian open (of golf or tennis) or even cycling and the Tour Down Under, Australia is host to some of the biggest sports with the highest prize offerings. 

Salaries and sponsorships aside, here are the Australian sporting events offering the biggest prize money. 

Golf’s Australian Open

Golf has a strong place in Australia – in particular, a golf tournament that has a long and prestigious history is the Australian Open. First played in 1904, not long after the creation of the Australian Golf Union in 1898, the tournament has been held in a number of locations throughout Australia. 

The Australian Open of golf is a sporting event that sees immense competition and attracts massive audiences – as a result, prize money within the sport is significant, and tournament winners receive a hefty sum. While in 1966 the first prize of the tournament was $1600 AUD (a lot , Australian Open prize money has grown to a considerable $225,000 AUD for first place. 

Greg Norman, bringing in the money at the Australian Open
Greg Norman, bringing in the money at the Australian Open

Tennis and the Australian Open 

The Australian Open is one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, and the first of four grand slam tournaments held each year. First held in 1905, it is hosted in Melbourne, where top tennis players will compete for the top spot. Every year, Australian Open previews and trends aim to predict who will come out on top, with previous champions including the likes of Roy Emerson, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. 

In addition to sponsorship money and other sources of income, Australian Open players make a significant amount in prize money – in 2021, the total prize purse is $80 million AUD, with first round qualifying prize money of $25,000 – not a bad amount just to qualify. When it comes to the winning prize, mens and womens singles winners will get just under $3 million AUD. 

How iconic are those blue arenas at the Australian Tennis Open?
How iconic are those blue arenas at the Australian Tennis Open?

Motor racing and the Australian Grand Prix

Next on the list is the Australian Grand Prix – held yearly in Australia, it is the second oldest racing competition in Australia that is still around, and was first run in 1928. As of 2020, it has been held across 23 locations. 

As a significant racing competition, it has attracted world class racers such as Michael Schumacher and Lex Davison, and estimated audience attendance even peaked at above 500,000 people in 1995. 

When it comes to prize money, teams are paid by the F1 (based on performance), and they then decide how much to pay their drivers (again based on how they perform) – for example, Lewis Hamilton earns an estimated salary of $30 million USD, in addition to win bonuses. 


Horse racing and the Melbourne Cup 

One of the biggest yearly sporting events in Australia is the Melbourne Cup – this is one of the most popular betting events in the country, where horse races are held throughout the day. 

Whether you look at prize money or betting wins, both horses and spectators have won millions. In 2020, prize money was $8 million (received by the first 12 past the post), in addition to a $500,000 AUD winning bonus – the winner of the 2020 Melbourne world cup received $4.4 million. This money is shared by the horse owner, trainer and jockey. 

When it comes to Melbourne Cup punters, 2020 saw a retired man win over $1 million AUD from a $28 dollar bet.

Gamble responsibly.
Gamble responsibly.

Cycling and the Tour Down Under

To wrap up this list, the Santos Tour Down Under is a cycling race located in Adelaide – established in 1999, it has already seen rapid growth and attracts top UCI teams locally and from across the world. 

Based on start list quality, the Tour Down Under is, within the southern hemisphere, the highest ranked professional road cycling race, and in 2020 was won by rider Richie Porte.

In terms of prize money, 2020’s competition saw riders receive over $6000 AUD for stage wins, and the winner left with somewhere around $30,000 AUD. When you include sponsor money and other earnings, the riders make a decent amount of money over the 11 day event.

Feel the burn in those legs!
Feel the burn in those legs!