How do top esports stars’ earnings compare to the top stars in other sports?

By Jared Wynne


Jun 25, 2020

Reading time: 3 min

Esports is growing in popularity every week. Stars of the most popular games are beginning to earn incredible sums of money thanks to increasing sponsorships and tournament prize pools.

A look around some of the figures shows that pro player Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has amassed career winnings of nearly $7 million from playing Dota 2. He has played in four iterations of The International, winning in both 2018 and 2019, and has bagged no fewer than four Major championships.

Just a small way behind is Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka from Finland, with nearly $6.5 million in Dota 2 winnings.

While N0tail and JerAx’s winnings look impressive, how do they compare against other games and sporting disciplines? Rather poorly is the unfortunate answer, as is outlined below. But who can predict just how popular esports will become, and how much stars of the future can earn?

Bryn Kenney, Poker, $56 million

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We’ve seen something of a crossover between esports and poker. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Griffin “shaGuar” Benger are two examples of esports players turned poker pros.

The world’s best poker players eclipse the earnings of esport’s brightest talents. Right now, the man with the highest poker tournament winnings in the world is US player Bryn Kenney, who has career earnings of $56 million. Not bad for a game of cards! As in esports, you don’t have to be a supreme athlete to play, and you can play poker without spending a cent.

Tiger Woods, Golf, $1.5 billion

Tiger Woods is the most successful golf player in the world. He has won an incredible 82 PGA Tour events and 41 on the European Tour. It’s not entirely clear how much of Tiger’s fortune came from prize money alone. He has made a tidy sum in endorsement deals from the likes of Nike.

At 44 years old, he is still going strong and capped a brilliant comeback from injury by winning the coveted Masters event in 2019.

Roger Federer, Tennis, $130 million

Thanks to the record books, we do know that Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has won $130 million just from smacking a ball over the net. His net worth is reckoned to be around $450 million.

He is a model of consistency, having won no less than 20 Grand Slam singles events. At 38 years old, he is still near the top of his game, ranked fourth in the world.

Michael Jordan, Basketball, $93.2 million

Although nobody would turn their noses up at this sort of money, Jordan’s business interests have rocketed him to superstar money status since his retirement. According to Forbes, he has a net worth now of a cool $2.1 billion thanks to those interests.

But during his career with the Chicago Bulls, it’s stated he earned just over $93 million. Not bad for playing the game you love.

Lewis Hamilton, Formula One, $500 million

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For most people looking to make some money from driving, they’d probably end up running a cab. But for superstars like six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, racing F1 cars is what it’s all about.

The Englishman is so good at it that he’s F1s highest-paid driver, having amassed career earnings of nearly $500 million. That’s life in the fast lane.

Eli Manning, NFL, $252 million

The Giants quarterback announced his retirement earlier this year. During an illustrious career, which included two Super Bowl titles, he made $252 million in contract money.

His earnings have officially made him the highest-earning NFL star in the history of the game, at around $4 million more than Peyton Manning.

From this quick tour of how much the top-earning stars of other forms of sport are earning, we can see the top performers in esports still have some way to go.

However, everyone agrees that esports is still in the nursery stage. In 10 or 20 years, who knows how big it will become and how much money the top earners like N0tail will be making.


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