On July 26, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf became the first Fortnite World Cup champion. The 16-year-old player from Pennsylvania raked in $3 million for his efforts and became an overnight celebrity as a result.
That eye-popping number saw Bugha rocket into the top 10 all-time esports earners, a fact that made many green with envy. But while he still banked a great deal of money at the event, he walked out of New York with much less than $300,000.
The Fortnite World Cup took place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York and featured over $30 million in prizes between the creative finals, the solo finals, and the duos finals.
The State of New York has an 8.82% tax on prize winnings. According to Rush B Media, that means that New York collected around $2.75 million in taxes. Bugha himself had to pay around $265,000 to New York just for winning a tournament in the state.
That’s a tough blow for Bugha, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the IRS has in store. Rush B added that Bugha will also be on the hook for over $1.2 million in taxes to the federal government. Other players that ranked inside the top 20 in the solo finals fell into similar tax brackets, which will likely lead to a comparable hit to the bottom line.
Half of Bugha’s winnings evaporated after those state and federal taxes, but the government wasn’t the only entity reaching into Bugha’s wallet. Sentinels, the North American organization that Bugha represented at the event, is also likely taking a cut. It’s unclear which percentage of his prize goes to the team.
Every player taking part in the event was guaranteed to take home at least $50,000. That means that each player will likely hand over at least $15,000 to the tax man.
With an overwhelming number of young players competing at the Fortnite World Cup, a lot of teenagers have received a harsh lesson in accounting.