How Much Money Do Professional Bowlers Earn? Things you don’t know

Bowlers with exceptional skills often ponder the experience of transitioning to a professional level and the financial prospects that come with it. They wonder about the earnings of professional bowlers and the world they inhabit.

Although there has been a decline in the popularity of bowling in recent decades, resulting in a decrease in professional earnings, top bowlers still manage to earn a respectable income.

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This article will delve into the world of professional bowling, exploring the impressive earnings potential of these skilled athletes.

What Is The Average Salary Of A Pro Bowler? 

The 1960s and 1970s were hailed as the ‘golden age’ of bowling, with professional bowlers earning twice as much as NFL players during that era.

Professional bowlers were earning substantial amounts of money at tournaments, securing lucrative sponsorship deals, and enjoying a lavish lifestyle.

The pinnacle of the sport saw the signing of million-dollar contracts and the rise of bowling celebrities, inspiring aspiring bowlers to follow in their footsteps. Legendary figures like Earl Anthony and Pete Weber dominated the scene during this era.

Sadly, the landscape has changed since then, and the annual earnings of professional bowlers have become more modest. Nowadays, professional bowlers typically earn around $45,000 to $50,000 per year, excluding sponsorships.

Nonetheless, the elite bowlers still have the potential to rake in substantial earnings. Renowned names like Walter Ray Williams Jr. average around $250,000 to $300,000 per year.

Although the glory days of bowling are behind us, skillful and knowledgeable professionals can still achieve significant financial success in the sport.

How Do Professional Bowlers Make Money? 

Professional bowlers make money in several ways, but the main and most significant source of income is through winning prize money in tournaments. These tournaments are highly competitive and attract top bowlers from around the world.

Bowlers showcase their skills and strategies, competing against each other in intense matches to secure a place in the prize-winning positions. The prize money not only rewards their exceptional bowling abilities but also provides a financial incentive for bowlers to continually improve and excel in their sport.

Additionally, professional bowlers may also earn income through sponsorships, endorsements, and participation in exhibition events, further contributing to their overall earnings.

The Professional Bowling Tour (PBA) is the premier bowling tour in the United States, coveted by bowlers worldwide. Although bowling tournaments are held in various countries, the PBA is the ultimate aspiration for competitors.

Tours cater to various groups, including juniors and seniors, each tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

How Much Do Bowlers Make On Tour And For Winning A Tournament? 

The earnings of a bowler participating in tournaments are contingent upon both the specific tournament and their level of experience.

In certain PBA tournaments, numerous participants end up leaving empty-handed, as the prize money is primarily focused on the top winners.

However, unlike some tournaments where bowlers are left empty-handed upon early elimination, other tournaments are more generous. They go the extra mile by rewarding bowlers even if they are eliminated early on. In such cases, bowlers can often receive a substantial payout ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, adding an extra layer of motivation and financial support to their participation.

As previously mentioned, the outcome mentioned above will vary depending on the tournament. A prestigious event in New York, backed by numerous sponsorships and attended by high-profile individuals, may have the financial capacity to offer more substantial rewards to all participants. However, a lesser-known event may not possess the necessary financial resources to provide such incentives.

When it comes to major tournaments, the prize money available is significantly higher. As an example, in 2021, the PBA Players’ Championship offered a staggering $1 million prize, marking it as the highest-known prize in recent years.

In most top tournaments, the prize money for the winners typically ranges from $50,000 to $100,000. Additionally, the runner-up participants usually receive half of that amount as their reward. These generous payouts not only recognize the skill and talent of the winners but also provide a well-deserved acknowledgment to the participants who come close to securing the top spot.

How Much Do Bowlers Make From Sponsorships

As previously mentioned, professional bowlers used to receive numerous lucrative sponsorship deals during the ‘golden age’. However, in recent times, such opportunities have become increasingly scarce.

As bowling no longer attracts the same television ratings as it once did, major sponsorship deals are now reserved for the prominent names and legends in the sport, such as the renowned Norm Duke.

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However, other professional bowlers have the opportunity to secure sponsorship deals ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. These agreements often involve donning branded t-shirts or using specific bowling equipment to increase brand visibility.

Sometimes, professional bowlers are fortunate to have a backer who supports them by covering living expenses and entry fees during PBA tours. However, this arrangement often entails sharing earnings from tournament victories.

Do Professional Women Bowlers Earn Less Than Men?

Professional women bowlers earn an average salary ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Those who excel in the sport can earn even higher, with incomes ranging from approximately $75,000 to six figures annually.

Currently, professional bowlers, both men and women, face the challenge of modest earnings. However, there exists a disparity in television ratings between men’s and women’s bowling, exacerbating the difficulty for women to sustain a livelihood as professional bowlers.

However, this doesn’t imply that there is no potential in this regard. There are still a handful of prominent individuals who have achieved substantial earnings in the field of bowling. This suggests that if a woman possesses the necessary skills and talent, she too has the opportunity to reach those heights.

Why Do Bowlers Make Less Money Today?

As previously stated, the 1960s and 1970s were hailed as the pinnacle of bowling, often referred to as the ‘golden age’. During this time, the elite bowlers possessed the remarkable ability to earn millions of dollars annually.

These esteemed athletes were regarded as international icons, with Don Carter, a prominent professional bowler, making history as the first sportsman to secure a million-dollar sponsorship deal.

In the highly competitive world of sports, the top players earn an impressive average of $446,710 each year, which is significantly higher than the current earnings witnessed in the sport.

This notable difference in earnings highlights the exceptional talent and market value that these top players bring to the table, making them true game-changers in their respective fields.

The primary factor contributing to the decrease in salaries is the waning interest in the sport. Bowling, once a popular pastime, now pales in comparison to more mainstream sports like basketball and baseball.

Television coverage of the sport has significantly decreased, and the days of bowling tournaments being televised on networks like ABC are long gone.

The Future Of Bowling Salaries

For professional bowling salaries to regain their former glory, several key factors must align.

The PBA must focus on enhancing its popularity, particularly among younger generations. This strategic approach would not only attract more sponsorship deals but also pave the way for a resurgence in television exposure. By prioritizing these aspects, the PBA can position itself for sustained growth and success.

The emergence of social media has the potential to significantly amplify the visibility of professional bowling. Influential personalities in the bowling community, with a substantial following on social media platforms, can play a pivotal role in promoting the sport. By acting as social media influencers, they have the power to expose a wider audience to the world of bowling. This presents a unique opportunity in the modern era, where numerous influencers are readily available to contribute to the growth and popularity of the sport.

These influential figures have the power to sway their extensive fan base towards endorsing and embracing professional bowling.

Recreational interest in the sport remains strong, with surveys indicating that a significant portion of Americans make at least one annual visit to bowling alleys.

Encouraging support from younger generations, as it is a highly popular activity among children, can greatly benefit the sport. It could even contribute to the restoration of higher salaries for professional players.

Although it is improbable that we will witness a resurgence of the ‘golden age’, there is still ample opportunity and time for the professional bowling community to expand its support. This, in turn, could pave the way for increased remuneration for those engaged in the sport at a professional level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who holds the title of the highest-paid bowler?

Walter Ray Williams Jr., an American professional bowler, currently holds the title of the highest-paid bowler. With an impressive record of 7 PBA Player of the Year awards and numerous other accolades, he has established himself as a dominant force in the world of professional bowling.

His total PBA earnings in 2022 over $5 million 

Is It Challenging to Become A Pro Bowler? 

Becoming a professional bowler is far more challenging than most people realize. To reach the professional level, one must excel at an exceptionally high standard. However, maintaining the status of a professional bowler is equally demanding.

Nevertheless, with the right blend of skill, motivation, and unwavering determination, attaining a professional level and sustaining it indefinitely becomes an achievable feat.


To conclude, although professional bowling reached its peak in the 60s and 70s, it has experienced a decline in recent years. While top bowlers can still earn substantial amounts of money, it has become less common due to factors such as declining TV ratings and a decrease in overall interest.

The sport, once a popular spectacle, now faces challenges in attracting new viewers and maintaining its past glory. Despite this, dedicated enthusiasts and skilled professionals continue to showcase their talent and passion for the game, keeping the spirit of bowling alive in the face of changing times.

Bowling, a recreational sport, is cherished across the United States and around the globe. With its widespread popularity, there is immense potential for it to gain traction as a professional sport.

As a result, this will lead to an upward trend in the salaries of individuals who actively engage in this particular field professionally.

With the increasing demand and recognition for their expertise, these professionals will experience a surge in their income, allowing them to enjoy greater financial rewards and stability in their careers.

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