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February 10, 2021 4 min read

Let’s be honest. We all know how rich some sports are. I mean, when you think about the NBA or even cricket, you immediately know that these sports have loads of money in them.

A person Anthony Ginting hitting a shuttle with a badminton racket on a court

However, have you ever thought about badminton and how much money does a badminton player make? So, how rich are badminton players, really? We’re answering all those questions today, through this post!

Who Are the Top Earning Players in The World?

The top-earning players in the world each have an impressive net worth, that comes from a variety of sources. We’ll get into the sources in the next section, but for now, let’s talk about the moneyyyy!!

via GIPHY 

According to the latest stats on the BWF website, World number 5 in the men’s singles category, China’s Chen Long has a total estimate of 1,350,557.50 USD in prize money. However, he is closely followed by Japan’s Kento Momota (World number 1 in the same category), who has managed 1,250,339 USD in winnings.

Both men have been left in the dust by the current Woman’s Singles World number 1, Tai Tzu Ying, who has an impressive 1,442,655 USD as her prize money total.  

However, it is important to note that a player’s earnings can be very different from a player’s net worth.

For example, Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen may have retired with a prize money earnings of only 522,384.50 USD. However, his estimated net worth is said to be around 49 million USD. Similarly, retired player, Lin Dan is estimated to be worth around 41 million USD.

Jan O Jorgensen and Lee Chong Wei on Podium

When it comes to the top female badminton players, Forbes has P.V. Sindhu, one of India’s top players, at number 13 on the list of the Highest-Paid Female Athletes of 2019, with 5.5 million USD in earnings.

Sources of Income

Badminton players, especially top-rated players often earn from multiple sources. These can be broken down into the following categories.

Prize Money

A top-rated international badminton player does not only earn money from tournaments. They do however form a sizeable chunk of a player’s annual income. 

While International tournaments such as the World Tours pay about 150,000 USD to the winner (Source), smaller tournaments such as Malaysia’s Purple League and India’s Premier Badminton League follow a more pay-per-match format. A player could end up getting between 2000-2500 USD per match in the Purple League, according to Indian badminton player Sumeeth Reddy (Source).

Government Funding

Of course, government funding is another huge source of income for top-rated players. In countries like China, sports are often seen as a way out of poverty. The government sets up special boarding schools where children are trained to become international sportspeople.

There was an interesting article that I read a few years ago that talked about the Chinese government’s regimen to ensure generation after generation of successful sportspeople. Of course, the Chinese government also pays for the living expenses of their National Team of top players so that these sportspeople can focus on the sport and bring honour to the country.

However, not all countries are zealous in their sports-related aspirations. Last year, the United Kingdom Sports cut all funding for Badminton England after the Rio Olympics.

Volant Rogue S1 Badminton Racket

Sponsorships

When it comes to the highest-rated players, equipment companies like Yonex, Li Ning and Victor will offer free equipment sets and clothing to them, in a bid to increase global exposure for the brand. In the video below, you can clearly see the Yonex logo on Saina Nehwal’s clothes.

Of course, because there is no such thing as a free lunch, players often have to sign contracts barring them from using other brands. Some contracts even have a clause that makes it mandatory for a player to participate in a minimum number of tournaments annually.

Usually, only the top players in the world, such as the now-retired Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, get direct financial payments. The rest have to contend with equipment, clothing and accessories.

Endorsements

If a badminton player has enough clout or star power in their home country, they are usually signed up as brand ambassadors and are paid huge amounts of money to feature in advertisements for the brand.

A good example of this is Saina Nehwal, the former World number 1, from India, who endorses as many as 15 brands, that range from breakfast cereal (Kellogg’s Cornflakes) to phones (Honor Smartphones) to Pain relief Ointments (Iodex). Her average annual income is estimated to be around 300,000 USD

It is possibly these brand endorsements that make Saina Nehwal one of the richest badminton players in the world. 

Some players also go onto create their own brand of merchandise, such as Lin Dan’s famous underwear brand “Intimate by LIN DAN”, that he launched in 2015.

Lin Dan Shaving in underwear

Coaching

It is wise to remember that not all players end up becoming prominent international individuals, winning loads of prize money. Only the top international players make enough money through tournaments.

While many don’t end up on the international stage, they are still good enough to open coaching institutes of their own. These centres also go a long way in training future, aspirational badminton players.

Of course, the money players earn from coaching others varies substantially according to their location.

Being a badminton player isn’t the most lucrative of career options, especially if one isn’t in the upper half of the top international rankings. However, so many of us play because of the sport and not for the money. If you’re keen to become a top-ranked badminton player, my advice would be to start young and train under a really good coach, so that you can get a solid foundation.

Till next time, stay safe and take care!


Main image: Badzine
Body image 1: Wikimedia Commons
Body image 2: Badminton Planet
Body image 3: Wikimedia Commons
 

Jeffrey Tho
Jeffrey Tho

Jeff is an ex-national badminton player who represented Australia twice at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, All England Championships and multiple Thomas and Sudirman Cups. He is the Australian National Senior Coach, Senior State Head Coach and the co-founder of Volant Wear. Jeff loves badminton and is extremely passionate about helping the world realise and understand how incredible our sport really is.


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