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How Much Do Professional Bowlers Make a Year with Sponsors

A professional (pba) bowler at birmingham's local bowling center playing in a weekly bowling exhibitions tournament.

Professional athletes are among some of the highest-paid public figures around.

While we all know that professional football, basketball, and soccer players regularly earn in the millions, what about other sports? Specifically, what about PBA bowlers? How much do professional bowlers make a year with sponsors and endorsements?

If you’ve ever wondered how much a professional bowler makes and if sponsors make a difference, this article is for you!

We are going to break down how much professional bowlers earn and dive into everything else you could need to know about the subject.

How Much Do Professional Bowlers Make?

With sponsorships and endorsements, professional bowlers’ earning potential can range from $100,000 to anywhere upwards of $400,000 per year. 

How Much $$$ Pro Bowlers Win/Lose

Professional bowlers can earn anywhere from $16,000 to $100,000 per year without sponsorships and endorsements. The annual earnings of professional bowlers vary wildly according to their tournament participation, location of tournaments (different winnings for different locations), the bowler’s ability, bowler endorsements, and event sponsorships.

Most professional bowlers who are “staffed” can have an average base salary range of $40,000 to $50,000 before you take their sponsorships and expenses into consideration. 

With endorsements and sponsorships, a few of the top-percented professional bowlers earn significantly more. Top-percented professional bowlers can earn over $200,000 -$400,000 per year. The earnings do not take into consideration associated bowling expenses. 

Key Takeaways

  • Professional bowlers’ annual income ranges from $16,000 to over $400,000, depending on tournament participation, location, skill level, endorsements, and sponsorships.
  • Top professional bowlers, like Walter Ray Williams Jr., have earned millions ($5 million before retiring in 2019) through tournament winnings, endorsements, and appearance fees.
  • Key income sources for pro bowlers include tournament prizes, endorsements (brand promotion), sponsorships (equipment and attire support), personal appearances, and social media.
  • The gender pay gap in professional bowling mirrors broader trends, with top female bowlers earning significantly less than their male counterparts, typically between $50,000 to $100,000 annually.
  • To become a professional bowler, one should practice regularly to achieve high scores, invest in quality bowling equipment, participate in local and regional tournaments, and seek sponsorships and endorsements.

How Much Does the Highest-Paid Bowler Make?

A professional bowler salary is based on things like tournaments, appearances, and endorsements. As professional bowling's decline, bowlers can still make a decent living from the pba tour, tournaments and appearenence fees.
Air Force Bowling, part of the U.S. Federal Government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Who is the highest-paid bowler, and how much do they make? The highest-paid bowler in the world is PBA bowler Walter Ray Williams Jr. His lifetime earnings were nearly $5 million before retiring from PBA bowling in 2019. 

On average, Walter Ray Williams Jr. brought in around $150,000 from bowling tournaments yearly. He also made money by selling merchandise through endorsements and charging appearance fees. 

But who are the other top earners in the PBA, and what are their lifetime earnings? 

Active PBA YearsPBA Bowler’s NameActive Years Earnings
1980-2010 Walter Ray Williams Jr $4,787,224
1979-2020Pete Weber$4,050,032
1982-2020Norm Duke$3,690,741
1989-2020Parker Bohn III$3,286,385
1982-2019Brian Voss$2,572,738
1982-2020Amleto Monacelli$2,677,723
1998-2020Chris Barnes$2,448,668
1976-2020Tom Baker$2,054,444  
1979-2008Mike Aulby$2,045,083
1999-2019Mika Koivuniemi$1,939,769
2008-2020Jason Belmonte$1,815,927
1970-2008Mark Roth$1,519,451
1969-1997Earl Anthony$1,361,881
2005-2020Bill O’Neill$1,323,266
2012-2020*EJ Tackett$981,564
2013-2020*Anthony Simonsen$679,987
2008-2020*Kyle Troup$381,573
Chart listing of 17 highest earning through their listed active year bowling.

How Do Pro Bowlers Make a Living?

The professional sport of bowling allow top bowlers to make a bowling salaries through winning tournaments.

Professional bowlers have a few different major sources of income. One of the main income streams is tournament wins.

Potential Earning SourcesPossible Associated Expenses
TournamentsEntry fees
Endorsements/Advertising (face of brand)Hotel
Sponsorships (branded shirts, etc)Gas/Air travel
Personal AppearancesFood
MerchandiseDrilling fees
Base (incentive package)Calcutta
Social Media (Youtube)Entertainment
chart of income sources and expenses associated with professional bowling


During a tournament, dozens of professional bowlers compete for a grand prize that can total anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000. In addition to the overall winner, second and third-place competitors often walk away with a cash prize of $20,000 to $50,000. So, placing in tournaments is important and affects professional bowlers’ income.

One example of a major tournament with a cash prize is the 2021 PBA Player’s Championship. It featured one of the most significant prizes in bowling history. There was a record-breaking $1 million prize fund, with $250,000 awarded to the winner, Kyle Troup, and $130,000 to the second-place winner, Dick Allen. Even the 5th place winner, Anthony Simenson, walked away with $50,000.

However, tournaments aren’t the most reliable source of income because you’ll need to place well to walk away with a prize. Additionally, living out on the road and traveling to different tournaments is costly (see income and expense chart above).

On average, a professional bowler (i.e., a PBA bowler) can spend between $600 to $1000 each week when they’re out on the road. As a result, it is not uncommon for most professional bowlers to turn to other, more consistent streams of income, as shared by PBA bowler Anthony Simonsen.


In addition to tournament wins, many professional bowlers can secure lucrative endorsement deals. Endorsements are basically a bowler’s public approval (personal promotion) of a particular brand or equipment. Individuals and bowling companies will pay professional bowlers to advertise their services, just the same as they do in other sports.

The promotion can be in the form of commercials, social media posts, and YouTube videos where the bowler may make an appearance representing the company’s brand.


Professional bowlers also turn to sponsorships to help fund their living expenses while on tour – another common strategy for sports professionals. Sponsorships can be event-specific and are transactional agreements. As in other sports, sponsorship is a two-way agreement between the professional bowler and a sponsor, and there are several different types of arrangements for bowling sponsors.

Some sponsors provide monetary stipends, while others simply pay for the athlete’s bowling equipment and attire. In return, the professional bowler promotes the sponsor and may represent them at events.

Some examples of companies that sponsor professional bowlers include: 

  • Bowling ball manufacturers
  • Bowling coaches
  • Bowling accessories retailers
  • Bowling alleys

Personal Appearances

The last significant way professional bowlers make money is through personal appearance fees. Like other public figures, they are paid to show up and interact with fans, typically by event planners or venues. They may bowl a few frames or just spend time taking pictures and interacting with the crowd. 

Event Management

If you’re familiar with event hosting, you may also handle hosting bowling activities and tournaments more easily. As it requires you to contact, find influencers, create themes and find funding. Good event management can help you make a lot of money if you’re supplementing your income as a pro bowler.

How Much Do Female Bowlers Make Compared To Male Counterparts?

According to career experts, the gender pay gap is women earn $.96 for every dollar their male counterparts earn. To date, this makes women’s average salary around $46,000 per year. In bowling, with different streams of income, women bowlers can earn anywhere between $50,000 to upwards $100,000.

Without endorsements or exorbitant sponsorship, the highest-paid female bowlers earn roughly $60,000 per year. This is low in comparison to male bowlers’ greatest annual pay, but it is owing to lower viewership for the sport.

How Much Money Professional Bowlers Really Make…

How to Become a Professional Bowler

Top athletes are paid twice as much money in bowling leagues and as pba bowlers.
Vinod Divakaran, photographer. Possibly associated with Doha Stadium Plus Qatar (their account on Flickr)., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now that you know how much professional bowlers earn, you might consider whether you have what it takes to join their ranks. Here are the steps it takes to become a professional bowler. While following these tips won’t guarantee you’ll find professional bowling success, they are a massive step in the right direction. 

Get Good at Bowling

Blue bowling ball hitting motion blurred pins at a pro tournament.

The first step in becoming a professional bowler is to be a good bowler! You’ll have to regularly score upwards of 200 and be able to make a lot of strikes and spares. You’ll also have to work on your form and rolling technique to ensure you can keep up with the other bowlers. The best way to get good at bowling is to spend plenty of time practicing.

Learn the ins and outs of the game and try to understand the science behind it. You should study other professional bowlers, take notes on how they play the game, and read a few bowling suggested bowling books. Here’s a list of our reading material.

Invest in Quality Equipment

Three different bowling balls, green, blue, and yellow, and three pairs of tri-colored bowling shoes, red, white, and blue, are top performers equipment.

To become a professional bowler, you’ll have to look the part, of course! Virtually all professional bowlers own their bowling balls, bowling shoes, bags, and accessories. Getting equipment specifically tailored to your body will not only make you look like a professional, but it will also improve your game!

For example, drilling your bowling ball holes to fit your fingers will help you roll better and make playing more comfortable. You’ll have more control over the ball, which means higher, more consistent scores. 

Start Participating in Local Tournaments

Once you have practiced and are confident in your bowling ability, your next step should be finding tournaments to join. In addition to the prize money, you’ll have a chance to get your name out there. You can observe other professional bowlers and might even pick up tips on how to play or network better. 

Enter a Regional Tournament for the PBA

PBA stands for the Professional Bowlers Association, and it’s the largest bowling organization in America. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your local bowling tournaments, it’s time to set your sights higher. Competing and placing in a PBA tournament is the best way to garner attention and launch your professional bowling career.

PBA tournaments also have some of the most significant cash prizes available, so winning will give you plenty of money to reinvest into your career. 

Find Sponsors or Endorsements

Sponsorships and endorsement deals make up a large portion of any professional bowler’s income. They provide consistent income and can help you afford your traveling expenses.

That opens the door to tournaments that are held much farther away.

You’ll likely have to reach out to businesses and individuals yourself but don’t get discouraged if it seems impossible at first. Remember, you’re only one phone call or email away from getting the deal of a lifetime. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Professional Bowlers Make a Living?

Professional bowlers make a living by winning tournaments, securing endorsement deals, and obtaining sponsorships. Tournaments offer cash prizes for top performers, while endorsements involve promoting products or brands in exchange for money.

Sponsorships help cover living and travel expenses during tours, with companies supporting bowlers in return for publicity and representation. Bowlers also earn money from personal appearance fees when interacting with fans at events.

Can You Make Money Bowling?

Yes, you can make money bowling, particularly at the professional level. Professional bowlers earn income from various sources, including tournament winnings, endorsements, and sponsorships. Winning or placing in tournaments can yield significant cash prizes.

Company endorsements pay bowlers to promote their products, and sponsorships offer financial support or cover equipment costs. There are also opportunities to earn money through personal appearances at events.

What Is the Prize Money for PBA Bowling?

The prize money for PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) bowling tournaments varies. Cash prizes can range from $50,000 to $150,000 for the winners, with additional payouts for second and third-place finishers.

One notable event, the 2021 PBA Player’s Championship, had a record-breaking $1 million prize fund, with the winner receiving $250,000 and the runner-up getting $130,000. However, prize amounts can differ significantly between various tournaments and events.

Is It Hard to Become a Pro Bowler?

For some, it may be hard. On the other hand, for the bowlers who decide to be dedicated to the sport, it may be easier.

As with any sport, becoming a professional bowler requires skill and, some believe, a bit of luck. You’ll have to excel at the game, carry yourself professionally, and contact the right people.
It’s a highly competitive game, so you’ll have to keep your skills sharp to compete.

You’ll also have to get tournament wins regularly and work hard to make the right professional connections. Becoming a professional bowler is possible, but it will take a lot of hard work and dedication. 

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My Final Words

The financial landscape for professional bowlers showcases a wide earnings spectrum, ranging from modest incomes to substantial earnings exceeding $400,000 annually, underscored by factors such as tournament performance, sponsorship deals, and endorsements. The path to becoming a professional bowler demands a blend of relentless practice, strategic participation in tournaments, and the cultivation of brand relationships for sponsorships and endorsements.

Meanwhile, the gender pay gap presents an additional challenge, with top female bowlers often earning significantly less than their male counterparts. Ultimately, success in professional bowling hinges on a combination of skill, strategic income stream diversification, and personal brand development, underscoring the sport’s potential as a lucrative career for dedicated athletes.