With the hiatus between WTS London and Hamburg upon us, I thought this would be a great opportunity to track where the prize money has been allocated this year-to-date.  Being knee-deep in the Olympic qualification period for the 2016 Rio Games, athletes must carefully choose which races in which to toe the line, in order to maximize their their potential for prize money, meeting Olympic qualification standards, and fend off injury.  To those of us on the sidelines, this period of racing can be as confusing as it is entertaining.  I plan to keep track of prize money allocations and Olympic Quota Slot allocations, and hopefully post updates as the qualification period unfolds.

Prize Money Primer

The ITU has guidelines for how prize money is to be allocated for each tier of racing and can be found here.  But in short, the purse is equal for Men and Women, and pays 20 deep for a standard WTS event and 25 deep for the Grand Final, the winners earning $18,000 and $30,000 respectively. To provide some perspective for the breakdowns provided below, the WTS has allocated $900,000 in total prize money so far this season across men and women.

YTD Winnings by Gender (Would you mind holding my purse?)

Without further ado, allow me to direct your attention to the below chart, specifically the comparison between men and women.  Although the men and women don’t compete directly in competition, they compete indirectly in terms of media expose and support from respective national federations.  Upon first glance at the chart below, one thing is glowingly the obvious; the Women of the USA (F-USA) appear to be the most dominant by a long shot across both genders.  To add some perspective, F-USA ($202,100) has claimed 45% of the YTD female prize pool and has 5.8 times the amount earned by the second most dominant country F-AUS ($34,700).  Comparatively, F-USA has earned almost as much as the two most dominant male teams M-ESP ($138,000) and M-GBR ($102,700) combined.

In looking at the breakdown of the F-USA winnings per athlete, we can see how each of the 10 money earners has contributed to this season’s dominance.  The top 3 earners for F-USA, Gwen Jorgensen ($90,000), Katie Zaferes ($56,000), and Sarah True ($26,000) are also the top 3 overall female earners, as well as the top 1, 2, and 4 athletes in the WTS rankings.  Furthermore, Jorgensen and Zaferes have each personally earned more prize money this YTD than any other opposing women’s country or any single male competitor.


Entire Women’s Field

The below chart displays every single female WTS prize money winner this YTD, their cumulative prize total, and which races their prize money came from.  In total, 58 different women (compared to 66 men) have earned prize money from the previous six races.  The shape of this chart isn’t altogether unexpected because the names at the pointy end of the results list tend to remain the same from race to race, whereas the field fluctuates more and more as we move down the long tail.  What doesn’t immediately stand out due to the nature of this chart is the number of races from which an athlete has earned prize money this season. However, it is worth noting that several women outside of the top 5 earners have repeatedly won prize money this year.

Also worth noting is the effect of the WTS Cape Town winnings (Orange) on the overall prize purse distribution.  The Cape Town event is of interest as it is the only WTS event this year that Gwen Jorgensen has not participated in.  In total, 11 of this season’s 58 prize winners have earned the majority of their cumulative total winnings from competing in Cape Town, compared to 7 women each from the next highest event.



Entire Men’s Field (for comparison)