My dad sent me an e-mail with a link to an article. Obviously it was about badminton, and the link said “You’ve never heard of this ridiculously rich female athlete.” In the few seconds between me reading the link and actually clicking on it I was assuming, Tai Tzu -Ying, (current world #1) or Carolina Marlin (most recent Olympic gold winner). I was so wrong.
It’s PV Sindhu!
She’s not a gold Olympian or a World Champion, but her silver medal in the Olympics turns out to be worth much more than Carolina Marin’s gold, because no Indian woman had ever scored so high. From that win she got superstar status in India and the endorsement deals followed. ($8 million dollars worth this year.) I guess India really supports their own and it’s great to see her get such a financial reward.
Of course I watch Sindhu and admire her a lot (after all she, along with Nozomi Okuhara played arguably the most intense game of singles in recent history. I actually caught that game live and their stamina and game play–almost the longest game in World Championship history–was an amazing display of not only badminton skill but grit, determination and mental strength) but I am surprised that she earns so much. Not because of her, but because of badminton.
After all, badminton is famously low paid with prize pots of the biggest competitions only in the 10’s of thousands compared to hundreds of thousands or millions for other sports. And you can see that on the Forbes list which breaks down the earnings by prize money and endorsements. Sindhu made a mere $500,000 in prize money compared to everyone elses millions and millions. (The only person she made more prize money than was Serena Williams who had a baby and complications from the baby which prevented her from playing for the past year. But Serena is still #1 on the list due to the millions she makes in endorsements.)
Another interesting thing from the list is, aside from Sindhu and Danica Patrick (a race car driver) the entire top 10 list is dominated with tennis players. No basketball, soccer or boxing athletes which dominates the men’s highest earners list. Which logically leads to the next conclusion, why do female athletes make so little money?
There are no women on the Forbes list of Top 100 highest paid athletes.
Serena, the #1 on the women’s list, made 4 million less than the lowest ranked athlete on the top 100 list (though last year with more prize money she was the only female athlete to break into the top 100 list). Serena is basically a household name with more fame and acclaim that 2/3rd of the top male athletes, yet her earning is so puny compared to the men. And she is paid a lot more than other women athletes (#2 on the women’s list made 5 million less than Serena.)
So, while this is a great step forward for badminton in general, it really points out the glaring earnings discrepancy with female athletes. I would love to see a female badminton player break into the top 100 highest earning athletes and then I’d love if the whole list could be peppered with badminton players (both male and female). I’d also love to live underwater in a mermaid city and perhaps that is more likely to happen than badminton being a big earning sport in my lifetime, but we can all dream, eh?