As soon as you get to a decent level in darts, maybe you have a good darts average, win more league games than you lose, or are a powerhouse scorer filling up the treble 20 every time to step up to the oche, there comes a time when you look into how easy (or realistic) it could be to play professionally?
Darts is one of the few sports where most people have a good chance of turning pro. To be the best, you obviously need an elite-level mentality, the ability to handle nerves, and of course, be incredibly consistent with your throw.
Unlike other sports though, genetics do not play a part and you don’t necessarily need to be young or an athlete to play darts.
If you have the motivation – or ability – to turn professional, one of the first questions you need to consider with darts as a career is how much do professional dart players make?
If you need to support a family or pay for a home/car/bills, an important consideration is not only whether or not you are good enough to play professionally but whether it’s even worth it financially!
Therefore, in this article, I’ll cover how much money professional dart players make, what opportunities are available (sponsorship?), and how much the highest earners really make.
How Do Professional Dart Players Make Money
Before we get into how much professional dart players make, you first need to know how they make money and what opportunities there are within the game of darts.
Firstly, even amateur dart players can make money if they are good enough. You don’t need to give up your day job to earn some extra money from darts. To start making money from darts, you need to look into local leagues and competitions.
While the pro circuit has sponsorship and tv rights money to provide a healthy cash prize for competitors, local leagues and competitions have prize money available too. For an entry fee (usually £25 – £50 in the UK) some tournaments can pay out £200 to as much as £1,000 for the really big tournaments.
If you join a few leagues then you’ll also compete for trophies and prize money at the end of the season. The payouts for these are much smaller but still, it’s a way to earn some cash from playing the game. You will need to pay subs and entry fees for the privilege though.
Once you get onto the professional darts circuit, the majority of professional darts players will earn a living from competition prize money.
There are three primary ways that professional dart players make money:
- Competition Prize Money
- Guest Appearances
Below, I’ll cover each of these specific income streams in more detail.
- Competition Prize Money
The main way that professional darts players make money is through competition prize money. Since the PDC started to grow the TV presence for darts, the sport of darts has become more popular globally and this increased TV revenue has meant more money is available for competition prize money.
To demonstrate just how lucrative the prize money has become in darts, let’s take a look at the prize money on offer over the years. The prize money on offer for the 2021 PDC World Championship (the biggest tournament in darts) was a huge £2,500,000 with the top 64 places guaranteed a minimum of £7,500 just for competing.
The winner was also guaranteed £500,000 with further money available for specific feats during the tournament like a 9-dart finish (which is surprisingly common these days). The full tournament prize money breakdown was as follows:
|Position||Number of Players||Prize Money (£2,500,000)|
|Fourth round losers||(8)||£35,000|
|Third round losers||(16)||£25,000|
|Second round losers||(32)||£15,000|
|First round losers||(32)||£7,500|
To show just how large the prize money has grown in darts over the last decade, the total prize money on offer in 2010 was £1,000,000 total. This is a 150% increase in the space of 11 years which is an astronomical amount when you consider the already large sum was set at £1,000,000!
For anyone that follows darts, you’ll appreciate that this is just one huge tournament each year, however, there are other tournaments and qualifiers throughout the year where professionals earn qualifying points but also earn additional prize money for each tournament.
One example is the darts Super Series which offers a total prize pot of £75,000 for each event. As mentioned earlier, even amateur players can enter tournaments to earn money but once you turn professional, there is the opportunity over the course of the year to earn up to £1,000,000 in prize money – for the best players that is!
While that prize money is available, there are not many professional players earning the very large sums on offer so we’ll cover that a bit later in this article when we look at specific earnings and a reasonable annual earning for a professional player.
The next most common way for professional dart players to earn money is through sponsorship. If you look at a darts player on a televised tournament, you’re bound to see the players with sponsor logos on their shirts.
These logos are not just for show, brands pay players for the shirt “real estate” and more importantly, will also cover expenses like travel and accommodation for tournaments.
This is arguably the most beneficial aspect of sponsorship as the expenses are a serious barrier to entry for potential aspiring pros. The cost of traveling to each tournament – especially international tournaments – is not cheap and it’s also not covered by the organization.
Therefore, If you want to earn enough ranking points to enter the large competitions, you’ll need to finance yourself through these initial tournaments and competitions.
Matthew Edgar has previously documented the hidden costs so if you want to see what a UK player pays in expenses for each tournament, check out the video below:
While exact sponsor fees can vary between players, a good example is James Wade (a frequently ranked top 10 player) who has his own sponsorship page set up to entice brands to support him and gain visibility for shirt sponsorship – mentioned above – alongside other press opportunities.
- Guest Appearances
Finally, many of the lower-ranked players will earn money from local guest appearances and exhibition games. Tournaments, leagues, and bars/pubs will hire players to play some exhibition games in order to boost visibility and drive sales for their establishments.
For the players, these guest appearances are not huge moneymakers and are instead used to supplement their income or pay for expenses when playing in tournaments away from home.
While top players can charge up to £6,000 for a guest appearance and exhibition fee, more realistic earnings for most players will be in the £250 – £500 range.
If you’re interested in booking a player for an exhibition, there’s a dedicated website which you can find here – http://www.dartsexhibitions.co.uk/
How Much Do Professional Dart Players Make
Now that you know how professional dart players make money, it’s time to answer the question you’ve likely been waiting for:
How much do professional dart players make?
The top 10 professional dart players can earn between £100,000 – £500,000 annually in prize money. For the top 159 registered professional players, the average annual earnings are £43,213. This figure is for prize money and these players also earn money through sponsorship and exhibition fees.
Data source – https://www.pdc.tv/order-of-merit/pdc-order-merit
The average UK salary (I’m using the UK because this is where the majority of professional players are based) is £31,461 so the average professional darts player looks to make more than this figure. This, however, can be quite misleading as the top 10 players earn the majority of the total prize money on offer.
For the professional players ranked in positions 11 – 159, the average annual earnings (through prize money) is £28,406. This, as you can see, is below the UK average salary and does not factor in expenses such as travel, accommodation, tournament entry fees, taxes, and equipment.
While the prize money on offer is very lucrative in modern darts, this is only really relevant for those at the very top of the sport. In order to supplement their income, professional players require brand sponsorship and exhibition fees in order to reduce expenses and playing costs.
Who Is the Highest Paid Dart Player
As mentioned earlier, those at the very top of the sport can make a very lucrative earning from darts. At the time of writing (August 2021), Gerwyn Price is the highest-paid dart player taking in £1,306,500 ($1,810,070) over the course of two years.
Peter Wright is the second-highest earner in terms of prize money making £1,128,750 ($1,564,221) with Michael Van Gerwen rounding off the top three earning £983,750 ($1,363,325). After this point, no player earns more than £500,000 ($1,000,000) over a two year period so the highest-paid dart players over a two year period are:
- Gerwyn Price – £1,306,500 ($1,810,070)
- Peter Wright – £1,128,750 ($1,564,221)
- Michael Van Gerwen – £983,750 ($1,363,325)
This only includes prize money. The highest-earning players will also earn substantial money through sponsorship deals and exhibition fees, however, this is not publicly disclosed information so we can’t provide sponsorship or exhibition earnings data here.
When you look at how much darts have been growing over the last two decades, it’s natural to be enticed by the huge prize money sums on offer for professional players.
If you think you’re good enough to turn professional, an incredibly important consideration is how much you could expect to earn each year as a pro player.
Based on the PDC prize money data available, the top-ranked 159 players on the circuit can expect to earn £28,406 ($39,375) annually from prize money alone, further earnings can then come from sponsorship and exhibition earnings in addition.
To make a comfortable living from darts, you’d need to be within the top 100 players globally and for this reason, it’s not a career path that most people can feasibly embark on.
For those that are considering it though, and have some promise in terms of ability, the prize money for the top players is so lucrative that it can definitely be a high-earning career for the best players!