Top 10 Athlete Payouts for the 2019-2020 CrossFit Games Season

October 29, 2020 by
Photo courtesy of CrossFit LLC.

The 2020 CrossFit Games came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon and with it the tumultuous season that saw the COVID-19 pandemic change the landscape of the sport.

We have compiled, to the best of our knowledge, the 2019-2020 season final payout list. This list factors in prize money awarded for the Games, the Open, individual Sanctional paydays and event win bonuses.

One big thing: It was going to be a banner year for total athlete payouts based on the increase of Sanctional events from 15 during the 2018-2019 season to 28 for this season. However only ten of the Sanctionals went off before the pandemic eventually forced organizers to cancel.

  • Athletes saw 65% of their money-making opportunities taken away leaving those athletes who qualified for the Games through the Open and Sanctionals as the only ones eligible to make additional money through the Games $3.1 million dollar prize purse.
  • The forced Sanctional cancellations zeroed out large prize purses for the winners from West Coast Classic ($40,000), Granite Games ($25,000), Madrid CrossFit Championship ($10,000) and the French Throwdown ($11,000).
  • $2,918,604: The total prize money earned by individual athletes during the 2019-2020 season which is down from the $3,072,856 earned during the 2018-2019 season.
  • Events like the Rogue Invitational and the Dubai CrossFit Championship Online Challenge were not included in the list since they did not offer a path to the Games.
  • You can access the full payout breakdown on our payout tracker.

Men

  1. Mathew Fraser – $354,542
  2. Patrick Vellner – $128,060
  3. Samuel Kwant – $128,000
  4. Justin Medeiros – $101,000
  5. Brent Fikowski – $79,500
  6. Noah Ohlsen – $87,020
  7. Jeffrey Adler – $63,020
  8. Roman Khrennikov – $55,500
  9. Chandler Smith – $46,500
  10. Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson – $39,520

Inside the numbers of the men’s payouts:

  • For the fifth-straight year Fraser is the top earner thanks in part to once again winning the season’s largest prize purse, the Games.
  • Fraser made more this season than the second (Vellner) and third (Kwant) biggest money earners combined.
  • If Fraser’s winnings are broken down based on the 31 workouts he participated in during the season, he made $11,436.84 per workout.
  • Smith, who is an active duty Captain in the US Army, cracked the top-ten for the first time in his career with earnings of $46,500. The yearly salary of an active duty captain with over four years of service in the Army is $70,167.60.
  • According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of an American 20-24 year old male is $31,980 annually. 21-year old Medeiros made $101,000.
  • Kwant competed in the fewest events amongst the top-ten with two (the Open and Games) but finished third on the money list, setting a new career best in earnings.
  • Vellner finished second despite not competing in Aromas for the Games. His finish was spurred by huge paydays from his win at Wodapalooza and second place finish at the Dubai CrossFit Championship. 
  • Vellner moved up from fourth on last year’s list despite being cut from the Games competition for the second-straight year.
  • Vellner and fellow Canadian Adler competed in the most events in the top-ten at four apiece.
  • Eight of the top-ten finishers at the Games cracked the top-ten for earnings.
  • Fikowski and Khrennikov were the only two athletes who cracked the top-ten despite not finishing in the top-ten at the Games.
  • Guðmundsson moved past Jonne Koski for tenth on the money list after Lefteris Theofanidis had to forfeit the $2,020 for winning 20.1 in the Open due to a failed drug test. Guðmundsson, who originally finished second in that event, squeaked past Koski by $20.
  • Only four athletes from last year’s list repeated this year; Fraser (1st), Vellner (2nd), Ohlsen (6th) and Guðmundsson (10th).

Women

  1. Tia-Clair Toomey – $415,080
  2. Katrin Davidsdottir – $136,020
  3. Sara Sigmundsdottir – $119,020
  4. Kari Pearce – $110,020
  5. Haley Adams – $71,962
  6. Karin Freyova – $55,500
  7. Brooke Wells – $52,000
  8. Amanda Barnhart – $46,020
  9. Sam Briggs – $44,520
  10. Kristin Holte – $40,020

Inside the numbers of the women’s payouts:

  • Toomey tops all athletes, male or female, this year in total earnings during the Games season. This total does not include the $65,000 she won at the Rogue Invitational which was not a Games qualifying event due to the pandemic making them switch to an online competition.
  • It is Toomey’s fourth straight year as the top-earner coinciding with her fourth Games title.
  • Toomey set a new career-high this year despite the season being cut short due to the pandemic. Last year she earned $414,000.
  • Breaking down Toomey’s winnings based on the 39 workouts she participated in during the season, he made $10,643.07 per workout.
  • Sigmundsdottir moved up from fifth on last year’s list to third despite not earning any money for her 21st finish in this year’s Games.
  • Competing in five events during the season, Sigmundsdottir was the leader amongst the top-ten. She won the Filthy150, the Dubai CrossFit Championship and placed second at Wodapalooza. She also won the Open but CrossFit only pays out event wins in the Open and not overall placings.
  • The $75,000 Sigmundsdottir won at the Dubai CrossFit Championship is the highest prize purse won by any male or female during the season in a Sanctional.
  • According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of an American 16-19 year old female is $21,164 annually. The 19-year old Adams made $71,962.
  • Briggs joined Sigmundsdottir as the only athletes, male or female, to make the top-ten earnings list despite not winning any money through the Games.
  • Wells jumped from 24th on the money list to 7th with her Games performance. 
  • Holte edged out Jamie Simmonds by $20 to get into the top-ten.
  • All but $500 of Davidsdottir’s earnings were from the Games.
  • Six of the women in the top-ten are from outside the United States.
  • Seven athletes from last year’s list appeared again on this year’s list.
  • The top-five finishers at the Games finished in the top-seven of the earnings list.
  • The top-ten women out-earned the top-ten men by $7,500. The top-ten women made more money than their male counterparts last year by nearly $40,000, a significant difference compared to this year.

The bottom line: The pandemic ruined what would have been a lucrative year for CrossFit athletes worldwide. A full season would have benefitted all involved in CrossFit, especially athletes by allowing more of them to transition to becoming full-time which is necessary for the sport to grow. Athletes must be able to sustain themselves and profit from competing for the sport to grow into a true professional sport. The potential is definitely there and the hopes are with new CrossFit owner and CEO Eric Roza realizing this potential, that athletes will see a renewed path to making the sport of fitness a full-time career. What the 2021 season holds in terms of a Sanctionals and a true CrossFit games season is unknown at this time especially since we are still in the midst of the pandemic with no end in sight.

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