2018 Nationals is in the books. Wow! And this year’s Nationals was a step-up for our sport in so many ways. One being that a title sponsor, Margaritaville, stepped in and provided the largest prize pool in pickleball history – $75,000. The sponsor was named a few months prior to the November event and I was curious to see if the USAPA would publicly list the prize money payouts or breakdown in the open divisions – who gets what? No such luck.
As was the case in 2017, the USAPA payout was never made public before the event. If you went to the Nationals website under FAQ the prize money was always “TBD”. After the 2017 Nationals I was curious if men and women had been be paid equally, so I inquired via email and found out that yes, men and women had been paid equally. Nice!
Fast forward to last month with the 2018 Nationals fast approaching, and my same question came up. Nope, nothing posted on the website. So, tournament begins and finishing fourth in open senior doubles, my partner Alex and I were instructed to head to Administration to collect our prize money. Boohoo, we screwed up and finished fourth, but yay we get some money. Fourth place has never received prize money at Nationals before. As we moseyed over to admin, we joked “hey maybe we’ll get $20 to cover lunch.” We had no idea of the payout … no one really did.
We met with the lady in charge of prize money and payouts. Yes, this was her job and she is the same person who pays out millions to the top tennis players who compete at Indian Wells Tennis Garden events like the BNP Paribas Open. Cool job right?! So, we sign our W-9 and wait for the funds to come from the safe somewhere down the hall … $400 each. WOW, that is great for fourth! She laughed at our surprise as she counted out crisp $100 bills.
She shared that the pickleball payouts for 1st – 4th place was the same per player. Meaning, each open (under age 50) and senior open (50+) singles, mixed doubles and gender doubles players were paid the same for 1st through 4th place finishes. This was awesome news to me. She further shared that in tennis this sort of payout is unheard of. For example, tennis singles get much more than doubles. Newsflash! USAPA Nationals pays equal across the board regardless of age and gender. Players should be privy to this good information.
So, with a few more questions to the prize money manager, I found out that this was the breakdown of the $75,000 to each player:
1st place = $2,250
2nd place = $1,300
3rd place = $750
4th place = $400
As I walked back to the courts with my cash for the day, I reflected on how cool that is, that the USAPA embraces an equal payout; after all, it is representative of their membership (In November 2018, over 82% of USAPA members were age 50 and better).
I raise my glass of electrolyte cocktail to the USAPA for spreading the prize money and rewarding from first to fourth place. This is GREAT news that should be publicized, marketed and shouted from the rooftops.
Note: prize money total is actually $75,200!