How prize money is determined…and how it can be collected

Bodybuilding promoter Chris Minnes goes into transparent detail about how bodybuilding prices are determined and the ways in which the sport can generate higher earnings.

Bodybuilding competitions, the athletes who participate and the fans who attend are the lifeblood of this growing sport. But many believe the sport will plateau in growth and popularity if the prize money cannot be raised. Although passion is a big factor for athletes who compete in bodybuilding, prize money is what allows these competitors to become career athletes. So what can be done to increase the total prize money and help develop the sport further? In our latest GI exclusive, bodybuilding promoter Chris Minnes explains how the prize money works and what can be done to increase it.

Cash prizes for big events such as the Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic often attract a lot of attention due to their big payouts. However, only one Bodybuilder can win first place and the big cash prize per year. Beyond these two flagship shows, the remaining trade shows offer relatively much lower amounts. Unlike other professional team sports like football, baseball, or basketball, bodybuilders don’t get paid just to be pros and compete. They must win.

This causes most professional bodybuilders to find other sources of income – as prize money alone cannot sustain their careers. Although there is a successful infrastructure of entrepreneurship and sponsorships, some believe the sport needs bigger cash prizes to take it to the next level. This, of course, is easier said than done. That’s why we turned to Chris Minnes, a successful bodybuilding promoter, to help us explain the award process.

Everything you need to know about bodybuilding prices

Chris Minnes begins by explaining that the NPC and IFBB Pro leagues have a minimum cash purse requirement. Most beginner NPC and Pro shows will start at this minimum amount as they attempt to gain more attention in order to build competition in the future. Hosting a bodybuilding competition incurs costs beyond running the event, including league entry fees in order to legally present the show.

So how do bodybuilding shows exceed the minimum price and still make a profit? Chris Minnes explains that the next decision to make is to bring in sponsors to help enable higher cash prizes. But as Minnes explains further, even high profile sponsorships can’t cover the cost of a big bodybuilding prize similar to what you’d see at the Mr. Olympia. So, if referrals aren’t enough, what can be done?

Fortunately, the rise of the internet has allowed for much more direct publicity of a bodybuilding show. And more recently, PPV live streaming is finally getting a foothold in competitive bodybuilding — even mid-tier shows can set up a stream quite easily. This opens up possible ticket sales astronomically in theory. A local NPC or IFBB Pro show is no longer limited by its location. It can be seen across the world.

Yet technological capability is only part of the equation. Promoters still need to get people interested in groups large enough to generate bigger revenue for bigger prizes. With so many contests each year, it can be difficult to stand out for a more local show.

This is where, according to Chris Minnes, the power of athletes is extremely important. Minnes believes athletes need to promote the events they attend much more and much earlier to help drive sales. This is simply not a plea for free publicity to make more money in Minnes. This is to make the competition earn more money so that he can then increase the quality of the show and increase the prize money. Minnes believes athletes, with their own online followings, can directly help improve their own profits by helping to promote the shows.

Finally, Chris Minnes also discusses how piracy is becoming a growing problem in the age of live PPV events. Bodybuilding promoters don’t have the massive network on the same level as a UFC PPV event – so they can’t get the same kind of security to stop illegal free streams. Minnes claims to have seen pirated streams of his shows rack up tens of thousands of views. In his mind, it’s the fans who directly steal money from athletes.

There are plenty of hurdles to overcome – and many can perhaps be seen as growing pains as the sport evolves alongside new technological options. You can watch Chris Minnes talk about it in full and refreshingly transparent detail in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Teresa E. Burton