Detailed findings and methodology:
The events were ranked based on the maximum amount a person could take home for winning the event (or competing in it if their pay was not contingent on success).
In the case of team sports, this was done by dividing the advertised prize for the winning team divided by the number of team members. The money athletes get for competing in regular games as part of their contract was not considered. We only included one entry for each different type of sport.
Some of these winnings fluctuate from year to year. For instance, the winning pot in the World Series of Poker varies each year. Similarly, for some team tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, clubs can determine how any championship winnings should be divided among the players. For annual or regularly occurring events, we used the most recent available data on winners’ payouts. For non-annual events that only occur once, like a title fight, we used the payout for that specific event.
In combat sports events, athletes do not even have to win in order to make millions. Before the fight begins, boxers and UFC fighters agree upon how to split the money the fights bring in — from Pay Per View sales, tickets, and licensing fees. So there is not really a purse for the winner. We ranked these cases on the reported earnings from the fighter earning the most.