Chen Long badminton’s top prize-winner at US$298,413

Chen Long is the new top earner from world badminton prize money in 2015 with a total sum of US$298,413 after his compatriot Zhao Yunlei had topped the chart in […]

Chen Long is the new top earner from world badminton prize money in 2015 with a total sum of US$298,413 after his compatriot Zhao Yunlei had topped the chart in 2014 with US$246,145.  The top European player in the chart is Spaniard Carolina Marin with US$226,508 according to Badzine’s calculations.  Chinese shuttlers were the big winners, scooping more than a quarter of all prize money awarded in 2015.

Badzine reveals today the list of the top 50 badminton earners based on the prize money which was awarded during the 2015 season for all Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournaments.  This year, it was the world’s top men’s singles player who pulled down the most cash.  World #1 Chen Long (pictured top) was again successful playing for prestige – taking a second straight title at the BWF World Championships in Jakarta – but this year, he also took his success to the bank like never before.

Chen Long is a regular in this list of the top 50 prize winners, a list which does not take into account income from private sponsorships, national or private team salaries or earnings from professional leagues.  The Chinese star came second last year with US$225,000 but 2015 saw an increase in his winnings of close to US$75,000, thanks to an incredible year.  Most of his prize money came from wins in many of the most lucrative tournaments of the year, including the US$750,000 Australia Open, as well as the Denmark, Korea, All England, and Malaysia Opens, all of which offered half a million or more in total prize money.  Chen’s total this year exceeds by $6,000 the total achieved in 2013 by Lee Chong Wei, who also spent that entire calendar year in possession of the world #1 ranking.

Carolina Marin (pictured above) of Spain makes an impressive entry in the chart at the #2 spot.  She was not even in the top 50 in 2014, but this year she took in a sum of US$226,508 from events apart from her second consecutive win in the BWF World Championships, which itself yields prestige and ranking points but not cash.  Marin is the only shuttler from Europe who featured in the top 10 but there were eight other Europeans in the top 50, all from Denmark, with the exception of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock, who finished the year on a high that saw them share the winner’s cheque of US$42,000 from the Superseries Finals in Dubai.

Chong Wei still enters top 15, China dominates the total earning

Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, in spite of his absence for almost the first half of the year, still managed to grab the 14th spot with over US$116,000 of cash in 2015.  The fact that Lee had been out of the circuit for most of 2015 may well have had an impact on the top of this year’s chart as Chen Long was without one of his most dangerous opponents for the first six Superseries events, a danger that was underlined when Lee Chong Wei won the last three regular Superseries titles in succession.  The incredible run by Nozomi Okuhara in the Superseries Finals contributed more than half of the US$158,210 take that saw the Japanese 20-year-old take the #6 spot, just one behind her compatriot Kento Momota (pictured below), who pocketed US$190,288.

In 2015, just over US$10 million was distributed all around the planet in badminton tournaments from the $1 million Superseries Finals all the way down to the dozens of US$2,500 International Series-level events.  Well over a quarter of that money was won by players from China.  In fact, just the five ‘richest’ Chinese shuttlers accounted for nearly 10% of the annual total.

The richest pair this year was Korea’s Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured below).  Together, they pulled down over US$300,000.  Mixed doubles world #1 Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei are higher in the standings, though, as they were both more successful in two doubles disciplines, while neither Lee nor Yoo won very much from their respective mixed doubles outings.

1.5% of Djokovic’s earnings

If badminton’s prize money is slowly increasing, it’s still very far away from tennis.  According to the list of top earners in men’s tennis from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the amount that Chen Long won in 2015 is around 1.5% of the amount pocketed by Novak Djokovic, the top tennis prize-winner this year with over US$21 million dollars (source ProtennisLive).  While Chen Long earned just a little less money than Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, who is the 119th player on the ATP list, Djokovic actually won more than twice the amount awarded to all the world’s badminton players combined.


This is the fourth time that Badzine has compiled a list of the top prize winners.  All calculations have been done using the data from the official BWF World Rankings, published on the website.  All BWF events have been included in this calculation, including Superseries events, Grand Prix events, the Badminton Asia Championships, and International Challenges, where applicable.  Any extra income from private sponsorships, endorsements,  invitational tournaments, such as the Copenhagen Masters, and private leagues such as those in Indonesia, Malaysia, and China have been excluded from this list. For doubles pairs, it is assumed that the partners split prize money equally.

Excel Programming: Kira Rin / Badzine
Data Compilation: Badzine Staff


Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @