Darts’ popularity has skyrocketed in the last 20 years, with record-breaking viewing figures on TV and at venues.
Darts is no longer regarded as a beer-swilling pub game, but rather as a serious sport involving top-tier players and even higher stakes. And, as a result of the increased media attention, a slew of big-name sponsors have jumped on board, eager to share the limelight.
The World Darts Championship, one of the highlights of the festive season, has seen a significant increase in prize money.
Phil Taylor has won the tournament 16 times, the first in 1990 and the most recent in 2013. Prior to the split and the formation of the Professional Darts Corporation, the BDO was responsible for the first two world titles.
However, compared to today’s standards, the prize money for the PDC was small even in its early years. In fact, Taylor made less money after his first 11 PDC World titles than Peter Wright did after winning the 2022 title at the Alexandra Palace for £500,000.
Taylor’s first PDC World title win in 1995 brought him only £12,000 in prize money. It reached £45,000 in 1997, but then fell below that level for the next few years.
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On the Professional Darts Circuit, Peter Wright is a two-time world champion.
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Prize money began to rise dramatically after legendary sports promoter Barry Hearn became PDC chairman in 2001. Hearn famously promised to make the best players “millionaires.”
The overall prize fund had nearly doubled from 2001 to £237,000 by 2003, with John Part taking home £50,000 as the winner. In 2007, the top prize was £100,000, and in 2010, it was £200,000. When Taylor won his last world title in 2013, the figure remained the same. The winner’s prize has increased from £250,000 to £500,000 since 2015, with the runner-up receiving £200,000.
Meanwhile, the total prize pool for the most recent World Championship was £2.5 million.