Super Bowl 51 Prize Money: Bonus Payout Distribution for Patriots vs. Falcons

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 29, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 08:  Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos addresses the media during the trophy presentation at the Moscone Center West on February 8, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Super Bowl winners (and losers) have received bonus money since the first edition of the game in 1967. However, as the Super Bowl and NFL have grown exponentially in 51 seasons, the pocket money has skyrocketed into the six figures for the winning team.

According to Rachel G. Bowers of the Boston Globe, each player on the winning Super Bowl LI team will receive $107,000, while losing participants get a nice consolation prize of $53,000.

In total, players on the winning team would earn $183,000 in total postseason bonus money, having already taken home $27,000 in the divisional round and $49,000 in the conference round.

The losing team's total is still suitable, of course, at $129,000.

However, not every single player is eligible for the bonus. Former sports agent Joel Corry detailed who the beneficiaries are in an article for CBS Sports last year:

  • Players on the 53-man roster when the game is played that have been on the roster for at least three previous games (regular season or playoffs).
  • Veterans (at least one year of service) put on injured reserve during the regular season that are still under contract when the game is played.
  • Vested veterans (four or more years of service) put on injured reserve during the preseason that are still under contract when the game is played.
  • Players who aren't on the 53-man roster at game time that spent at least eight games on the roster (regular season or playoffs) provided they're not under contract to another team in the same conference.

Now, let's take a look at the history of Super Bowl prize money as well as the earning power for winning the Super Bowl MVP.


History of Super Bowl Prize Money

In 1967, each Green Bay Packer received $15,000 for winning the first Super Bowl, while each Kansas City Chief took home $7,500 as the runner-up, per NFL.com.

Those numbers stayed the same through Super Bowl XI until the price was bumped up to $18,000 for winners and $9,000 for losers in 1978.

And that figure stayed consistent until the strike season of 1982-83, when the prize winnings actually doubled for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII (I bet the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, participants in Super Bowl XVI, were pretty upset they missed out on that leap).

Through Super Bowl XXVII, the $36,000/$18,000 figures stayed, and then the numbers starting climbing higher every few years, to the point where it is now six figures for the winning team.

Take a look at the inflation numbers (via the United States Department of Labor) to see how much each share was really worth during a given year.

For example, quarterback Kenny Stabler and the Oakland Raiders received $15,000 each for winning Super Bowl XI. That number seems small relative to today's earnings, but $15,000 in 1977 had the buying power of $59,407.67 in 2016. Not too shabby.


Super Bowl MVP Money

As you can guess after seeing Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller nearly everywhere after his big game, the MVP (more often than not) can cash in on his newfound (or increased) celebrity.

Sometimes, that isn't the case. It ultimately depends much on the star power of the player, which is dependent on position (the flashier positions get the bigger bucks), the skill level (great players get more money than flashes in the pan) and, sometimes, charisma (which Miller has in spades).

Chris Smith of Forbes wrote a good article in February 2012 detailing the subject, and he cited Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees earning $3 million and $6 million, respectively, after their performances. On the flip side, wide receivers Deion Branch and Santonio Holmes did not receive the same opportunities for recent Super Bowl MVP wins.

Five years later, Rodgers and Brees are still getting a ton of spots, even though neither has been back to the Super Bowl. Just take a look at the list of commercials each of them has been in (Rodgers commercials hereBrees commercials here).

Meanwhile, check the ads Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith received after his performance. He only appears in two: the obligatory Disney World/Disneyland ad, and a Microsoft Surface spot that he shared with teammates.

Even if the Super Bowl LI MVP can't cash in, though, he can't beat the six-figure payday and a Super Bowl ring.


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