Sports

Indy 500 purse, payout breakdown: How much prize money does the winner get in 2021?


The Indy 500 will be perhaps one of the biggest signs that sports are returning to normal in 2021. 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome 135,000 fans to the race, still well below the 400,000-plus people who have often been eyewitness to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but it will be the largest gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But with attendance back up, will the purse be back up to its normal totals after it was cut down for 2020

The 2020 purse was poised to be the largest in history, said Roger Penske, who bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019. After the decision was made to halt fan attendance for the 2020 race, the purse was cut in half from around $15 million to $7.5 million because there would be no ticket sales. 

Fans will be back in the stands this year, even if it won’t be back up to full capacity. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will only allow 40 percent capacity in an effort to keep fans socially distanced. 

MORE: Here are the 5 closest Indianapolis 500 finishes in race history

How much does the Indy 500 winner get?

Prize money: $2 million (est.)

This is an estimate based on past Indy 500 payout breakdowns and the 2019 and 2020 purses.

To this point, there has not been a purse announced for the 2021 race, so there is no telling what the prize for the top spot will look like. Given that fans will be back in the stands, it will certainly be more than the $1,370,500 prize earned by Takuma Sato for winning last year’s race, but it might not quite reach the $2,669,529 top prize for Simon Pagenaud, who won the Indy 500 in 2019. 

According to a report from the Indianapolis Star, the prize for the winner has steadily decreased in terms of percentage of the total purse won to where the first-place finisher receives between 15 and 20 percent of the pot. 

Still, the winner can expect a healthy payday. Second-place finisher Scott Dixon received only $505,000 last year, less than half of what Sato received. The top spot again in 2021 should receive quite a bit more than the rest of the field. 

What is the Indy 500 purse for 2021?

Indy 500 purse: $10 million (est.)

The purse for the 2021 Indy 500 hasn’t been released publicly yet, but it likely figures to be somewhere between the $7.5 million pot in 2020 and the $13 million purse in 2019. 

With attendance at 40 percent, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will likely be able to increase the pot. The largest venue for sports in the world has become accustomed to filling up beyond the seating capacity of 257,325, however, as that is just the number of permanent seats available. So the 40 percent figure likely isn’t totally accurate. 

Penske had shown interest in making the 2020 pot the largest in the history of the race before the pandemic forced it to be reduced. With people once again paying to be in seats, he should have the chance to increase the purse back up past the $7.5 million pot last year. 

Indy 500 payout breakdown 2021

The payout for winners of the Indy 500 takes into account several factors beyond simply the placement of the drivers, but each one will be coming home with at least six figures, if recent history is any indication. 

The payout structure takes into account sponsors on certain drivers as well as race-day variables such as laps led and fastest laps. Last year, for example, Marco Andretti, who finished 13th, earned more than all but the top four finishers in the race. 

Below are the results from last year’s Indy 500, which saw its original purse size cut in half because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pos. Driver Earnings
1. Takuma Sato $1,370,500
2. Scott Dixon $505,000
3. Graham Rahal $403,500
4. Santino Ferrucci $300,000
5. Josef Newgarden $251,000
6. Patricio O’Ward $250,500
7. James Hinchcliffe $100,000
8. Colton Herta $200,500
9. Jack Harvey $200,000
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay $200,000
11. Helio Castroneves $100,000
12. Felix Rosenqvist $200,000
13. Marco Andretti $300,000
14. Will Power $200,000
15. Zach Veach $200,000
16. J.R. Hildebrand $100,000
17. Max Chilton $200,000
18. Charlie Kimball $200,000
19. Tony Kanaan $200,000
20. Rinus VeeKay $210,000
21. Fernando Alonso $100,000
22. Simon Pagenaud $210,000
23. Ben Hanley $100,000
24. Sage Karam $100,000
25. Spencer Pigot $100,000
26. Ed Carpenter $200,000
27. Alexander Rossi $200,000
28. Alex Palou $200,500
29. Conor Daly $100,000
30. Oliver Askew $200,500
31. Dalton Kellett $100,500
32. Marcus Ericsson $100,000
33. James Davison $100,000

Indy 500 payout history

Last year’s purse was the lowest since 1992, when it was $7,527,450 and Al Unser Jr. took home a prize of $1,244,184. The winners in each race also used to take home a larger share of the prize, though now that percentage tends to sit around 20 percent. 

Here are all the previous purses and earnings in the past 104 years of the Indy 500. 

Year Purse Winner Winner’s earnings
1911 $27,550 Ray Harroun $14,250
1912 $52,225 Joe Dawson $20,000
1913 $55,875 Jules Goux $20,000
1914 $51,675 Rene Thomas $20,000
1915 $51,200 Ralph DePalma $20,000
1916 $31,350 Dario Resta $12,000
1919 $55,275 Howdy Wilcox $20,000
1920 $93,550 Gaston Chevrolet $21,400
1921 $86,850 Tommy Milton $26,400
1922 $70,575 Jimmy Murphy $26,200
1923 $83,425 Tommy Milton $28,500
1924 $86,850 L.L. Corum/Joe Boyer $20,050
1925 $87,750 Peter DePaolo $28,800
1926 $88,100 Frank Lockhart $35,600
1927 $89,850 George Souders $30,625
1928 $90,750 Louis Meyer $28,250
1929 $95,150 Ray Keech $31,950
1930 $96,250 Billy Arnold $36,900
1931 $81,800 Louis Schneider $29,500
1932 $93,900 Fred Frame $31,050
1933 $54,450 Louis Meyer $18,000
1934 $83,775 Bill Cummings $29,725
1935 $78,575 Kelly Petillo $30,600
1936 $82,525 Louis Meyer $31,300
1937 $92,135 Wilbur Shaw $35,075
1938 $91,075 Floyd Roberts $32,075
1939 $87,050 Wilbur Shaw $27,375
1940 $85,525 Wilbur Shaw $30,725
1941 $90,925 Floyd Davis/Mauri Rose $29,200
1946 $115,450 George Robson $42,350
1947 $137,425 Mauri Rose $33,425
1948 $171,075 Mauri Rose $42,800
1949 $179,050 Bill Holland $51,575
1950 $201,035 Johnnie Parsons $57,458
1951 $207,650 Lee Wallard $63,612
1952 $230,100 Troy Ruttman $61,743
1953 $246,300 Bill Vukovich $89,496
1954 $269,375 Bill Vukovich $74,934
1955 $270,400 Bob Sweikert $76,138
1956 $282,052 Pat Flaherty $93,819
1957 $300,252 Sam Hanks $103,844
1958 $305,217 Jimmy Bryan $105,574
1959 $338,100 Rodger Ward $106,850
1960 $369,150 Jim Rathmann $110,000
1961 $400,000 A.J. Foyt $117,975
1962 $426,152 Rodger Ward $125,015
1963 $494,030 Parnelli Jones $148,513
1964 $506,575 A.J. Foyt $153,650
1965 $628,399 Jim Clark $166,621
1966 $691,808 Graham Hill $156,297
1967 $734,834 A.J. Foyt $171,527
1968 $712,269 Bobby Unser $175,139
1969 $805,127 Mario Andretti $206,727
1970 $1,000,002 Al Unser $271,697
1971 $1,001,604 Al Unser $238,454
1972 $1,011,845 Mark Donohue $218,767
1973 $1,006,105 Gordon Johncock $236,022
1974 $1,015,686 Johnny Rutherford $245,031
1975 $1,001,321 Bobby Unser $214,031
1976 $1,037,776 Johnny Rutherford $255,321
1977 $1,116,807 A.J. Foyt $259,791
1978 $1,145,225 Al Unser $290,363
1979 $1,271,954 Rick Mears $270,401
1980 $1,503,225 Johnny Rutherford $318,819
1981 $1,605,375 Bobby Unser $299,124
1982 $2,067,475 Gordon Johncock $290,609
1983 $2,411,450 Tom Sneva $385,886
1984 $2,795,899 Rick Mears $434,060
1985 $3,271,025 Danny Sullivan $517,662
1986 $4,001,450 Bobby Rahal $581,062
1987 $4,490,375 Al Unser $526,762
1988 $5,025,400 Rick Mears $809,853
1989 $5,723,725 Emerson Fittipaldi $1,001,604
1990 $6,325,803 Arie Luyendyk $1,090,940
1991 $7,009,150 Rick Mears $1,219,704
1992 $7,527,450 Al Unser Jr. $1,244,184
1993 $7,681,300 Emerson Fittipaldi $1,155,304
1994 $7,864,800 Al Unser Jr. $1,373,813
1995 $8,063,550 Jacques Villeneuve $1,312,019
1996 $8,114,600 Buddy Lazier $1,367,854
1997 $8,612,450 Arie Luyendyk $1,568,150
1998 $8,722,150 Eddie Cheever Jr. $1,433,000
1999 $9,047,150 Kenny Brack $1,465,190
2000 $9,476,505 Juan Pablo Montoya $1,235,690
2001 $9,610,325 Helio Castroneves $1,270,475
2002 $10,028,580 Helio Castroneves $1,606,215
2003 $10,151,830 Gil de Ferran $1,353,265
2004 $10,250,580 Buddy Rice $1,761,740
2005 $10,304,815 Dan Wheldon $1,537,805
2006 $10,518,565 Sam Hornish Jr. $1,744,855
2007 $10,668,815 Dario Franchitti $1,645,233
2008 $14,406,580 Scott Dixon $2,988,065
2009 $14,315,315 Helio Castroneves $3,048,005
2010 $13,592,815 Dario Franchitti $2,752,055
2011 $13,509,485 Dan Wheldon $2,592,255
2012 $13,285,815 Dario Franchitti $2,474,280
2013 $12,020,065 Tony Kanaan $2,353,355
2014 $14,231,760 Ryan Hunter-Reay $2,491,194
2015 $13,397,315 Juan Pablo Montoya $2,449,055
2016 $13,273,253 Alexander Rossi $2,548,743
2017 $13,178,359 Takuma Sato $2,458,129
2018 $13,078,065 Will Power $2,525,454
2019 $13,090,536 Simon Pagenaud $2,669,529
2020 $7,502,500 Takuma Sato $1,370,500




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