How much money does the Indy 500 winner receive? Prize purse explained

The Indianapolis 500 is a race like no other and packs one of the richest prizes in all of motorsports.

How has the prize fund for the Indy 500 evolved?

Since its first running in 1911, the winner’s take-home check has ballooned from the $14,250 that Ray Harroun received that year. 

Over time, some serious financial barriers were broken, notably in 1957 when Sam Hanks took home $103k, Danny Sullivan’s famous spin-and-win was worth $517,662 and we had our first millionaire victory in 1989, when Emerson Fittipaldi scooped $1,001,604.  

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Emmo’s first victory check that year was more than the prize purse from every running from 1911 to 1970! A driver’s winnings very much depends on the circumstances of the time, including the financial health of the sanctioning body, as well as the TV deal details and ticket sales.  

The winner of the race receives about 20% of the prize purse, which is then appropriated in a sliding scale for the rest of the 33-car field. Bonuses such as pole position – eg: Scott Dixon won $100,000 for pole in 2021 – and laps led very much affect the outcome of each car’s winnings too. 

The prize money is awarded by Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the cash going to each entrant’s car. The drivers have contracts that state what percentage of the winnings they take, while the team owner will then spread that around the team as well as taking his or her own share. 

 Hélio Castroneves

Hélio Castroneves

Photo by: IndyCar Series

What was the biggest Indy 500 paycheck?

In 2009, Team Penske and Helio Castroneves took home the biggest paycheck in Indy 500 history: $3,048,005. Of his $2.5million winnings in 2018, Will Power told motorsport.com of his own personal terms, “I didn’t quite get 50% of it but I was pretty close!” 

Perhaps the most unfortunate driver in Indy history, in terms of prize winnings, was Takuma Sato. His victory in front of the first-ever crowd-less Indy 500 – run in August 2020 (due to the Covid-19 pandemic) – netted him 'only' $1.3m. This compares with the $2,458,129 he won in 2017 in front of a packed audience. 

It was doubly galling as, before the pandemic forced a reappraisal, new IndyCar owner Roger Penske had previously pledged a richest-ever prize purse of $15m.

As last year’s prize purse was skewed, here’s the 2019 pot breakdown from first to last:

Pos

Driver

Prize money

1

Simon Pagenaud

$2,669,529

2

Alexander Rossi

$759,179

3

Takuma Sato

$540,454

4

Josef Newgarden

$462,904

5

Will Power

$444,554

6

Ed Carpenter

$450,554

7

Santino Ferrucci

$435,404

8

Ryan Hunter-Reay

$379,129

9

Tony Kanaan

$369,129

10

Conor Daly

$230,805

11

James Hinchcliffe

$365,129

12

James Davison

$220,305

13

Ed Jones

$233,305

14

Spencer Pigot

$377,229

15

Matheus Leist

$344,129

16

Pippa Mann

$200,305

17

Scott Dixon

$359,204

18

Helio Castroneves

$200,305

19

Sage Karam

$204,305

20

JR Hildebrand

$200,305

21

Jack Harvey

$200,305

22

Oriol Servia

$203,305

23

Marcus Ericsson

$384,629

24

Jordan King

$200,805

25

Charlie Kimball

$200,305

26

Marco Andretti

$334,129

27

Graham Rahal

$334,129

28

Felix Rosenqvist

$353,279

29

Zach Veach

$334,129

30

Sebastien Bourdais

$342,129

31

Kyle Kaiser

$205,305

32

Ben Hanley

$200,805

33

Colton Herta

$351,129

And here is the all-time list, including the prize purse and winner’s reward:

Year

Total purse

Winner

Winner's prize

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

AJ Foyt

$117,975

1962

$426,152

Rodger Ward

$125,015

1963

$494,030

Parnelli Jones

$148,513

1964

$506,575

AJ Foyt

$153,650

1965

$628,399

Jim Clark

$166,621

1966

$691,808

Graham Hill

$156,297

1967

$734,834

AJ 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

AJ 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

$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

$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

$7.5 million

Takuma Sato

$1,370,500

 

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