In 2016, Dustin Johnson took home a check for $1,800,000 for his maiden U.S. Open title at Oakmont Country Club.
The next year, Brooks Koepka cashed a check for $2,160,000 – an increase of $360,000. Gary Woodland (2019) and Bryson DeChambeau (2020) received direct deposits of $2,250,000.
Winning the U.S. Open, however, wasn’t always a guaranteed payday worth millions.
When Jack Nicklaus won the U.S. Open in 1980, for example, his winning share was worth $55,000. The median U.S. household income at the time was $17,000. Nicklaus’ payday was worth just three times more than what the average U.S. family earned in one year.
So while $55,000 was a lot of money for a tournament, it was money that many Americans could relate to as many earned it in a single year while others earned it in two to three years time.
This weekend’s winner, though, will take home $2,250,000. And with a median U.S. household income of just $65,712, it’s money the average U.S family sees as simply fantasy cash.
Since 1980, the median U.S. household income has increased by less than $50,000 or four times greater, while the payouts for the U.S. Open Winners have increased by $2,195,00 or 41 times greater.
Here’s a look at some milestones.
1895: Three-Figure Payday
In the very first U.S Open tournament, back in 1895, the winner, England’s Horace Rawlins, received a check for $150. The household income was $300.
First Prize: $150 (2x less)
Household Income: $300
1931: Prize Hits Four-Figures
It took 36 more years for the prize money to hit four-digits when Billy Burke took home $1,750 for his win. The median household income was $1,970.
First Prize: $1,750 (1.1x less)
Household Income: $1,970
1959: Payout Hits Five-Figures
Billy Casper won $12,000 for capturing the 1959 Open. It was the first year a winner received a prize worth 5-figures. The average American family reportedly made $3,856.
First Prize: $12,000 (3.1x greater)
Household Income: $3,856
1985: Check Hits Six-Figures
It took another 26 years for the winner’s share to enter in to the six-figure category. In 1985, Andy North took home $103,000 for his U.S. Open title. The American family income was $22,259.
First Prize: $103,000 (4.6x greater)
Household Income: $22,259
2002: First $1 Million Dollar Payday
In the year 2002, Tiger Woods won $1 million to mark the first time a champion took home a seven-figure payday. In 2002, incomes for Americans averaged $41,911.
First Prize: $1,000,000 (23.9x greater)
Household Income: $41,911
2017: First $2 Million Dollar Payday
In the year 2017, Brooks Koepka won $2.16 million to mark the first time a winner earned over two-million. In 2017, the household income for Americans averaged $59,039.
First Prize: $2,160,000 (36.6x greater)
Household Income: $59,039
- U.S. Open Prize Money
- U.S. Household Income
This story originally appeared ahead of the 2016 U.S. Open. It has been updated to reflect recent milestones and payouts.