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Wakeboarding is a water sport in which competitors perform various tricks and aerial maneuvers on a board while being pulled by a boat. As in other sports, there are various wakeboarding competitions offering prize money to competitors. However, because wakeboarding is not a major sport, it is unlikely that someone would be able to sustain a full-time career solely through these competitions. There are some other ways for wakeboarders to make money, but only a few people actually earn a salary.
Methods of Compensation
Wakeboarders' sources of pay include prize money from competitions, sponsorships, sponsor incentives for promotional appearances and competitive activity and royalties on sales of branded products. Sponsorships for wakeboarding are similar to sponsorships in other areas in that larger companies generally offer more money than smaller companies.
Kinds of Sponsorship
There are several kinds of sponsorships for wakeboarders. At the low end is the shop sponsorship, in which a wakeboarder promotes a local shop in return for free or discounted gear. Beyond this are regional sponsorships, in which the wakeboarder represents a company in a specific region in return for free gear and possibly some incentives. Finally, there are national sponsorships, which may involve various incentives and, in some cases, a salary.
It is somewhat difficult to obtain salary information for professional wakeboarders, in part because it is such a niche profession. However, the Sun-Sentinel in Florida cites the annual earning potential for top athletes at as much as $150,000, plus another $300,000 in sponsorships and endorsements. Exact numbers vary based on the kinds of sponsorship deals and contracts a professional wakeboarder is able to sign.
The salary distribution among wakeboarders is such that only a small percentage of top competitors are truly professionals, making a living from competitive wakeboarding alone. In fact, mid-level wakeboarders often supplement their income by offering lessons or working for a company that sells wakeboarding gear. For the majority of wakeboarders, competitive wakeboarding does not provide full-time income.
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