The top 20 most expensive sports in the world ranked

The top 20 most expensive sports in the world ranked

Engaging in sports is a fantastic and popular way to spend your time. Some use it for leisure, fitness, and socialising, while others participate in sports for competitive reasons. But while some sports activities are cheap to organise, learn, and play, some are insanely costly. Discover the most expensive sports in the world.

American football, Formula One car racing, and yacht racing depicted side by side.
American football (L), Formula One (C) and Yatch racing sports events (R). Photo: Simon Galloway, DAVID GRAY (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images


When compiling this list of the most expensive sports in the world, we used a combination of factors such as the sport's exclusivity, equipment cost, training, participation costs, and salaries of participants. While we've aimed for accuracy, estimating the exact cost of a sport involves many factors, making the list subjective.

Most expensive sports in the world

What's the most expensive sport? The most expensive sports in the world include events like Formula One Racing, Tennis, and Equestrian. Each sport is unique and requires different maintenance, equipment, and training costs.

What is the most expensive sport in order? Here are the most expensive sports in the world and their costs.

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1Formula One
2Yacht racing
3Horse racing
4Equestrian competitions
6American Football (NFL)
7Ice hockey
12Competitive swimming
13Baseball (MLB)
14Basketball (NBA)
15Professional soccer
18Ski Jumping
19Hot air balloon racing

1. Formula One

A red Ferrari speeding on a racetrack in Fiorano Modenese
A new Ferrari SF-24 car is on track during the Scuderia Ferrari Official Filming Day at Fiorano Circuit in Fiorano Modenese, Italy. Photo: Emmanuele Ciancaglini
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Cars, track
  • First played: 1946
  • Highest governing body: Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)

What is the most expensive sport in the world? Formula One Racing is the most expensive sport in the world. According to Equity Atlas, the sport is costly because of the high team budgets, which can cost more than $400 million annually. In addition, the cost of the cars is high, with each unit costing around $15 million.

2. Sailing

A modern racing yacht speeding through the water with colourful sails catching the wind.
A racing Yacht during the 37th America's Cup Preliminary Regattas in Vilanova i la Geltru, Spain. Photo: Eric Alonso
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Yachts, sailboats
  • First played: 18th century
  • Highest governing body: World Sailing (WS)

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Sailing, the art of moving a boat or similar vessel by harnessing the waves and the wind, is a sporting pursuit. According to Two Get Lost, the most expensive exclusive sailboats fetch around $25 million to $450 million. The American Cup boats can cost between $8 million to $10 million. Sailing the yacht for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) costs up to $6,500.

3. Horse racing

Horseback riders participating in official trials on Caulfield Heath track at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia.
A general view of official trials on the new Caulfield Heath track (inside) at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Horses, racecourse
  • First played: 700 BC–40 BC
  • Highest governing body: International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA)

Horse racing is a performance sport involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys or sometimes without riders over a set distance for competition. Per Doubled Trailers, a racing horse costs between $5,000 and $300,000. The average annual cost of racehorse maintenance is $50,000.

4. Equestrian competitions

Equestrian rider and horse in action, jumping over a hurdle.
A show-jumping horse with a rider jumping over hurdles during an equestrian competition. Photo: Zocha_K
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Horses, equestrian horse riding apparel
  • First played: 682 BC
  • Highest governing body: International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI)

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Equestrian competition is a three-day sports event involving testing the overall abilities of horses and riders. Equestrian competition can be costly due to the high costs associated with equipment (helmets cost between $180 and $1,000) and owning, training, and maintaining a horse.

5. Polo

Two men on horses playing polo, swinging mallets to hit a small ball on a grass field.
Two Polo players are enjoying a game at the National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida. Photo: Joel Auerbach
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Polo pony, mallet, ball, protective wear
  • First played: 6th C. BCE–1st C. CE
  • Highest governing body: Federation of International Polo

Polo is a traditional field sport played on horseback with two teams of four players. Professional Polo is exceptionally costly due to the high fees associated with it. For example, according to Forbes, each match requires around 8 to 10 ponies with an average cost of $45,000 per horse.

6. American football (NFL)

A group of football players sprinting on a field during a match.
A football team is in action, with a professional running back leading. Photo: Thomas Barwick
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Football, football helmet, protective pads
  • First played: 6 November 1869
  • Highest governing body: The International Federation of American Football (IFAF)

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American football, made famous by the NFL, is a costly sport. Consisting of 32 teams, the NFL is one of the world's most valuable sports franchises, with the average team costing an estimated $5.1 billion, according to Forbes. The sport is also expensive to watch, with regular average tickets costing $151, while Super Bowl tickets range from $950 to $9,500.

7. Ice hockey

Two hockey players in action on the ice rink.
An overhead view of an ice hockey faceoff. Photo: Yellow Dog Productions
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Ice hockey pucks, sticks, skates, safety gear
  • First played: 1875
  • Highest governing body: International Ice Hockey Federation

According to Play Ice Hockey, an average player will spend a lot on equipment purchases and registration. The expenses increase dramatically for people intending to become pros with travel, league, and coaching fees, with costs of around $1,000 for proper equipment.

8. Fencing

A fencing match between two competitors, both in fencing gear.
Two fencers engaged in a fierce fencing match, wearing protective gear and holding their foils in a competitive stance. Photo: David Madison
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Épée, foil, sabre, body cord, lamé, grip
  • First played: 19th century
  • Highest governing body: The Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE)

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Fencing is a combat sport that features sword fighting. The sport can cost anywhere from around $2500 per year if you are a non-competitive fencer to upwards of $20,000 for internationally competitive fencers.

9. Tennis

A tennis player swinging a racket at a ball during a game of tennis.
Roberto Bautista of Spain during a first-round match of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar. Photo: Quality Sport Images
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Ball, racket, net
  • First played: 19th century
  • Highest governing body: The International Tennis Federation (ITF)

Tennis is a racket sport played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Unlike other games, tennis players are independent contractors who can spend $150,000 to $200,000 annually to play professionally with an entire support team. For those opting to go it alone, you are likely to incur expenses ranging from $40,000 to $100,000.

10. Bobsledding

A person joyfully sleds down a track on a red sled.
Latvia's Amelija Kotane competes in the women's Monobob heat1 bobsleigh during the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Photo: JUNG YEON-JE
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: High-tech sleigh, helmet
  • First played: 1870s
  • Highest governing body: International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF)

Bobsledding, or bobsleighing, is a winter sport requiring 2 to 4 athletes. According to The Pricer, Olympic bobsleds cost between $30,000 and $100,000, while normal ones cost between $1500 and $6000.

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11. Pentathlon

A group of athletes competing in a running event.
Kivanc Tasyaran (R) of Turkiye in action at the start of Men's Qual, in Laser Run, a part of Modern Pentathlon, at the European Games 2023 in AWF Sports Center, Krakow, Poland. Photo: Artur Widak
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Track, field and sporting gear (depending on the event)
  • First played: 708 BC in Ancient Greece
  • Highest governing body: Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM)

Pentathlon is an Olympic sport that comprises five events: fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting, and running. Participating in a pentathlon can be expensive due to the diverse range of equipment and specialised training required for each event.

12. Competitive swimming

A swimmer wearing a headband in a pool, gracefully gliding through the water.
Tessa Cieplucha of Canada competes in the Women's 400m IM final on day seventeen of the Doha 2024 World Aquatics Championships. Photo: Ian MacNicol
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Swimming pool and gear
  • First played: 2000 BC
  • Highest governing body: World Aquatics

Competitive swimming is costly due to various associated costs, including fees, equipment, gear, and lesson costs. Pro swimmers in the US can earn an average of $40,000 per year (if ranked top 16 in the world in an Olympic event).

13. Baseball

A man in a batting cage gripping a baseball bat, ready to swing.
Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros trains during spring training workouts at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Rich Storry
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Baseball, baseball bat, baseball glove, batting helmet, catcher's gear
  • First played: 18th-century England (predecessors), 19th-century United States (modern version)
  • Highest governing body: World Baseball Softball Confederation

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Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players, taking turns batting and fielding. The sport is among the most expensive to run, thanks to expenditure on equipment, salaries (it has no salary cap), and maintenance, among others.

14. Basketball

An individual in red attire jumping up to slam dunk a basketball.
A man in a red shirt leaping high to dunk a basketball on a basketball court. Photo: Jupiterimages
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Basketball
  • First played: 21 December 1891, Springfield, Massachusetts, US
  • Highest governing body: International Basketball Federation (FIBA)

Basketball, made popular by the NBA, is a team sport where two teams of five players oppose one another on a rectangular court. It is among the most costly due to the teams' and players' values. According to Forbes, the average NBA team is worth an estimated $3.85 billion in 2023 valuation.

15. Association football

Soccer players engaged in a match on a field.
A competitive international football match is in action. Photo: Lighthouse Films
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Football (or soccer ball), shin pads
  • First played: Mid-19th century England
  • Highest governing body: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

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Soccer or football is the world's most popular sport. The game incurs high costs in events, player salaries, facilities and equipment. In addition, soccer consists of some of the world's most valuable football teams, leagues and players. For example, the Premier League in England is the most expensive in the world, estimated at $11.4 billion.

16. Golf

Golf ball on the green grass field.
A close-up of a golf ball resting on the perfectly manicured green. Photo: Thomas Northcut
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Ball, clubs, tee
  • First played: 15th century, Kingdom of Scotland
  • Highest governing body(s): The R&A, USGA, IGF

Professional golfing can be a costly endeavour. Costs associated with the game include memberships ranging up to $10,000 per year, tournament entry fees, equipment, travel, and accommodation.

17. Gymnastics

A gymnast performing a handstand on the bars.
Ukraine's gold medallist, Lllia Kovtun, competes during the men's parallel bars balance beam event final of the 2024 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Cairo. Photo: Khaled DESOUKI
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Floor, vault, uneven bars, balance beam, still rings, pommel horse, parallel bars, and horizontal bar
  • First played: Ancient Greece (Sparta and Athens)
  • Highest governing body: Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG)

Gymnastics can be costly due to the expenses associated with classes, outfits, competitions, coaching, travel, and team uniforms. According to Rookie Road, the average annual cost of participating in gymnastics can be around $2,300. However, these costs can vary based on location, level of competition, and specific program requirements.

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18. Ski Jumping

A ski jumper in mid-air, soaring through the sky with skis pointed downwards.
Japan's Ryoyu Kobayashi competes in a men's ski jumping World Cup event in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan. Photo: Kyodo News
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Skis
  • First played: 22 November 1808, Olaf Rye, Eidsberg church, Eidsberg, Norway
  • Highest governing body: International Ski Federation (FIS)

Ski Jumping is a professional winter sport where competitors aim to jump the farthest after sliding down a specially designed ramp. According to What It Costs, used gear can cost a jumper $400 to $1,500 and new gear $1,300 to $3,000.

19. Hot air balloon racing

A group of colourful hot air balloons.
Colourful hot air balloons prepare to float during a festival. Photo: RUSSEIL christophe
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Hot air balloon
  • First played: 19 October 1783, Paris
  • Highest governing body: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI)

Hot air balloon racing is a costly venture requiring experienced and trained personnel. The average cost of a hot air balloon ride can range from $150 to $400 per person. Costs for purchasing a balloon can range from $22,000 to $45,000.

20. Lacrosse

Lacrosse player dressed in uniform, holding a stick.
A lacrosse goalkeeper in action, ready to defend the goal with determination and agility. Photo: Daniel Milchev
Source: Getty Images
  • Equipment: Lacrosse stick, ball, and various body armour or pads
  • First played: 12th century, modified by Europeans in the 17th century
  • Highest governing body: World Lacrosse (WL)

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Lacrosse is a contact team sport played with a lacrosse stick and ball. The cost of playing lacrosse is substantial, with fees ranging from equipment with full gear averaging $250 to team fees like training, venue fees, and coaching, which can also cost a lot.

What is the most expensive sport to learn?

Formula One is one of the most expensive sports to learn because of the costs involved. The equipment needed to train you is high-tech and costs millions of dollars.

Which sports have the most money?

The sports with the most money include Formula One, with an average player salary of $10.89 million; basketball (NBA), with $10.82; baseball million (MLB), with $4.9 million; hockey (NHL), with $3.5 million and American football (NFL) with $2.8 million.

Above are the top most expensive sports in the world. The list includes sports like racing, soccer, tennis, American football, Pentathlon and more.

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Throughout history, there have been costly items that sell or have sold for millions. But with the innovation of technology and changing times, what is currently the most expensive thing in the world?


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