We all dream of living a rock star lifestyle, carefree and just doing what we want, traveling, and making the most of life but is this a feasible idea if you want to get paid to ride BMX? Surely with all the energy drink, shoe, and bike sponsors, BMX riders must be making a fortune or at least enough not to have to worry about mortgage payments, so how much money do BMX riders make? Let’s take a look at some of the more well-known BMXers and find out.
Dave Mirra sails above the average
Dave Mirra could easily be seen to have been the most high profile BMX riders of all time. Before he sadly passed away in 2016, he had an estimated net worth of $15million. This could easily be seen as a rock star amount of money and Mirra could undoubtedly have done whatever he wanted to.
Mirra could be seen as an outlier though. He was one of the most successful X Game’s athletes of all time, had a computer game based on him, hosted a TV show, and owned his own bike company. A pattern of work that not everyone will be able to imitate. He also had a lot of high profile sponsors, Haro, Recarco, Monster Energy, Nike, Puma, Maxxis Tires, Bell helmets, Subaru, Snafu, and his own company Mirraco.
If there is anyone who may exceed Dave Mirra, it is Mat Hoffman. Mat is worth an estimated $18million. At this point, you might be thinking of taking up vert riding. It is worth again noting that Mat diverged his business plans as well as his eponymous bike company, he also worked on TV shows (including the infamous Jackass), set the path up for the X Games and was pretty much one of the greatest riders of all time.
The golden age of X Games
Both Mirra and Hoffman were riding at the time BMX and action sports blew up and became TV fixtures and as leaders in the BMX field they had a huge chance to capitalize. Now if we look at the rider who has won vert at the last two X Games, we have Vince Byron. Vince does not appear on any athlete wealth guides, and his Wikipedia entry is only a few lines long. We could argue that he is a vert rider and not one of the current crop of street riders that you very probably look up to.
So, if we take a quick look at salaries and we find that the average salary for a pro BMXer is around $70,000. Not bad but also not enough to live on a rock star lifestyle. It is also worth remembering that this is an average and those above it are few and far between.
Scotty Cranmer’s wealth
Sitting somewhere between the gods of Mirra and Hoffman is Scotty Cranmer. He holds the biggest number of X Games BMX Park medals so can also have been seen to be hugely successful, and he runs his own Youtube channel with over 1.3million subscribers. Scotty though is only worth between $800,000 and $1million.
Although not an amount of money to be sniffed at, it is still nowhere near what is seen by the likes of Mirra. Cranmer like Hoffman and Mirra has also diversified his business and has used social media to keep himself current and worth investing money in. It is well worth watching his “Paralyzed to BMX Riding in 10 Months” video; the link is below.
Cranmer is also sponsored by Monster Energy and Vans, both of whom are regarded as some of the more significant paying sponsors in action sports. Nike was seen as one of these big payday sponsors for riders but recently let go of their entire European team which included big hitters such as Kriss Kyle and Simone Barraco. This would seem to imply that they see less commercial sense in a BMX team.
Nike BMX team wage
You might be thinking though that that team was stacked and those guys will all find new sponsors. The problem is though as the number of companies that sponsor people drops, so too does the money that they are willing to pay. There is a high supply of pros and low demand for them so that the market will correct itself. That is a bit of Economics 101.
If we carry on looking at Nike, they still sponsor Garrett Reynolds, Chad Kerley, Dennis Enarson, and Nigel Sylvester. All big names but search for their wealth and they do not appear in any sports wealth guides, and they also have relatively small Wikipedia entries again.
Sylvester has the largest Wikipedia entry of the Nike riders, and this is because he became a face of ghetto BMX to the masses. He was in Forbes “30 under 30” for sport, has appeared in the Daily Mail, and has a list of sponsors outside of the action sports industry including a deal with Beats. He has a story that people love to hear about, and he has used that to make sure he gets paid what he feels he is worth.
Reynolds has also diversified his earning and runs his own company, Fiend. Garrett can be seen as one of the greatest street riders of all time, but again his wealth is not anywhere near the same as what people are making from mainstream sports.
A word of caution
At the beginning of the mid school period of BMX, one of the names coming to the forefront of riding was Garret Byrnes. He even had a signature frame on T1, one of the leaders in the mid school period, indeed he still has a frame with them. In one of his interviews with Dig, he makes a crucial point about money as a professional rider.
When you’re done, you have to figure out your own path. When I stopped riding professionally, my bank account was at zero. Then as an operating engineer, that’s when I started building from there. That’s when I really started my life. There are not many people who can make a career out of it long-term, and there’s rarely a retirement.
Looking at what Garret says, the average wage of a professional BMXer, and the fact that there are a few outliers who push that average way up, you can make money as a BMXer but it might not be a lot, and you will need to diversify or be entrepreneurial if you want to make a rock star wage.