Football coach Vince Lombardi is alleged to have said, "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." There is an enormous emotional high that comes with winning a championship at the highest level, but the amount of money sports leagues spend to reward their champions is nearly as large. Here's a breakdown of how much the major sports trophies in North America are worth.
Super Bowl Trophy: $50,000
The Vince Lombardi Trophy is handed to the National Football League (NFL) champion each year. This sterling-silver Tiffany and Co.-created trophy is nearly two feet tall and shaped like a kick-ready football. It’s created from scratch each year, valued at a reported $50,000, and taking four months to complete. Although the value of the silver used to make the trophy is only worth $1,700. The words "Vince Lombardi Trophy" and the NFL shield are engraved onto the base.
After the Super Bowl, the nearly seven-pound trophy is presented to the winning team, then sent back to Tiffany to be cleaned and engraved with the winning team's name, the date, and the final score of the game. The trophy is then sent back to the winning team for them to keep.
Tiffany & Co. is responsible for the current design of the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA championship trophies.
World Series Trophy: $19,000
The Commissioner's Trophy is awarded to Major League Baseball (MLB)’s top team yearly. Even though there has been a World Series since 1903, the trophy wasn't doled out until 1967. As with the Lombardi Trophy, a new Commissioner's Trophy is created each year.
The current trophy design, also produced by Tiffany, was tweaked a bit in 2000. It’s done in silver and is said to be valued at almost $19,000. It's also two feet tall, weighs around 30 pounds with 30 gold-plated flags—one for each Major League team—grouped around a silver baseball that contains 24-karat gold vermeil stitches.
NBA Trophy: $13,500
The Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy is given to the top National Basketball Association (NBA) team each year. Basketball's biggest prize is named after the man who headed the league for nine years, from 1975 to 1984.
The current silver trophy, also by Tiffany, designed in 1984, weighs 14.5 pounds with a 24-karat gold overlay. It also stands two feet tall, with a nine-inch basketball going through the hoop. Valued at $13,500, the trophy is remade every year, with the winning team keeping that year's version to display in their home court.
- The Stanley Cup is the most valuable trophy among major North American sports, coming in at a reported $650,000. It’s one of the oldest championship trophies around and is not recreated each year.
- The Super Bowl trophy is valued at $50,000, but the silver used to make the seven-pound trophy is only worth $1,700.
- The trophy for the World Series winner is valued at $19,000, while the NBA championship trophy stands at $13,500.
Stanley Cup: $650,000 Plus Travel Costs
Hockey’s championship trophy, the Stanley Cup, is the oldest championship trophy to still be awarded to a professional sports team. In 1892, a former aide of the then-governor-general of Canada, Lord Stanley, bought a punch bowl from a London silversmith for what amounted to $50 (just more than $1,100 today) to reward the top hockey club in Canada. The Cup initially stood about seven inches tall and about a foot in diameter.
Over the years, tiered rings were added to the bottom of the bowl, then long narrow bands, then uneven bands. Because Lord Stanley's mug is one of the few professional sports trophies where the name of every member of the winning team is inscribed (the Grey Cup is another). Hockey Hall of Fame curator Phil Pritchard says engraving costs roughly $1,000 annually. Bands are often retired to make room for new champions.
At nearly three feet high and weighing more than 34 pounds, the current Cup dwarfs the others. Despite its size, it still does a lot of traveling: Each member of the winning team, coaching, training and office staff gets possession of the mug for 24 hours during the offseason. Pritchard says the cost of arranging that depends on where the Cup is going and coming from, but he estimates "around $2,000, which includes transportation, accommodations, etc."
Like other sports, Pritchard also says the players each receive a Stanley Cup ring (which he estimates to cost $30,000 per player) and a mini-version of the Cup, which costs about $1,000 to $1,500 each.
The Bottom Line
What this story cannot convey, of course, is the emotional cost of the tireless effort and commitment that players have to expend to win these trophies. Love of the sport and winning the big prize is something you can't place a dollar value on.