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Can Table Tennis Become a Billion-Dollar Sport?

WTT/Design: Alex Brooks

Table tennis — known to many as ping-pong — is a major underdog when it comes to earning potential.

The International Table Tennis Federation, which includes 226 member associations, launched World Table Tennis in 2020. The commercial entity has a purse of $13 million each year and signed Coca-Cola as its first-ever sponsor last November. 

“Our industry is huge, there are hobby players all over the world who follow the scene,” Steve Dainton, chief executive of the ITTF, told The Straits Times. He added that the sport could someday generate “billions of dollars, and we are really only scraping at the surface with our current business model.”

Ma Long is considered by some  the most famous table tennis player. He won three world championships and, as of March 2020, was worth an estimated $20 million on earnings from both winnings and partnerships.

The average player makes between $3,000 to $35,000 each season, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988. China is holding a table tennis simulation event this week to help players prepare for Tokyo Games.