When the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams take the field on Sunday for Super Bowl LIII at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, some of the players may be more motivated by the prize money that comes with a Super Bowl title than the glory of winning.
For big-name starters like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, both of whom have multi-million-dollar multiple-year contracts as well as other endorsements, that extra money is likely secondary to the fame and prestige.
But for many players earning far less it's a huge earnings opportunity. KhaDarel Hodge, a 24-year-old wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, takes home the smallest annual average salary on his team, and of all the players likely to be on the field Sunday, according to contract data collected by Spotrac.
His one-year contract with the team earns him $480,000 for the season, the minimum salary a team can pay a rookie active roster player on such a contract, according to the collective bargaining agreement the NFL signed in 2011 with NFL Players Association, which will be in effect until 2020.
Rams outside linebacker Garret Sickels is on a similar $480,000 one-year contract, but as the outside linebacker is not on the active roster, there is no chance he'll make an appearance on the field Sunday.
This means if the Rams come out on top, Hodge's Super Bowl bonus check would equal almost a fourth of his annual wage, as this year's champions will get an extra $118,000 just for winning that one game. The losing team might not be happy with the result but they won't be returning home empty-handed either. Second place still earns players a $59,000 bonus.
Playing on a winning team, even as the lowest-paid player, comes with other perks as well. Winning the divisional round playoff earns each player a $29,000 pay out and winning the Conference Championship to get into the Super Bowl comes with a $54,000 payout.
On the Patriots, 25-year-old defensive end Jonathan Jones is the player who earns the smallest paycheck and who could see action in the Super Bowl. He signed a three-year contract with New England for $1.63 million, making his average annual salary $543,333, according to Spotrac.
Two players earn less than Jones, wide receiver Cody Hollister and fellow wide receiver Riley McCarron. But as both players are listed on the reserve team, neither will see action on Sunday. Hollister's one-year contract amounts to $480,000, while McCarron's average annual salary amounts to $121,600.
Of course, it's hard to feel too bad for any of these lower-earning players — the median household income in the U.S. is $61,372.
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