How much are bullfighters paid?

How much are bullfighters paid?

Spanish bullfighters are known for their bravado and showmanship in the arena, but is their courage enough to line their pockets? 

The answer, of course, depends on a few factors – the matador’s experience level and the bullfight location being the two most significant. The majority of Spain’s ~800 bullfighters are not paid enough to make a living off the sport, especially when considering the extreme risk that the bullfight presents. These matadors have to find alternative means to make a living during the off-season.

Another element that reduces novice matadors’ overall income is the payments to their assistants: the two picadores and the three banderilleros who help to weaken and distract the bulls in the arena. Considering that most matadors make anywhere between $1,000 - $10,000 per bullfight, their profit margins are certainly not as high as you’d expect.

For the star matadors, however, sometimes one or two bullfight appearances are enough to cover them for a year. Top bullfighters have been known to charge between $20,000 - $40,000 per bullfight, which is a value that is much more congruent with the risk that they face for our entertainment.

Even so, that money is a pittance in comparison to what the superstars make: The biggest up-and-coming star, 22-year-old Andrés Roca Rey from Peru, is estimated to be making around $350,000 - $400,000 per bullfight. Meanwhile, the most bankable bullfighter in the world, José Tomás, is estimated to make as much as $1,000,000 per bullfight.

Roca Rey, herido en el gemelo derecho en El Puerto de Santa María

Roca Rey in Pamplona after winning two ears as a trophy for his extraordinary bullfight.

There is clearly a spectrum when it comes to the financial success of Spanish matadors, and in Pamplona, you can see it all. On July 5, the novilleros have their fights against the three-year old bulls, while on July 6 you can see the unique bullfighting experience of the rejones as they take on the bulls atop horses. From July 7 until July 14, top matadors from all regions of Spain and beyond will face off against adult bulls from the most renowned ranches in the country. Be sure to book your tickets soon to see the best of the best in Pamplona during the festival of San Fermin!

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