Hard work pays and the Norwegian Chess grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen A.K.A. DrNykterstein, is living proof. He is, as of 2021, the greatest chess player in the world. The young and vibrant multimillionaire has become an icon in the world of sports and continues to earn massively from his sporting career and other equally lucrative ventures. His net worth is estimated to be about $8 million. The world’s number one in the game of chess, he became a Grandmaster at the age of 13, becoming one of the youngest persons to hold the title.
How Did Magnus Carlsen’s Career Begin?
Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen began his journey into the world of Chess at the age of 5 with his father as both his teacher and mentor. His father, Henrik Albert Carlsen, was an amateur chess player at the time and an IT Consultant by profession. Young Carlsen was not initially interested in the game but as time passed, he began to give it a try and practiced by playing by himself. He revealed in 2010 that among the things that first motivated him at this stage was his desire to win his elder sister in the game.
Carlsen exhibited a very strong and exceptional intellectual ability by the time he was 2 and this seemed to be an added advantage to his career advancement. He read books on chess and put whatever information he gathered into practice during his free time. At the age of 8, he made his chess tournament debut at the 1999 Norwegian Chess Championship (youngest division). He had an impressive score of 6½/11.
The young star’s impressive performance at the tournament attracted public attention to him and he was enrolled in professional training at the Norwegian College of Elite Sport. He was coached by Norway’s chess grandmaster, Simen Agdestein. It was through Agdestein that he met Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, a former junior chess champion, and later became both an International Master and Grand Master. Carlsen’s acquaintance with Ringdal helped to boost his confidence and enabled him to dream bigger.
Magnus Carlsen’s breakthrough moment was in September 2000 during the Norwegian junior teams’ championship where he scored 3½/5 against the country’s top players in the category. His performance rating skyrocketed from 904 (in June 2000) to about 2000 after the tournament. Carlsen played about 300 blitz and rated tournaments between 2000 and 2002 and has since then remained a force to be reckoned with in the game of chess.
How Much Is The Chess Star Worth?
Magnus Carlsen’s net worth is currently estimated at around $8 million. Although a greater portion of his income comes from his chess career, there are also various other legitimate ways through which he makes money and one of these is endorsement deals. As a result of his successful career, the chess grandmaster has an intimidating profile when it comes to sponsorship deals and they have all translated to more money in his bank account. Find out more about them below.
A huge part of Carlsen’s millions were made from being a professional chess player. Every game won has a cash prize attached to it and Carlsen has won numerous games and tournaments to become the millionaire that he is today. The prize money for a chess tournament can be as much as $1 million. This money is usually split between the winner and the player next in line.
Carlsen is speculated to earn close to $1 million yearly in prize money from titles won. In 2018 alone, he earned an estimated $625,100 when he beat the then second-highest-paid chess player, Fabiano Caruana, during the Chess World Championship in London. He went home with a similar amount in 2016 when he won Russia’s Sergey Karjakin to retain his title in New York. Meanwhile, for his 2014 title defense win against India’s Vishy Anand, Carlsen went home with about $400,000. Also, for the years 2015 and 2017, he garnered an estimated $245,000 from Grand Chess Tour.
Earnings From Sponsorships and Ambassadorial Deals
As initially stated, Carlsen’s income is not limited to his chess career. He also earns a lot of money from sponsorships and ambassadorial deals. It is speculated that he actually earns an estimated $2 million annually from paid appearances and other deals. Here are some of his sponsors and partners:
1. Fashion Brand G-Star Raw
DrNykterstein is not all chess, he is good at other non-sporty stuff too. He is a model and has at some point been regarded as the sexiest man in the world by his fans. At the age of 19, he signed a modeling contract with a Dutch Fashion Company known as G-Star Raw for an advertising campaign alongside actress Liv Tyler. In line with the contract, G-Star organized and promoted a chess match between Magnus Carlsen and an online team of global chess players on September 10, 2010; he emerged the winner.
On the 14th, he made his runway debut for G-Star, walking in the front row of the company’s fashion show alongside Tyler as it unveiled its new clothing line. He made another appearance in G-Star Raw’s Spring/Summer campaign in February 2014 alongside Lily Cole, an actress, and model. Thanks to this deal, the chess star became more fashion-conscious. According to him, prior to working with G-Star, he would just make an effort to dress “more or less decent,” he told The New York Times. But following his association with the fashion company, he is now a little more aware of how he looks.
Speaking on the company’s decision to collaborate with Carlsen, G-Star’s chief marketing officer, Joris Aperghis, acknowledged that the idea of using the chess guru was odd but that’s the point. He explained that among the core idea of G-Star as a brand is the idea of “surprising and contrasting combinations.” On his own part, Magnus Carlsen described the moment the fashion company approached him about representing its brand as “crazy.” According to him, he had not really imagined that that would be possible. He further stated that he hardly knew anything about the clothes and if he owned any clothing from the brand “it would probably have been an accident.”
At the time of Carlsen’s contract, G-Star was worth an estimated 700 million euros, however, the money worth of his contract with the fashion firm was not disclosed.
2. Magnus Carlsen Is A Global Brand Ambassador For Skilling
Skilling is a user-friendly Scandinavian-owned fintech company that deals in forex and CFD trading. This is one of Carlsen’s biggest deals yet. The mega-deal entitles him to television publicity, tournament sponsorship, social, video, and digital rights. And for all these benefits, what is required of him is to wear the company’s logo on his sleeve during games and appearances and promote their brand across his social media platforms.
With this deal, Skilling becomes a title partner with Carlsen’s company, Play Magnus. Therefore, the Champions Chess Tour 2021 Tournament 1 (slated to hold from November 22nd to November 30th) will be officially known as the “Skilling Open” and will also be broadcast globally on all Play Magnus platforms. This exclusive online tournament will bring together leading chess players in the world and each player is expected to hashtag #SkillingOpen on their social media channels. Carlsen’s previous Champion Chess Tour attracted about 70 million viewers online which is why Skilling is willing to take a chance on him.
3. Play Magnus AS
Carlsen is a successful entrepreneur and businessman. He seems to knows just where to channel his talent and money. Carlsen founded the Play Magnus AS in October 2013 with a goal to make the world a smarter place through the game of chess and he invested his own money as well as funds from investors into the company. Afterward, the development of the company’s brainchild, Play Magnus, a commercial computer chess mobile app named after Magnus Carlsen, began and judging by how successful the app has become, he seems to be achieving his goal.
Play Magnus is made up of innovative digital brands committed to providing excellent eLearning experiences and entertainment for chess fans across the globe. Their package includes play, study, watch, learn, coach, and compete. Play Magnus was launched for iOS and Android in 2014 and by November 2016, it had recorded about one million downloads. As of December 2017, the software had reached 2.8 million downloads and counting. In 2019, the company acquired chess24.com.
Play Magnus is currently listed on the Merkur Market of the Oslo Stock Exchange. The company is said to have been worth approximately $100 to $120 million during its initial listing. Carlsen made a 60% investment which was worth $13,000 into the company at its infant stage. Now a public company, Carlsen’s share of the company is valued at an estimated $12 million, which is about 9.02% of the company’s shares, while Luxor Capital, an American asset manager, is the company’s largest shareholder with about 10.33% of the company’s shares.
Play Magnus’ platforms include Chessable, chess24, CoChess, and Play Magnus Apps. The group has over 35,000 users paying monthly subscriptions on its platforms and more than 3 million registered users. These numbers amount to a lot of money for Magnus Carlsen and his team. The company has also initiated a professional chess tournament online known as Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, which is a huge success.
Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm on January 31, 2020, Magnus Carlsen announced that he had become the global ambassador of a gambling company known as Unibet, a subsidiary of the Kindred Group. A provider of online casinos, bingo, poker, and sports betting, Unibet has been involved in chess since 2014 when it became the first international betting operator to sponsor the Norway Chess Supertournament and also offer live odds on games.
Carlsen’s announcement came after he signed a sponsorship deal with Unibet which will run from 2020 through 2021. At the press conference, the chess star said that he had desired to work with Unibet for a long time and that he and the company share a lot of similarities. “Unibet and I share a lot of the same values and interests in sports and related stats. We both know that luck is no coincidence…,” Carlsen said.
Following their deal, Unibet debuted a new TV commercial starring Carlsen a day before the press conference but it will not be aired in his home country of Norway as his collaboration with the gambling company is specifically targeted at a global audience.
5. Carlsen Owns Norway’s Largest Chess Club
Magnus Carlsen established a chess company known as Offerspill in Norway in 2019. He is the current chairman of the company, which has grown to be Norway’s largest chess club just within the few years it has been in existence. Meanwhile, the story of the establishment of Offerspill cannot be told without mentioning Unibet. For context, Norway allows only betting monopolies/enterprises owned by its states to sponsor or promote the Norway Chess Supertournament as well as other select chess events.
So, in 2019, Unibet offered a 5-year sponsorship deal worth 5 million euros to the Norwegian Chess Federation. In exchange, the association was supposed to campaign for the opening of the Norwegian market to international betting providers. In support of Unibet, Carlsen established Offerspill in an attempt to influence voting. However, after much debate, the Norwegian Chess Federation turned down Unibet’s offer, and as a result, Magnus Carlsen resigned from being a member of the chess federation (though he still represents his country in international competitions).
Apart from his personal sponsorship contract with Unibet, the gambling company also has an existing deal with Carlsen’s Offerspill chess club, which is said to be worth NOK4 million (US$433,500). Although the deal goes against Norway’s gambling regulations, it is not expected that the Federation will challenge it because it is an international partnership and Carlsen will not promote the gambling company in Norway.
On September 21, 2021, the multinational financial services corporation, Mastercard, proved that it is still very much committed to the world of esports by adding chess to its roster of sports sponsorships. It announced Magnus Carlsen, the highest-paid esports player in 2020, as its latest global brand ambassador. With this deal, Carlsen joined other ambassadors of the company such as Naomi Osaka, Lionel Messi, Dan Carter, and Crystal Dunn.
The Norwegian grandmaster is currently taking the lead in standings for the inaugural Meltwater Champions Chess Tour with 339 points and with his latest deal taking effect immediately, the competition will now also be co-sponsored by Mastercard. Sharing the news of Carlsen’s endorsement on their website, Mastercard explained that together with the chess grandmaster and the Tour, it is curating a lot of priceless experiences and exclusive benefits for cardholders through Priceless.com.
Among these is the Chess Insights from World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen Experience which will give fans an opportunity to “join Carlsen during a live, virtual experience, and listen to him speak about his passion for chess, with Carlsen answering select questions from the live audience throughout the digital experience.” Anyone that takes part in the experience will also be given a premium subscription to chess24.com for one month.
Meanwhile, earlier in his career, Carlsen was sponsored by Arctic Securities, a Norwegian Investment bank, and Simonsen Vogt Wiig, a Norwegian law firm, for the World Chess Championship. He has also been sponsored by Microsoft Norway, a bottled water company known as Isklar, and the Norwegian tabloid newspaper named Verdens Gang (generally known as VG). Carlsen has also been an ambassador for Nordic Semiconductor and just like most of his sponsorship deals, the monetary value of these deals is not known but they were enough to make him wear their badges on his suits and shirts.
Movies and Book Publications
In addition to his full-time chess career, Magnus Carlsen acts, occasionally though. He has appeared in television commercials, TV series, and documentaries. He made his first appearance as an actor in the documentary The Prince of Chess. Afterward, he appeared on the television series Golden Goal and Dagsrevyen. In the same vein, Carlsen also played a voice role on The Simpsons: The Cad and the Hat. He played himself in the 2016 documentary film, Magnus, which centers on his early life, how he became a chess grandmaster at age 13, and his victory at the 2013 FIDE World Chess Championship.
Although the chess champion has authored no book to date, a number of books have been written about him and they include the following:
- Magnus Wins With White
- Magnus Wins With Black, Learn Chess with Magnus
- Smart Moves. Magnus Carlsen: The World’s Best Chess Player
- Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen (Progress in Chess)
- Magnus Force: How Carlsen Beat Kasparov’s Record
- Magnus Kagge Forlag
- Carlsen’s assault on the throne
- “The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match That Made Chess Great Again”
- Magnus Carlsen: 60 Memorable Games by Andrew Soltis.
Magnus Carlsen’s Net Worth Compared To Other Chess Grandmasters
Carlsen remains the world’s number one in chess and has also been a chess Grandmaster since he was 13. The 30 years old is one of the wealthiest and most successful chess players of all time. Here is how his net worth compares to other chess Grandmasters.
Nakamura became a chess star at the age of 15 and the youngest American to become a chess Grandmaster. He is a five-time United States champion and won the 2011 Tata Steel Chess Tournament Group A. Nakamura has represented the United States at 5 Chess Olympiads and won 2 team bronze medals as well as a team gold medal. His net worth is capped at about $50 million which is a lot more than Carlsen’s speculated net worth.
Kasparov began playing chess at the age of 10 and rose to become the youngest undefeated chess champion at the age of 22 in 1985 when he defeated the then reigning champion, Anatoly Karpov. He remained an undisputed champion for several years before an issue with FIDE made him take a break and create an alternative chess governing body. He later returned to professional chess and still had excellent ratings. This Grandmaster is believed to have a net worth of about $5 million, about $3 million short of Carlsen’s net worth.
Polgar is famous for being the most successful woman in chess. She is the only woman to defeat a reigning chess number one player in the world. She has also sent packing eleven world champions in chess. She became a chess Grandmaster at the age of 15 in 1991, breaking the record held by Bobby Fischer. Polgar has a net of approximately $5 million.
Caruana became a chess Grandmaster in 2007 at the age of 14. He won the Italian Chess Championship for the first time in 2007 and defended the title for 3 consecutive years. He also won the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting from 2012 to 2015. This phenomenal chess Grandmaster is worth an estimated $13 million.
Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik
Kramnik is a Chess Olympiad team and individual gold medalist. He was Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006 and World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007. His net worth is $2 million compared to Carlsen’s estimated $8 to $10 million.
Magnus Carlsen’s Career Highlights
- Carlsen is ranked No1 in the world. He won the Chess Grandmaster title in 2003 when he was only 13.
- He has received notable honors and awards in the course of his career. These include six Chess Oscars for the years 2009 to 2013. Chess Oscar is organized by a Russian chess magazine named 64, and it is awarded to the best player of the year as adjudged by various leading chess critics, journalists, and writers all over the world.
- He was awarded “Sportsman of the Year” in 2009 by the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG).
- In 2009 and 2013, VG also awarded him “Name of the Year”.
- He was on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world for the year 2013.
- Carlsen has won the London Chess Classic three times (2009, 2010, and 2012).
- He became a World Champion after beating Viswanathan Anand 6,5 – 3,5 in his hometown during the 2013 World Championship match and has retained the title ever since, having successfully defended it in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
- In 2014, he recorded his peak Elo rating, 2882, which is the highest in chess history.
- Magnus Carlsen was a recipient of the 2011 Peer Gynt Prize, a Norwegian honor prize awarded every year to “a person or institution that has achieved distinction in society”.
- In 2014, he won the World Rapid Championship and World Blitz Championship.
- In 2020, he won the Fair Play Svetozar Gligoric award.
- As of September 2021, Magnus Carlsen is also occupying the number one spot in the FIDE rapid and blitz rating lists with Elo ratings of 2842 and 2892, respectively.