Bowlero and NBC Sports announced in a release today that their increasingly anticipated Bowlero Elite Series will comprise not one, but three separate TV shows in 2019, including telecasts in April, September and December and comprising a combined overall prize fund exceeding $1 million.
The first installment in the invitation-only series, which is open only to those who bowl leagues at centers owned by Bowlero Corp. and to “card-carrying full members of the PBA or the PWBA,” currently is scheduled to air April 9 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network after being taped at Bowlero Romeoville in suburban Chicago on April 2.
The show will provide eight established pro bowlers and eight amateurs the opportunity to compete for a top prize worth more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars, as the April 9 broadcast will feature a first-place prize of $270,000, a second-place prize of $80,000, and a total prize fund exceeding $500,000.
That top prize would be the largest single prize check any bowler on either the PBA Tour or the PWBA Tour has bowled for, eclipsing the $250,000 awarded Mika Koivuniemi for his victory in the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions.
Competing for a shot at the April 9 show’s historic top prize will be four-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte, 2012 PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash, reigning PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson, three-time PBA Tour champion Kyle Troup, and 2015 PBA World Championship winner Gary Faulkner Jr. Additionally, three PWBA Tour standouts also will be competing; they include four-time PWBA champion Danielle McEwan, 2017 PWBA Rookie of the Year Daria Pajak and reigning PWBA Player of the Year Shannon O’Keefe. All received invitations from Bowlero to participate.
The remaining eight bowlers for the April show comprise amateurs chosen to compete based on two factors: skill and personality. Amateurs were provided the opportunity to showcase those attributes for a chance to be selected by submitting a 60- to 90-second video along with an application.
Amateurs selected to bowl the April 9 event are Larry Chiton of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Louis Gonzalez and Alexander Jensen of Chicago; Kara Mangiola of Rochester, N.Y., Wes Soper of Fort Worth, Texas; Tyler Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., who happens to be the brother of PBA Tour champion Kyle Troup and son of PBA Tour legend Guppy; TJ van Gorden of Hamilton, N.J., and Irene Wilson of Pinole, Calif.
Bios for each pro and amateur appear on the website devoted to the Bowlero Elite Series here: https://www.bowlero.com/elite-series.
Bowlero plans two additional shows to air later this year. A September 11 show will air at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, for which competition will take place at Bowlero North Brunswick, formerly Brunswick Zone Carolier. The final BES show will air Dec. 28 a 3 p.m. on NBC, ensuring the finale will provide competitive bowling with coveted network TV exposure just as the PBA Tour is doing with its numerous FOX telecasts this season. Competition for that finale will take place at Bowlero Jupiter in Jupiter, Fla.
All BES shows also will be available through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. The names of the pro and amateur competitors for the September and December shows are yet to be announced, and prize-fund information for those shows also is yet to be specified.
Today’s release about the series indicated that all shows will feature a single-elimination format. For much more detail on format and other specifics about the competition this series will involve, see our recent reporting here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/jason-belmonte-sean-rash-among-pros-invited-to-compete-for-270k-top-prize-in-bowlero-elite-series/.
Given Comcast’s interest in Bowlero through the Atairos investment unit headed by former Comcast CFO Michael J. Angelakis, it is unsurprising that NBC would be Bowlero’s choice of network for the series. Comcast purchased a majority stake in NBCUniversal in Dec. 2009 and, an BJI reported in June 2017, Atairos, a strategic investment firm founded in 2016 that focuses on supporting growth-oriented businesses, subsequently purchased a $1 billion dollar stake in Bowlero. As part of that deal, Bowlmor CEO Tom Shannon maintained his significant investment in the company. Angelakis still serves as a senior advisor to Comcast.
Gary Quinn, Vice President of Programming and Owned Properties for NBC Sports, said in today’s release that, “The combination of professional and amateur Bowlero league bowlers fighting for a $1 million prize pool will create an exciting atmosphere and competition for our viewers.”
Colie Edison, Chief Customer Officer for Bowlero Corp and President of the Bowlero Elite Series, added that, “For the first time ever, some of our best league bowlers and the world’s top professionals will go head-to-head, and unlike most others sports, this is a true opportunity for the amatuers to best the pros, with a tremendous payout at stake on a national stage.”