In this article, Silvio Mattacchione discusses the millions of dollars that racing pigeon enthusiasts are willing to spend for the addition of an elite racing pigeon to their loft.
The 21st Century pigeon racing sport includes white-collar, blue-collar, and no-collar workers, millionaires, and incredibly even several billionaires. The competitive pigeon world demands results, and performance on the racecourse and in the breeding pens and that is all that matters! Today the underlying motivation for most serious participants is the potential to garner significant financial returns in global one loft racing events. Success in national and one loft racing opens up possibilities to monetize desirable genetics through strict breeding programs and stud farms.
Fanciers study pedigrees and bloodlines with the same focus and intensity that thoroughbred racing enthusiasts do. They invest in proven performance pigeons from proven performance bloodlines that produce above-average results in one loft races worldwide. These champion pigeons are rare, their numbers are limited and demand is global and the result of this supply and demand imbalance naturally leads to an enormous increase in prices that certain “financially unencumbered” fanciers are prepared to pay at public online auctions
I remember the very first time I heard that a South African group was going to guarantee $ 1 million US in prize money for “The Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race” a one loft race that was open to worldwide entries and thus provided the ultimate competition. The winner of the final race would walk away with a purse of $200,000.00 US. Simply unheard of, and at the time most fanciers thought it impossible to achieve given all of the potential problems including technical, logistical, customs, legal, financial, health, quarantine, transportation, and regulatory, in both the exporting and receiving nations. An incredibly impossible idea never before thought of let alone successfully orchestrated. No one, including this writer, seriously thought that all of the hurdles could be overcome. But overcome they were and that first million-dollar race in 1997/1998 drew 1000 entries. Six years later, that is for the 7th million dollar race the organizers attracted 2,473 entries. It was not easy attracting participants but by the 8th year, the entries totaled 3,703 racing pigeons. However, in 2005 by their 9th race, the million-dollar race attracted an unheard-of number of entries 5,096 (3,711 international entries and 1,385 South African entries) from 30 different countries. These were and are huge numbers.