JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville Beach surfing championship sparked controversy after some people were quick to point out that there was a major gender pay gap in the amount of prize money awarded to men and women.
Kayla Durden took home $250 for winning the women's pro division in the Void Pro-Am contest in Jacksonville Beach last month. Cody Thompson received a $1,250 check for placing first in the men's pro division.
Jamie Rich is a Jacksonville business owner and the proud mother of two young girls who love to surf. She said her family often attends local pro competitions such as the VOID Pro-Am.
“It only took one specific contest for me to see such a disparity in the first-place winner for the women and the first place-winner for the men, and how drastically different the prize money was,” Rich said.
She said her girls looked up to the guys and the girls on stage and it was hard for her to explain to them why there was a big difference in the amount of prize money awarded.
"We went home from the contest and a lot of conversation was sparked among our family and just how this is such an issue for women's sports across the board not only in our surf community but across the nation for different sports of all kinds”, Rich said.
Through her statewide publication, Flamingo Magazine, Rich decided to sponsor the upcoming WaveMasters Surf Contest, which is coming to Jacksonville Beach on Oct. 5 and Oct 6. She personally added $5,000 to the women’s cash prize so it will match the men’s.
"That is something super exciting and it’s way more exciting to have them compete for some real dollars than a consolatory check,” said Rich
Void Magazine founding partner Tye Wallace recently made it official on Facebook and on his website that the Void Pro-Am will offer equal prize money in the next Jacksonville Beach surfing competition for men and women in 2020.