Every year, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is announced for the entire world to celebrate. It’s a global tradition that started when wealthy Swedish inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Nobel died in 1896. The reading of Nobel’s will shocked the world because he dedicated his colossal fortune to “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”
More than a century later, the Nobel Prize is still considered to be the most prestigious award on the planet. It still distributes equal financial prizes across the five categories outlined in Alfred Nobel’s original will: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.
Here’s a look at what winners have received for their Nobel Prize awards, now that the award is in its 13th decade.
Several categories have already been announced and the Nobel Peace Prize winner will be revealed on Oct. 8.
Because inflation diminishes the buying power of currency over time, you’ll see both the dollar amount that the prize the winner actually received and how much the prize would be worth today when factoring in inflation.
How Much Is the Nobel Prize Amount?
Five years to the day of Alfred Nobel’s death, the first Nobel Prize money amount was awarded at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. Over the past decades, as the list of Nobel Laureates has grown, the Nobel Prize award money has fluctuated from under $20,000 to over $1 million.
In 2016, the Nobel foundation concluded that, along with the gold medal and diploma awarded, a Nobel Prize dollar amount of approximately $1 million dollars should be given to the recipient of the award going forward. The next year in 2017, It was $1 million exactly. Just three years later in 2020, and the prize had already grown by six figures.
Nobel Prize Winner’s List
For their efforts, Nobel prize recipients receive, among other items, a large sum of money that has steadily increased over the decades. Here’s information on the past awards Nobel Prize recipients received and what that sum would be worth today.
Last updated: Oct. 7, 2021
Nobel Prize: 1900s
- Prize amount in 1901: $17,451
- Value in 2021: $561,649.14
In 1903, scientist Marie Curie became the first female Nobel laureate ever — just one of her many firsts. She was also the first female professor at Paris-Sorbonne University, and the first Nobel Prize winner — and only person to this day — to win two Nobel Prizes in two different categories: physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.
Nobel Prize: 1910s
- Prize amount in 1910: $16,285
- Value in 2021: $468,951.43
In 1917, the International Committee of the Red Cross won its first of three Nobel Peace Prizes, more than any other person or organization in history. The Red Cross was honored for its work during World War I, in 1944 during World War II and in 1963 on the 100th anniversary of its founding.
Nobel Prize: 1920s
- Prize amount in 1920: $15,520
- Value in 2021: $212.287.99
Among the most celebrated and consequential scientists in history — and one of history’s most famous Nobel Prize winners — Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921. Einstein, who was honored for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect, left all of his winnings to his former wife and their two sons. He promised them the Nobel Prize money in writing in 1919 — two years before he won.
Nobel Prize: 1930s
- Prize amount in 1930: $20,016
- Value in 2021: $327,887.25
In 1938, the Nansen International Office for Refugees won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work with, among many other groups, Armenians expelled from Turkey. The next year, the Nazis would invade Poland, launching World War II and triggering the greatest refugee crisis in human history.
Nobel Prize: 1940s
- Prize amount in 1940: $16,038
- Value in 2021: $313,390.54
The 1940s is known as the decade with the greatest and most glaring omission in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Mahatma Gandhi, the iconic martyr for human rights and inspiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was nominated four times without winning before he was murdered in 1948.
Take a Look:
Nobel Prize: 1950s
- Prize amount in 1950: $19,016
- Value in 2021: $215,856.85
George C. Marshall planned the D-day invasion of Normandy and ordered that nuclear weapons be dropped on Japan at the behest of President Truman. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953, however, for his work on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.
Nobel Prize: 1960s
- Prize amount in 1960: $26,155
- Value in 2021: $241,727.87
Four years before his assassination in 1968, civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. At just 35 years old, the “I Have a Dream” orator was the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history.
Nobel Prize: 1970s
- Prize amount in 1970: $46,294
- Value in 2021: $326,404.91
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — one of many honors the Albanian nun would receive after a half-century of caring for the sick and poor. On Sept. 4, 2016, Pope Francis named her “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” and declared her a Catholic saint.
Nobel Prize: 1980s
- Prize amount in 1980: $101,848
- Value in 2021: $338,134.12
Exiled peace and freedom activist Tenzin Gyatso, known as the 14th Dalai Lama, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his peaceful opposition to China’s occupation of Tibet. The Nobel Committee conceded that the gesture was, in part, a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.
Nobel Prize: 1990s
- Prize amount in 1990: $462,947
- Value in 2021: $968,990.22
In 1993, South African civil rights hero Nelson Mandela was awarded half of the year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The other half went to Frederik Willem de Klerk, the white South African president who freed Mandela from prison — where he’d languished as a political prisoner since 1963 — and worked with him to end apartheid.
Nobel Prize: 2000s
- Prize amount in 2000: $1,000,000
- Value in 2021: $1,588,658.54
In 2009, President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize and donated his $1.4 million in prize money to several charities. When former Vice President Al Gore won in 2007 — an honor he shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the prize money went to climate change initiatives.
Nobel Prize: 2010s
- Prize amount in 2010: $1,157,368
- Value in 2021: $1,452,001.74
In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to Robert G. Edwards, who developed in vitro fertilization. Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, was previously imprisoned a number of times for speaking out against political oppression in China.
Nobel Prize: 2020s
- Prize amount in 2020: $1,157,368
- Value in 2021: 1,208,677.20
In 2020, the award for winning a Nobel Prize was 10 million Swedish kronor — but that year, a whole lot of people were sharing. Louise Glück won the award for literature and the World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the victories in every other category were combined efforts.
Three scientists won in the category of physics, two in chemistry, three in physiology or medicine and two in economics.
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