The CrossFit Games is an athletic competition sponsored by Crossfit Inc. The competition has been held every summer since 2007. Athletes at the Games compete in workouts they learn about only hours beforehand, mostly comprising an assortment of standard aerobic, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as surprise elements that are not part of the typical CrossFit regimen such as an ocean swim, a short triathlon, or a softball throw. The Games are styled as a venue for determining the "Fittest on Earth," where competitors should be "ready for anything."
In 2011, the Games adopted an online format for the first stage of the qualification process, called the "CrossFit Open", to facilitate participation by athletes worldwide. Prior to the introduction of the Open, the preponderance of competitors were American (though the 2009 individual men's champion, Mikko Salo, is from Finland, and the 2010 women's runner-up, Annie Thorisdottir, is from Iceland). During the Open, a new workout is released each week on Thursday night and athletes have until Monday evening (Pacific Time) to complete the workout and submit their scores online, with either a video or validation by a CrossFit affiliate. Beginning in 2013, CrossFit began airing live announcements for the Open workouts and would have past CrossFit Games athletes immediately complete the workout in a head-to-head competition. The top CrossFit Open performers in each region advance to the regional events, held over the following two months; the top performers from these regional competitions go to the CrossFit Games, which in recent years have been held at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. The Games include divisions for individuals of each gender, for a number of Masters age groups, and for co-ed teams. Beginning in 2015, there are also two age divisions at the Games for individual Teens: 14-15 and 16-17.
Participation and sponsorship have grown rapidly since the inception of the Games. The prize money awarded to each first-place male and female increased from $500 at the inaugural Games to $275,000 in 2013-2015. The total prize payout in 2015 was $2,000,000. In 2011, 26,000 athletes signed up to compete in the "Open". In 2012-2015, participation was 69,000, 138,000, 209,000, and 273,000 respectively.