A survey of how much money reality contestants earn, from ''Dancing With the Stars'' to ''Survivor''
Dancing With the Stars‘ Shawn Johnson was all over the news last week — and not just because some guy was charged with stalking her. The gymnast’s contract with ABC was leaked online, and it included a breakdown of her surprisingly sweet salary. According to documents obtained by TMZ, if she cha-cha-chas into the winner’s circle, the 17-year-old will pull in $365,000, including $125,000 just for joining the cast, and bonuses of up to $50,000 for each week she survives. (Because Johnson is still a minor, her contract reportedly had to be court-approved and is public record.) ”Everybody [on the show] gets the same,” insists a source close to DWTS. ”It’s an incredibly intense and time-consuming commitment, so I think the salary is fair.” It’s certainly more generous than those of their noncelebrity counterparts. On Survivor, for instance, compensation starts at $2,500 and grows each week, with the winner receiving a $1 million payout. Participants on another CBS reality show, Big Brother, are paid a mere $750-a-week stipend. ”I think it came out to 10 cents an hour,” sniffs BB3‘s Marcellas Reynolds. And The Bachelor‘s hot-tub hoppers could make less. The show only covers contestants’ mortgage or rent payments back home. (That also goes for the Bachelor himself.) Even the cast of The Celebrity Apprentice aren’t necessarily paid like stars. ”It’s not a big fee or anything like that,” admits recent oustee Tom Green. ”I didn’t do it for financial reasons.” Which is exactly the point, says reality show guru Mark Burnett. ”It’s huge exposure. It gives you a key to a door. The question is, once you’ve opened that door, how will you walk through it?” Probably with your hand out. — With additional reporting by Lindsay Soll
Reality Show Salaries
How much more do ballroom dancers make than bachelorettes? A comparison of three series.
Dancing With the Stars
Initial Payout: $125,000
Salary: Between $10,000 and $50,000 per week
Grand Prize: A disco-ball trophy and renewed cultural relevance
Initial Payout: Nada
Salary: $750 per week
Grand Prize: $500,000 and the chance to cohost CBS.com’s House Calls
Initial Payout: Zilch
Salary: Reimbursed housing
Grand Prize: True love! (And a big rock you can hock after the breakup.)