How Much Do Reality TV Stars Get Paid?

Posted by Amanda on September 6, 2011

Reality television covers almost every aspect of life now, from busting the rat infestation in New York City (fittingly named Rat Busters NYC) and Ghost Hunting on International Ground to following the dating lives of sub-celebs. They have even managed to cram cameras into hoarder’s homes to catch a glimpse of what it would be like to live in a dumpster. There are a lot of people, couples, and families who are employed by networks to let the rest of us into their lives for an episode, a season, or until their kids are out of diapers and in high school.

How Much Do Reality TV Stars Make?

People are making livings from reality television; a great example is Megan Hauserman, who has gone on 5 different reality television shows in her 28 years.

How much do reality TV stars get paid? Depending on your notoriety, it looks like you could expect to get paid between $750 per week to $75,000 per episode. Let’s take a look at some of the salaries for these types of shows, and then how to apply to be on them (if you wish).

Reality TV Show Pay Rates

  • Big Brother. I was actually abroad in Spain living with a family when this show was in its finale, and the teenagers in my host family were glued to the television for it. Then when I came home, the show had moved to the United States! This is a television show about a group of people living in a home together that is closed off from the outside world. Because they cannot work while on the show, they receive a weekly stipend of $750. The real money is if they win the prize at the end, which is a grand prize of $500,000, a second place prize of $50,000 and a Viewer’s Choice award of $25,000. You have to be the last one that was not evicted in order to win.
  • Downsized. This show follows the controversial Bruce family as they dig themselves out from a foreclosure and bankruptcy after losing a $1.5 million construction business in Arizona. While the payment has been undisclosed, they were able to pay off all of their debt as well as bank $18,000. Based on the numbers they disclosed to their financial advisor that we were privy to from the first season, I would say they were paid (speculating) $50,000.
  • Princess. The premise here is that Gail Vaz-Oxlade comes in to give a “princess” a financial and responsibility wake-up call at the request of family and friends who are tired of loaning out money and are concerned about their financial state. If the Princess reforms her ways to the liking of Gail, they can earn up to $5,000 at the end of the show. The taping takes place over the course of a month.
  • ‘Til Debt Do Us Part. This is another Gail Vaz-Oxlade show where she takes a couple who is in dire financial straits and attempts to send them on the right path. They must come up with a plan to pay off all of their debts (except mortgage) within 3 years, and less time is always better. They must live more sustainably (i.e. within their means), and sometimes they have to come up with ways to boost their income as they just don’t make enough money. Once again, this couple has the opportunity to earn up to $5,000 at the end of the month if they complete all of the challenges to Gail’s satisfaction.
  • Teen Mom. This is an off-shoot from the show 16 and Pregnant. Several new teenage mothers were given the chance to reveal to everyone the tough issues they face as new parents—this is in-between trying to finish school, deal with immature partners, make money, the realities of adoption, etc. Each of these teenagers reportedly makes between $60,000-$65,000 per season.
  • Dancing With the Stars. On this show stars sign on to become semi-dance experts with the help of professional dancers. Each week they work about 20 hours on a routine, and then the show is based around a competition. A couple (the star and his/her dancing professional) is eliminated once per week. The stars who appear reportedly make $125,000, plus $20,000 bonus for every week they remain; the professional dancers have made from $1600 per episode to $5200 (with the show’s growing popularity).

How to Apply for a Reality TV Show

Interested in becoming the next reality television star? You can apply to be a part of many of these shows. TLC offers casting opportunities to its reality television shows, including What Not to Wear, Extreme Couponing, and Say Yes to the Dress.

You can also receive casting notices for a variety of shows in your email inbox and check out the latest casting calls.

More Reality TV Show Finances

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Comments to How Much Do Reality TV Stars Get Paid?

  1. Those are pretty good “rates” for non-actors!


  2. I don’t know what I think of this. I get why they’re paid so much but at the same time, what are they really doing? Also, what happens when you’re like Megan Hauserman or Kate Gosselin or Rob and Amber and your reality TV allure runs out? What do you do then?

    I think that the only TV show I’d like to be on is CMT’s version of MTV’s Made. The CMT version is for adults and I’d do it without being paid.


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