How Much Contestants on 'Survivor' and Other Reality Shows Earn
Survivor is a ratings thoroughbred for CBS, having been a reliable ratings grabber for 18 years. And while it’s well known that the winner takes home a $1 million check, it has been less clear what other players make, if anything.
Now, a former contestant is giving out a few numbers about the reality show and they’re bigger than you might imagine.
Jon Dalton is better known to Survivor fans as Jonny Fairplay, who notoriously fooled viewers and his fellow contestants into thinking his grandmother had died during the show’s “visit from loved ones” episode. In a conversation with TMZ, he talked about compensation.
Dalton says the first person voted off the show, who is there just three days, walks away with $3,500. Jury members, who vote on the ultimate fate of the final three, pocket $40,000. The two runners up earn a hefty $110,000 and the winner takes home $1,010,000.
The discussion came amidst a mini-tempest about an upcoming Survivor season, where two future contestants posted an Instagram picture of themselves together, raising questions about whether they violated the show’s strict NDA. (Alliances and romances on the show are often dramatic high points. By posting the picture, Alex Merlino and Kara Kay, who will appear on the show’s 37th season, hinted they were a couple in some form. They reportedly could face fines of up to $5 million.)
Survivor, of course, isn’t the only show that pays contestants. Stars of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are paid $100,000, according to some reports, with some making much more. And the top 24 American Idol hopefuls collect a performance fee of $1,571 plus meals for two-hour Idol shows, They make $1,303 for one-hour shows and $910 for half-hour results shows, after they join the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The 12 who go on tour after the show earn an extra $150,000.
Reality stars make far less than established TV figures (such as Judge Judy, who earns $47 million per year), but often parlay that screen time to other projects (including White House positions) or speaking engagements.