All anyone can talk about is the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders' salaries. But they used to be worse.

If you've recently binged America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on Netflix, you're probably wondering just how much the cheerleaders get paid. Because despite being members of the most prestigious cheerleading squad, most of the women hold second jobs.

"I would say I'm making…like a Chick-fil-A worker who works full time," says former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kat Puryear in the series, indicating her salary is on par with a service industry worker.

Watch the trailer for America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders here. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix.

The seven-part docuseries — which follows the lives of the most famous cheerleaders in American football — has brought renewed attention to their compensation, a topic that has long been contentious. 

So how much are the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders paid? Here's everything to know about their salaries.

What is America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders about?

America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become a member of this prestigious squad. 

Directed by Emmy Award-winning Greg Whiteley, the series delves into the personal stories of the cheerleaders and their coaches throughout the 2023-24 season. It highlights the intense audition process, the demanding training camps, and the pressures of maintaining peak physical and mental performance.


The series also sheds light on the dual lives many cheerleaders lead. For instance, Kelcey Wetterberg, a first group leader, is a pediatric registered nurse, while rookie Reece Allman works in a flower shop.

Kelcey Wetterberg. Image: Netflix.


How much do the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders get paid?

The pay for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders has been a topic of much discussion and controversy.

Historically, NFL cheerleaders have been underpaid, often earning less than minimum wage. However, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are among the highest-paid in the league. 

"I've heard horror stories of what a typical NFL cheerleader [makes], but I think the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders fall into a new category," director Greg Whiteley told Glamour UK.

"None of them are rich. None of them are getting paid a ton, but it isn’t the same dearth of payment that I think other NFL cheerleaders have to experience."

Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders earn approximately $500 USD ($753 AUD) per game, with $400 per game plus an hourly wage. This is significantly higher than the average NFL cheerleader's pay of around $150 USD ($226 AUD) per game, according to NBC Sports Boston

This game-day pay translates to about $10,000 USD ($15,000 AUD) for a season's worth of games.

Image: Netflix.


In addition to their game-day pay, cheerleaders can earn extra money through public appearances, which pay between $50 to $75 USD ($73 to $113 AUD) per event, the publication reports. These appearances can include school visits, corporate events, and charity functions.

The total annual earnings for a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader can reach up to $75,000 USD ($113,000 AUD), for those who are more experienced or hold senior positions within the squad. 

This figure includes their game-day pay, hourly wages for practices and events, and additional earnings from public appearances.

Netflix viewers were shocked by the low wages, but according to DCC expert Sarah Hepola, the current salary is a vast improvement.

"It's a very far cry from what they paid into the '90s, which was $15 a game. And when I say $15 a game, you're thinking, did she say $15? An hour? And I misheard her? No, $15 a game," Hepola revealed on the No Filter podcast.


"When you consider that you have to put on your makeup, you've got to do your hair, you've got to like, get stretched out. You have to get to the stadium three hours early, and the game itself is three hours long, and then you have to meet with fans. I mean, these are entire days," she continued.

Listen to Sarah Hepola's full interview on Mamamia's No Filter podcast here. Post continues below.

Hepola reveals the pay rate of $15 per game remained well into the '90s before increasing to $50. Then, it increased to $200 per game.

"And then the lawsuits start happening," Hepola said.

"You have to pay them a minimum wage. It's got to work out to an hourly minimum wage based on the Fair Labour Standards Act. Well, I mean, none of the NFL teams were doing that when it came to their cheerleaders. And it kick-started a series of lawsuits beginning in 2013, with the Oakland Raiders, and that was a class action lawsuit that they won. 

"It started to move like a contagion move like a wave over all the professional squads over the next four or five, six years. But it didn't come without consequences. Pushing back about the Pay Issue. Sometimes just made the team itself go this is too much work. Forget it. We're shutting the cheerleaders down. So by advocating for themselves, sometimes the cheerleaders lost their jobs. And it became very tricky."


In 2018, former DC cheerleader Erica Wilkins sued the organisation, claiming that there were times she made less than minimum wage while working as a cheerleader.

Wilkins’ case was settled in 2019 and resulted in increasing the hourly wage from $8 to $12 and the game day rate from $200 to $400 for the cheerleaders.

"The Cowboys should be embarrassed. And there is a thing that the Cowboys say again and again, which is 'Don't tarnish the star'. They love to say that. But they still don't pay the [cheerleaders] a living wage. I believe that they could be pioneers in the industry. It is completely within their ability to do this. They have just dug in their heels in."

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders earn $400 plus an hourly rate per game. Image: Instagram.


Despite being one of the highest-paid cheerleading squads, the pay for Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders is still relatively low compared to other roles within the NFL. For example, NFL water boys earn around $53,000 per year, and mascots make about $25,000 per season, NBC Sports Boston wrote.

"There’s a lot of cynicism around pay for NFL cheerleaders — as it should be. They’re not paid a lot," Charlotte Jones, the Cowboys' chief brand officer and daughter of owner Jerry Jones said in the series.

"But the facts are, they actually don’t come here for the money. They come here for something that’s actually bigger than that to them. They have a passion for dance."

You can watch America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on Netflix now.

Feature image: Netflix.

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