reality tv

Exactly how much contestants on I'm a Celeb, MAFS, The Bachelor and more, get paid.

There’s a reality TV show for everyone: Chefs, home renovators, singers, dancers, mango daiquiri enthusiasts, TV watchers, those wanting to starve on an island for months, those wanting to marry a stranger, those wanting to date 25 different people…

Heck, if it wasn’t for common sense and the risk of public humiliation, we’d probably all be on TV.

If you don’t win a big chunk of prize money (or #TrueLove), teeth whitening endorsements and being chased for paparazzi photos that end up on The Daily Mail might not quite cover all the bills… so, how much do reality TV stars get paid? It is… worth it?

Listen to Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, about exactly how much reality stars get paid. Post continues below.

On The Quicky, host Claire Murphy spoke to Rob McKnight from TV Blackbox about how much reality TV stars get paid.

“If we judge it by what the contestants on House Rules get paid, they would get a $500 fee per week and a $500 allowance,” McKnight explained, adding that the details were shared in a case taken to the Workers Compensation Commission.

“[Contestants] don’t have to pay for any meals as all their expenses are covered. But you’ve still got your mortgages, your bills, etc.”

McKnight also shared that reality TV contestants don’t often make money until after the show has aired.

“The reality TV appearance isn’t going to make you your money. What the non-celebrities are hoping for is to find that 15 minutes of fame where they can cash in,” he explained.

“We see Married At First Sight stars doing cameos, which involves paying for a recorded message from them, they might go to nightclubs and get paid for that, they might make $500 for emceeing an event depending on how hot they were within the show. But it’s very few and far between that the ones can actually make a career out of it,” he continued.

“We have seen it with Chrissie Swan, for example. She was on Big Brother and has had a huge career since in television and radio. She was able to transcend being a contestant and become a legitimate personality but that’s not always the case.”

Here’s what we know about the pay rates on other Australian reality shows:

Married at First Sight.

Former Married At First Sight contestant Telv Williams revealed the stars get paid a daily rate of $150, tax-free on the reality show.

A fan of the 34-year-old asked “Did MAFS pay for new outfits each week or the dinner parties or commitment ceremonies?” and it turns out most of the essentials are out the pocket of the contestants.

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“You gotta do all your own hair and makeup. You gotta do your own dress, buy your own clothes… You get paid $150 dollars a day, tax-free. It’s sh**, it’s rubbish… everything is off your own f***ing back,” he responded.

Another former MAFS star, Nasser Sultan, told Now to Love he got $150 a day, but other contestants received more.

“Sarah and a few others, like Davina, got more money,” he revealed. “They got $50 more a day. Basically, the more you did for the show, the more you got.”

 

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Speaking to The Quicky, former contestant Clare Verrall shared that she “lost thousands” while appearing on MAFS.

“The way that season two worked, they told us that we could still go to work, but I worked from home and they didn’t actually allow me to get any work done at all,” she said.

“I lost thousands and actually ended up losing my job because I wasn’t able to hit any sales targets for that month because I wasn’t keeping up. I lost a lot of money by doing the show.”

Lizzie Sobinoff – who has returned to the show after a very unsuccessful 2019 stint – is commanding a much higher pay.

A source told New Idea that the 28-year-old was offered $100,000 to get ‘married’ again.

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“Lizzie was paid a whopping fee of $100,000 for her four-week appearance on the new season, while the rest of the cast received just $150 per day,” they said.

However, Daily Mail reports she would have had to do more than four weeks’ worth of work. According to their calculations, her wedding was filmed on October 17 with the final vows taking place on December 3. A cast reunion also occurred on January 14. This adds up to roughly eight weeks of filming – and is still not bad salary-wise.

Then there are the brand deals. Lizzie’s return to MAFS also coincided with a number of sponsored Instagram posts from brands like Booby Tape, Tribe Skincare, inLuxxe and Sculpt Body Aus. Ka-ching, indeed.

 

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Dancing with the Stars

Thanks to Woman’s Day, we have a rough idea of how much this year’s celebrities were paid on DWTS – and it really varies. According to a source, their salaries “have been slashed this year” due to reduced budgets.

“The producers have worked hard to convince the cast they’re all on roughly the same pay, but the truth is half the cast are on low salaries and the rest… peanuts!” they said.

“Going on reality TV is no longer frowned upon – it’s a career booster and it plays straight into Ten’s cost-cutting game.”

 

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Singer and the daughter of Olivia Newton-John, Chloe Lattanzi, reportedly received $45,000 for her stint on the show, with former Bachelorette, Angie Kent, and comedian and actress, Celia Pacquola, scoring $40,000 each.

Other contestants like Dean Wells, Christian Wilkins, Dami Im, Travis Cloke and Claudia Karvan are speculated to have been paid $15,000 for their dancing efforts.

Although neither The Amazing Race host Beau Ryan and comedian Ed Kavalee (who also appears on Channel 10’s Have You Been Paying Attention?) are believed to have been given appearance fees, the Woman’s Day’s source said they’re both are on “monster retainers” expected to be “$150,000-plus”.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Image: Supplied.
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Woman’s Day reported exactly how much each celebrity got paid to appear on this year's season of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

According to the report, Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby took home more than any other contestant this year, apparently being paid an eye-watering $50,000.

TV presenter Tom Williams and musical theatre star Rhonda Burchmore weren’t too far off, both supposedly being paid $40,000 each.

American gossip guru Perez Hilton, Myf Warhurst and Miguel Maestre are believed to all have been paid the same amount – $30,000.

And Dale Thomas, Tanya Hennessy, Ryan Gallagher and the remaining campmates reportedly took home a reasonable $10,000 each.

It has also previously been reported that Shane Warne was paid $2 million to appear on the show back in 2016.

The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, contestants are reportedly paid $90 a day.

In 2018, a former contestant who chose to remain anonymous confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that the amount was under $100.

"You don't get paid a wage as such, you get given a weekly expense allowance which is under $100 a day. It is below minimum wage," she said.

"'It's ridiculous what you get paid. A lot of the girls were excited to get that amount a week, but I was like are you serious I wouldn't get out of bed for that."

For those who disappoint Osher and don't find love the first time around, the option of flying to Fiji and drinking mango daiquiris in the sun will see them earn about $100-$200 per day, unless you're Alex Nation-level important.

ivan bachelor in paradise
Not Alex Nation level important. Image: Network Ten.
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"Most of us have got full-time jobs so we need money to pay for bills and stuff… it’s enough to get us through the week," avocado murderer Ivan Krslovic told Hit 103.5’s Carly and Seamus.

"We’re sipping cocktails and sitting around in our board shorts, so it’s not too bad."

But according to The Daily Telegraph, the majority of the cast were making up to $500 a day on the show, while former Bachelor winner Alex Nation may have been receiving 10 times more than her fellow contestants on the show.

Yep, that’s $5000 a day to sit around a resort in Fiji.

Gogglebox.

It's the show we all want to be on, but if you're planning on applying for the next season of Gogglebox, don't quit your day job.

Former Gogglebox star Yvie Jones told Fox FM that she would like the cast of the show to unionise to protect them from exploitation.

"Well, they don’t pay a talent fee," Yvie revealed, when asked how much the stars are paid.

"You’re not employed. The house gets a location fee and that has to be whoever owns the house gets a fee. Our landlord would get the fee and she would have to forward it to us if she wanted to.

"It would be happening in all the rentals. This is how bad it was in the beginning, the first season, per day, per house we’d get $250 a day."

angie and yvie
Oh. Image: Channel Ten.
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The stars, or their landlords, are now much better compensated, but it's still not much according to Yvie.

"Now they get a location fee that is a lot more, but it’s still nothing. Everyone on Gogglebox is doing it for the love.

"They really do love what they do. There needs to be a union I think, in this kind of TV, observation documentaries, we’re not employed so we don’t have a union."

Australian Survivor.

Um, it turns out you'd be better compensated walking down the aisle to marry a stranger and throwing fruit bowls at dinner parties than you would be battling it out on Survivor.

Season three contestant Lee Carseldine told Mamamia the money they were paid was just as pitiful as the food and shelter provided (of which there was... practically none ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

lee survivor
Image: Channel 10.

"We only get paid $90 a day," Lee explained. "So apart from trying to win it (and take home $500K) you aren’t doing it for the money. It’s a whole lot of hurt for not a lot gained if you don’t win."

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You’re basically being paid less than $100 to be wet, cold and hungry.

The Block.

If any reality TV contestants deserve to be paid well, it's The Block stars.

Unlike other shows, which involve lounging around a pool or watching TV on your couch, The Block requires months of renovating an entire house while sleep-deprived and strapped for cash and no, thank you. Plus if your auction doesn't go well, you can be left with nothing at the end. That shit is cruel.

The contestants are paid living expenses during filming, but according to The Block Sky High contestants Bec and George, this is barely enough to cover bills and food.

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How we feel about The Block stars getting paid... not much. Image: Nine.

In 2014, the weekly payment was reported to be $700 per week. The ABC reported that some earned the equivalent of $7 per hour. And 2016 stars Andy Sunderland and Ben Toyne said the payments were only given during filming, not while the show was in post-production or airing.

We'll pass.

Big Brother.

Michael Bric, known as John or Jono during his time in the 2006 Big Brother house, didn't manage to score the $1 million prize money, but was pretty happy with his weekly retainer.

"It sort of varied from $1000-$2000," he told Matt and Meshel. "For me at that stage, as a 20-year-old, I was loving every cent I could get... I definitely wasn't complaining about it."

My Kitchen Rules.

According to an 'unnamed source' who spoke to the Courier-Mail, contestants on My Kitchen Rules received $1000 a week, but considering how much they need to cook, because... cooking show, this didn't go very far.

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"It's hard. We were spending up to $600 a week on food because you're encouraged to cook as much as possible," they said.

MasterChef.

Even if we could cook anything requiring more skill than a lasagne, the weekly allowance handed to MasterChef contestants is... not that enticing.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, contestants on the 2013 season received a $630 allowance each week on top of having their food and accommodation expenses covered.

The Apprentice.

Now, this is a throwback.

Wedding venue director Mary-Anne was isolated from the outside world for nine weeks while filming The Apprentice in 2009, and said she clocked numerous 10 or 12-hour days.

what are reality tv contestants paid
Mary-Anne. Image: Facebook.

In exchange, she told Matt and Meshel, she too was paid just $500 a week.

"I did it at the time because it would be a great experience, because obviously it was all based around business and I had my own businesses, so I thought it was a great opportunity," she said.

"But in reality, it is a reality show. So it's all scripted, it's all actors that are there - not paying customers - that you're serving. It really left me quite jaded by the end."

Feature Image: @angiekent_ and @lizalizzieelizabeth/ Instagram.

This article was originally posted on October 14, 2019, and was updated on March 9, 2020.

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