She didn’t elaborate on how much (or how little) ANTM models are paid, but most reality TV competitors don’t make a lot of up front — it’s meant to be a launchpad for making more money thanks to your exposure from the show.
In a Q&A with TV writer Tom Jicha of the Sun Sentinel, one reader asked, "Are the contestants on The Amazing Race, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, etc. paid to appear? They can't be away from their jobs and not get some compensation. I mean other than the top prize."
Tom answered, "As you suspect, contestants on the competition reality shows get honorariums to cover living expenses while they are away from their jobs. The producers aren't eager to disclose what they are for the same reason most employers aren't. It only creates bad feelings if the amounts vary from person to person, show to show. From what I've been able to find out, about $1,000 a week is the norm. Dancing With the Stars is an exception. Because these people are professional performers, they command salaries that could exceed $250,000, depending on how long they last and their star power."
According to Season 5 Bachelorette Jillian Harris and her (now ex) chosen one Ed Swiderski, Bachelor/ette contestants (as opposed to the actual Bachelor or Bachelorette) get diddly squat, unless they negotiate for something. Jillian told Us Weekly in 2010, “I think a lot of people don't realize we didn't make any money on the show. He did not make a dollar.” Ed confirmed that, adding, “I made zero dollars. I made $400 going on Ellen, for the record.”
Ed further explained to Wetpaint Entertainment that he had a steady job at Microsoft so it didn’t even occur to him that he probably could’ve asked for some bennies to go on The Bachelorette. "I don’t think the average person is prepared to go through that process,” Ed said. “Typically, the people that go on the programs, any reality shows, I don’t think they realize what kind of opportunities they might have until afterward. In retrospect, we know that we probably would’ve been able to negotiate something."
But like a lot of reality TV stars, once Bachelor/ANTM/Survivor stars leave the show, they tend to pick up endorsements and get paid to make appearances. And, of course, for Top Models, the big prize — even for non-winners — is the “free” modeling exposure that helps win them fans and potential clients. No one ever walks away from reality TV without something, even if it’s just a wake-up call about how not to behave in front of cameras! Catch the next episode of ANTM Cycle 18 Wednesday, May 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.