Most Big Brother fans know that the winner gets $500,000 and the runner-up gets $50,000. But they may not know that the contestants get paid just to be on the show. Here’s a rundown of how much money they make and how all-stars sweetened the deal this summer.
There Is a Weekly Stipend That Has Changed Over the Years
Back in 2007, the Today Show confirmed that the weekly stipend for Big Brother contestants was $750. So a person who played the whole summer (because they keep getting paid in the jury house) would make around $9000 altogether. Then there are, of course, the opportunities along the way to win extra money — there are usually a few competitions where contestants can choose $5000 or $10,000 prizes (they usually have to give up safety or the Power of Veto to do so). There is also America’s Favorite Player, who gets $25,000.
And one year, the game had “America’s Player,” a person taking instructions from the audience. That was Eric Stein during Big Brother 8. He earned $10,000 for every five tasks he did; his 20 tasks completed earned him $40,000. Durig Big Brother 10, Dan Gheesling was briefly America’s Player and earned $20,000 for doing that for a week.
So, $750 used to be the stipend, but in recent years, that has been upped to $1000 per week. Big Brother 19 was the first year that live-feed watchers heard that number quoted. There was also the rumor that returning player Paul Abrahamian was making $2000 per week, but no one could substantiate that, it was just speculation from the fellow houseguests.
However, it would make sense — Big Brother has always shelled out more for returning players because popular returning players know they can command a higher price.
Today reported that for the first all-stars season, the stipend was $4000 per week, so the all-stars who made it to the jury house earned over $40,000 for that season.
All-Stars 2 Got a Flat Fee
Every returnee for All-Stars gets a $40,000 stipend for walking through the door. If I get a call and they’re like, “We are taking the stipend away and you need to pay us $40,” I’d be like, “Do you take Venmo????”
— Andy Herren (@AndyHerren) June 12, 2020
According to Big Brother 15 winner Andy Herren, the all-stars playing this year earned a flat $40,000 to appear on the show, which is pretty sweet — especially for non-jury members. So in order to keep everyone’s heads in the game and wanting to make it to the jury house, Memphis said on the live feeds that once they were on the jury, they started earning $2000 per week on top of the flat fee.
So anyone who made it to the jury will walk away with approximately $52,000 for appearing on the show — six weeks of being on the jury is $12,000 plus the $40,000 flat fee. Cody Calafiore and Nicole Franzel have also talked about how the winner and runner-up will receive their appearance fees on top of their prize money, which makes sense — if they didn’t do that, the jury members would make more money than the runner-up. In past years, however, that has not been the case — the winner and runner-up don’t get their stipend on top of their prize money.
All of this makes a lot of sense when you think about it. The contestants can’t work while they’re on the show and in fact, many have to quit their jobs because they’re going to be gone for so long. So Big Brother has to make it worth their while.
Other Reality Shows Do the Same Thing
Survivor pays its contestants on a sliding scale based on how long they’re out there. According to ABC News, during the first season, runner-up Kelly Wiglesworth earned $100,000, third place Rudy Boesch earned $85,000, fourth place Sue Hawk got $70,000, eighth place Jenna Lewis earned $27,500, and Sonja Christopher, the first person voted (ever), took home $2500.
The Challenge on MTV works more like Big Brother. Newbies get $1000 per week that they’re there, while veterans can command anywhere from $3000 to $5000 per week, which means some of the biggest names who last a long time can earn nearly $80,000, according to US Weekly.