Do the people on reality shows get paid?This is kind of a silly topic, I realize. I was recently sick for about a week and spent way too much time home in front of the TV. I understand that...

Do the people on reality shows get paid?This is kind of a silly topic, I realize. I was recently sick for about a week and spent way too much time home in front of the TV. I understand that regular "stars" of so-called Reality TV get paid. What about the "visitors" to these shows? I guess I am really just wondering what would ever possess someone to allow a camera crew to film house hunting, visiting a pawn shop, and all the other things these people do.
Expert Answers
wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree with pohnpei397.  While almost all show participants are being paid, the amount will vary from show to show.  Reality shows that feature a main set of people will pay more to that main group.  People who appear briefly on this type of show will be paid but certainly not very much.  Shows like Pawn Shop might pay a little to customers but I doubt they pay much (if anything).  The customers are certainly aware they are being filmed and they likely have to sign a release form.  The reason people do this is simple.  They want to be on TV.  Some of the shows with more main characters might have guests that hope to spin a career in TV or become famous from the show.  Smaller appearances like Pawn Star probably feature people that just want to be on TV or think it might be fun to participate.  Many people just enjoy the attention.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think they get paid not so much in cash but in "freebies," as others have already indicated. Their expenses are taken care of. Some searching around on Google concerning this topic turned up articles indicating that a surprising number of participants have committed suicide over the years.

Here are two relevant articles, one of which is fairly dated:


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are reality shows and reality shows, right?  From what I've read, the ones on the competition-type shows only get paid token amounts.  I think they're in it for the chance at a big payday as well as for narcissistic reasons.  But even that varies, with the big ones like Dancing with the Stars paying up to 6 figures.  Then you've got your Kardashian-type shows and those people, obviously, are getting paid.

So I think that it varies widely as to pay.  As to reason... lots of exhibionistic people out there, I guess.

Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator
They do get paid. The amount they get paid varies. I've heard a few celebrities declining reality TV show offers because they didn't think the money offered was adequate compensation for making themselves and their families so vulnerable. A number of reality show stars have walked out mid-season for similar reasons. In particular, I know that a few women from the "Real Housewives" series have left because the shows were messing up their personal lives so much they decided the money wasn't worth it.
Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My favorite reality show is Survivor.  It is a well known fact that the winner gets paid a million dollars.  It took me a while to figure out, but the rest of the people get paid as well.  The payout is never predetermined and is ever changing for the rest of the contestants, but second place gets paid in six figures.  Some conjecture that the contestants get paid a minimum of around a couple thousand dollars a day.  Basically, the better you do, the more money you make.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As mentioned above reality shows differ in terms of payment, but we need to have a slightly different view of payment, because some people do reality shows for what they will gain in the future. They can make money on endorsements. This can be enormous. Or they use the reality shows to launch a career in the media.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yep, most of them get paid. Even if the cash amount is not great, most reality contestants receive free airfare, housing and food. According to one potential Wife Swap contestant, she was offered $20,000 to appear. Big Brother pays its participants about $900 weekly, according to another source.

atyourservice | Student

Most of them get paid, and even if they don't they usually get free things due to being on the show. For example on the show The world strictest parents, the "bad" teenagers don't get paid to appear on tv but instead they get a free plane ride and boarding.

udonbutterfly | Student

Yeah they get paid in exposure and 15 minutes of fame. Sometimes producers even throw in a little cash to compensate their time which varies from show to show and the popularity the show has. However most of the time reality stars are in it for the exposure so they can host events and make appearances for money. I have hear many reality stars such as participants who feature on shows like Bad girls club say they were only there for the free vacation.

tyler-k | Student

Most people in reality shows get paid substantial amounts of money, which is why they allow strangers to invade their lives. With shows like Honey Boo Boo and Teen Mom, the "stars" normally get paid a little in the beginning, and more as the show starts to become popular. In game shows like Big Brother and Survivor, the contestants get paid per episode that they make it to, Basically, the longer they manage to stay on the show, the more money they receive.

wanderista | Student

I believe they would get paid, but in significantly smaller amounts, and most likely in freebies. Some people, however just go on reality shows to just be on television, which to them is payment enough. Their 60 seconds of fame justifies 'free' work on the show.

Just out of curiosity, how would you define a reality show? Are reality shows extended into game shows or talk shows?

loraaa | Student

In fact, I do not know.
 But I think they do not get paid, because their backs on the TV is a benefit to them.
 But maybe only get paid token amounts.