The object is simple on “Survivor” – play a likeable, yet strong enough game to get to the end and win the $1 million grand prize. Before CBS viewers sit down to watch another installment of the long-running competition series, know that this year’s “Millennials vs. Gen X” finalist likely isn’t the only player raking in a paycheck.
Multiple reports over the years have noted the stars of the CBS program are paid after spending their days on a deserted island fighting for immunity and dealing with the elements for the sake of good TV. While it is unclear how much this year’s Season 33 cast is making, MSNBC’s reveal of the inner workings of the “Survivor” pay scale does offer a good idea.
Don’t feel bad for this season’s runner-up. For over a decade, it has been known that the second-place finalist takes home $100,000 with the third-place contestant given $85,000. Even the first person to be voted off reportedly takes home a small consolation prize. Exact amounts for the contestants who don’t place in the finals have not been confirmed.
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Andrew Dehnart of Reality Blurred revealed clauses from the show’s 2010 rulebook which give a better look at what “Survivor”contestants can expect to make on the show. Besides getting their 15 minutes of fame, the contract revealed players are eligible for “consolation cash prizes.”
“Producer may, in its sole discretion, give consolation cash prizes to each Contestant based on each Contestant’s order of elimination (ranging from approximately $2,500 for the first Contestant eliminated from the series to approximately $100,000 for the runner-up to the winner of the Prize), but has no obligation to do so,” a copy of the show’s 9-page contract states.
The contract also reveals that producers may gift consolation prizes to “some or all” contestants at their discretion, but are not obligated to do so. It should come without saying, but players are responsible for paying applicable taxes on their winnings (meaning the first-place winner is actually left with far less than $1M after the government takes it share). Bad luck, Michele Fitzgerald!
Payments for the cast are given out after the show finishes airing but if a contestant quits, they “shall forfeit the right to any prize.” Contestants who breach their contact are also in danger of losing their winnings. “Producer shall have the right to rescind the award of any prize to that Contestant, even if such prize has already been awarded,” reads the document.
Of course, “Survivor” isn’t the only show that pays its cast members for their participation. While CBS’ “Big Brother” gives its first-place winner $500,000 and second-place star $50,000, the show is said to also give its houseguests (and jury members) a generous $750 weekly stipend. In contrast, NBC’s “The Voice” doesn’t pay its contestants, but also gives them a stipend to live off of during production.
“Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” premieres on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS. Familiarize yourself with the cast here before episode 1 airs HERE.