The contestants on Survivor are expected to go through many grueling physical challenges as they compete to win, which might make viewers wonder: Are they getting paid? Keep reading to learn salary details about how much money the contestants and winner make.
It’s well known that the ultimate winner of the season takes home a $1 million grand prize and the runner-up receives $100,000. However, the other castaways don’t walk away completely empty-handed.
According to former contestant Jonny FairPlay, the first person eliminated receives $2,500 for their time, and the longer someone lasts on the show, the more money they receive upon exiting. In addition, every contestant who participates in the live reunion show finale receives an additional $10,000, NickiSwift and CinemaBlend reported.
That being said, the stars of Survivor are paid on a sliding scale. ABC News reported that during season 1, Rudy Boesch received $85,000 for being the third-place winner while fourth-place contestant Sue Hawk was prized $70,000. Comparatively, Jenna Lewis was eliminated mid-season and walked away with a reported $27,000.
With over 40 seasons of Survivor on CBS, there’s a huge pool of former stars to choose from. The spinoff Survivor: Winners at War earns the returning champs and contestants the opportunity to earn even more money. In addition to competing for a $2 million grand prize, the contestants are reportedly offered around $35,000 to return for the reunion.
While someone can earn a pretty sweet paycheck, Survivor is definitely considered one of the toughest reality shows to appear on.
Benjamin “Coach” Wade, who previously appeared on seasons 18, 20 and 23, admitted he “thought he was ready” to compete, but Survivor proved to be much more “real” than he originally thought.
“I had lifted weights, ran for miles, mentally meditated, and as soon as we started the hike from the truck, I knew I was in trouble,” Benjamin recalled to Entertainment Weekly. “The hike took us close to six hours, without water, and 120-degree heat.”
Season 3 contestant Ethan Zohn, who also later appeared on season 8, said he “almost lost it” while competing. “My insides were screaming for food, my brain was mush from lack of sleep, my tongue was puffy from dehydration,” he said about his experience. “This [is] so much harder than I ever imagined in a million years and we are only 78 hours into the game.”