Do the stars of 'The Bachelor' franchise get paid? Ex-contestants don't paint a rosy picture

Many competitors go on to have careers as celebrities, while others struggle to repay the debts they incurred for their few minutes of fame


                            Do the stars of 'The Bachelor' franchise get paid? Ex-contestants don't paint a rosy picture
(L-R) Gabby Windey, Rachel Recchia and Clayton Echard (Instagram/bacheloretteabc/bachelorabc)
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While love is free, becoming a Bachelor Nation participant is not. If you've been a fan of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' for a long time, you might be wondering how much the participants are paid every episode or season.

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'The Bachelor' premiered in 2002, and 'The Bachelorette' began in 2003. There has been a myriad of Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants throughout the years. As viewers are aware, many 'Bachelor' franchise competitors go on to have careers as authors, podcast hosts, and Instagram influencers following their time on the show — even if they don't come out on top or become the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Even if a contestant does not find love, they do not walk away empty-handed. Let us explain.

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With millions of Social media followers, the 'Bachelor' and 'Bachelorette' candidates can easily switch professions, regardless of what they were doing previously. While some return to their previous occupations, many begin new careers as reality TV celebrities, which sure pay better. Of course, this depends on when a participant was eliminated and whether they were a fan favorite for their season, but even baddies have made a career out of the franchise. So, how much money do Bachelor and Bachelorette candidates make?

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Fans may be surprised to learn that the participants are not compensated. Yeah. They make nothing. If that isn't enough, competitors must pay for their own style (those rose ceremony coats and outfits aren't cheap!), which is why many contestants leave 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' in considerable debt. “I know that there are women in the past who cashed out their 401(k)s for the show,” TV blogger Dana Weiss told Mic in 2016. “Some have gone into serious credit card debt.” Not to add that some contestants abandon their jobs to star in the reality TV show.

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How much do participants on 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' spend?

While the stars of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' are said to receive a sizable payment — not to mention a prospective life-mate — the show's candidates receive their 15 minutes of fame but no monetary reward. As per Reality Steve, recent leads earn a minimum of $100,000, with the possibility of making more. Season 8 Bachelorette Emily Maynard, for instance, reportedly made $250,000 after negotiating with ABC. Nevertheless, 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' were not always cash cows. Amy Kaufman's 2018 book, 'Bachelor Nation,' reveals that Season 2 Bachelorette Meredith Phillips earned only $10,000 for her time on the show.

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According to multiple reports, participants in the ABC reality series are not compensated, and some have gone to tremendous financial lengths to participate in the show. Several sources claim that women on 'The Bachelor' spend four times as much as males on 'The Bachelorette,' which makes sense given that many Bachelorette contenders wear the same suits (or share) and don't spend as much on hair and cosmetics. Women on 'The Bachelor' have been known to spend a ton of money. Contestants are given an elaborate "packing list" containing just about every form of clothing for every type of weather before arriving at the house on night one. They are on their own when it comes to wardrobe, unlike the lead, who has a personal stylist and pricey designer apparel for every rose-giving occasion. And some people have gone over and beyond to make sure their on-camera debut is flawless.

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Jillian Harris, a former Bachelorette, can vouch for this. She revealed that when she was fighting for Jason Mesnick's heart in Season 13, she spent a lot of money on her outfit. “The girls do have to bring all of their own clothing and of course, they want to be wearing the best clothes EVER to be seen on TV,” she said on her blog in 2016. “I had re-mortgaged my house and I spent something like $8,000 on clothing.”

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Jillian is not alone. Olivia Caridi, a former Bachelor candidate, may have similarly spent a lot of money on her outfit. Contestant Amanda Stanton was caught discussing Olivia's costly outfits in a video from Ben Higgins' season. During Season 20 of 'The Bachelor,' Amanda alleged that Olivia spent $40,000 on outfits for the show, albeit that figure was not confirmed. “[She] said she spent, like, $40,000 on clothes,” Amanda remarked.

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Bekah Martinez, a candidate on 'The Bachelor' Season 22, wrote in an essay for Glamour in 2018 that she spent big bucks and ended up returning most of it after being eliminated. “Spending money was a little scary because I basically quit my nanny job to go on the show,” she said. “I didn’t realize how difficult it would be coming back. I had six weeks of not working, and then on top of that, I didn’t get paid at all for being on the show. Plus, I took out expenses in preparation and then had to pay rent and bills while I was gone. I was definitely pretty broke when I got home.”

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While it's tempting to get caught up in the dream, competitors must think about their real lives back home while the show is being filmed. Remember the concepts of rent and bills? Yes, even when you're touring the world looking for love, those expenses add up. Courtney Robertson, the Season 16 winner of 'The Bachelor,' disclosed in her book, 'I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends,' that she had to save enough funds to cover a few months' worth of bills and rent just in case she made it all the way to the finish and had her sister take over offering to pay her expenses while she was gone.

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While many contestants' expenses are recouped thanks to their popularity and newfound TV professions, there are still many who are eliminated on night one or night two, who may have left their jobs or spent a fortune only to receive a few minutes of air time. To summarize, the 'Bachelor' franchise is an investment that could go either way.


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How much do the Bachelor and Bachelorette get paid?

The current normal fee for Bachelors and Bachelorettes, as per Reality Steve, is $100,000. Though we can't be certain, we can assume that several of our recent favorite leads (Rachel Lindsay, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and Ben Higgins) earned roughly $100,000 each for their seasons, which isn't terrible for two months of effort. Jason Tartick, a Season 14 Bachelorette competitor, stated on a podcast in May 2021 that he and his castmates, Blake Horstmann and Colton Underwod, were all offered $100,000 to be 'The Bachelor.' Even while most Bachelors and Bachelorettes now earn at least $100,000, this wasn't always the case. Dean Unglert, a Season 12 participant on 'The Bachelorette,' said in a previous interview that he was offered $75,000 to be the Bachelor. Besides, like with other professions, certain Bachelors and Bachelorettes have been able to negotiate a higher pay than their counterparts. Some also earned less than the minimum wage. 

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'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' can be seen on Hulu. The next season of 'The Bachelorette,' starring Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia, will premiere on ABC on July 11, 2022, at 8 pm.

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