Sarah Palin’s family has already seen two big paydays from their participation in reality television shows, and they’re about to add a third. The BIO Channel (currently airing four primetime hours of programming about American criminals) has signed Bristol Palin for ten episodes of a half-hour show chronicling her move to Los Angeles to room with her fellow Dancing with the Stars finalist and Disney star Kyle Massey and his brother Christopher.
Here’s what the Palins have raked in so far:
Sarah Palin’s Alaska, $2 million: TLC paid Palin $250,000 per episode for eight episodes of her nature-adjacent reality show, below the $1-$1.5 million per episode rate Palin was apparently looking for when she started shopping the program. When Sarah Palin’s Alaska premiered strong, the former Governor reportedly pursued a contract renewal that would have brought her up to the $1 million level. But after ratings declined significantly, and the show’s hunting scenes sparked controversy, TLC declined to renew it.
Dancing With the Stars, at least $365,000: Networks are loath to confirm reality show salaries publicly, but in 2009, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson’s contract with the show was leaked, providing a sense of the DWTS salary structure, which paid participants a base rate of $125,000 no matter how far they make it in the competition, and an escalating per-week rate as they survive elimination. Under the terms of that contract, Bristol Palin earned at least $365,000 for making the finals, and could have made more if the terms of the contract have been renegotiated more favorably since then.
Dan Silberman, BIO’s Vice President for Publicity, told ThinkProgress by email that the company won’t release details about Palin’s new salary. “It is a company policy that we do not disclose financial matters,” he said.
Bristol Palin’s reality salary is hard to calculate: she’ll come into her new show more famous and with more of a track record than people like the cast of the Real Housewives franchise, who make roughly $30,000 per episode, but not as famous as someone like Ozzy Osbourne, whose family started out their reality series with salaries of $5,000 per episode when the genre was still fairly new and ended up banking $1 million a pop. But a conservative estimate might put Bristol Palin at $50,000 per episode, the same as what Donald Trump made during his first two seasons with The Apprentice, bringing her $500,000 for the whole run of the show.
If our estimate is accurate, that would bring the Palin’s collective income from reality television alone to nearly $3 million since September 2010.