According to a news analysis by the Smart Politics project of the the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, during former Gov. Sarah Palin’s tenure as a contributor to Fox News—which ended last week with the decision not to renew her contract—Palin was paid $15.85 per word she spoke on the network. Given that Palin and her family are now primarily working as entertainers, rather than as public servants, commercial fishermen, or even spokeswomen for teen pregnancy prevention, it seems worth taking a look at how well that’s working out for the Palins—and the people who’ve employed them.
-$1 million: Sarah Palin’s annual salary as a Fox News analyst.
-189,221: Words Palin spoke on Fox during her three-year contract.
-$1.25 million: Palin’s advance for her memoir Going Rogue.
-469,000: copies of Going Rogue sold in its first week on the market. The memoir would go on to sell 2,670,000 copies in 2009.
-797,955: Copies of America By Heart, Palin’s second book, sold in 2010.
-$100,000: Palin’s speakers’ fee, as negotiated by the Washington Speakers Bureau, as of 2010.
-$200,000: The reported low estimate for Palin’s per-episode fee for Sarah Palin’s Alaska, her TLC show, which ran for a single season. One of the reasons the show ultimately wasn’t renewed? Palin’s salary demands for a second year.
-$15,000-$30,000: Bristol Palin’s range of speaker’s fees, as of 2010.
-$125,000: Bristol Palin’s base salary for her appearance on Dancing With The Stars.
-$354,348: Alaska tax subsidies for Bristol Palin’s reality show, Life’s A Tripp.
-726,000: Number of viewers who tuned in to Life’s A Tripp. Unsurprisingly, Lifetime cancelled the show after two airings.
-5.24 million: The number of viewers who tuned in to the first episode of Stars Earn Stripes, a 2012 NBC reality show in which Todd Palin and other celebrities competed to earn money for charities of their choice. That number fell to 2.88 million by the finale, and the show has yet to be renewed.
From a business perspective, the results are clear. Palin might be a good deal when it comes to book publishing, particularly if bulk sales to conservative book clubs and the like continue to bolster her overall figures. But it’s probably worth keeping an eye on her declining sales figures to peg her advances to. And when it comes to television, be it news analysis, dancing competitions, or getting stuck on the way up Mount McKinley, the Palins aren’t any more than utility players. Hollywood’s notorious for helping to facilitate upward failure. But even the Palins seem to be coming to the end of their chances to prove themselves big draws instead of utility players.