Skip to Content

Reality TV stars who make more than government officials

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder Writer

  • Email

Our nation's leaders carry a heavy weight on their shoulders. They are under intense pressure and scrutiny, charged with making decisions that affect each and every American.

Then there are reality TV stars. Sure, they help Americans in their own special way -- giving viewers a mindless and entertaining escape from life's daily stresses. But there's no way these stars get paid more money to broadcast their lives on national TV than top government officials do to run our country. Right? Wrong. While government leaders do earn high salaries, their paychecks don't compare to the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars that reality TV stars pocket per episode or season.

To see just how big the salary discrepancies are between these two groups, here's a list comparing the earnings of top government leaders and reality TV stars. Of course, any one of the earners on this list may make, or have, more money from additional sources – such as previous businesses, other current ventures or inheritances – but this list focuses solely on the salaries made via their government job or their current reality TV show.

Read on, and get ready to be shocked:

President of the United States: President Barack Obama makes $400,000 a year*, which includes a $50,000 expense allowance. The first U.S. president, George Washington, earned a $25,000 annual salary – a large sum for that time in history.
Reality TV star who earns more: Snooki, JWoww, Mike "The Situation" and the entire cast of "Jersey Shore" reportedly make $100,000 per episode. With an average of 13 episodes per season, they're raking in more than $1 million to drink, swear and generally make fools of themselves.

Vice president of the United States: In 2012, Vice President Joe Biden earned a salary of $230,700.
Reality TV star who earns more: According to the website Celebrity Net Worth, "Bachelor"/"Bachelorette" host Chris Harrison makes $60,000 per episode. There were 12 episodes in the most recent "Bachelorette" season, so that equals a cool $720,000.

Speaker of the House: According to, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, earns an annual salary of $223,500 as the current speaker of the House.
Reality TV star who earns more: It's hard for anyone -- government official or other reality TV star -- to keep up with Kim Kardashian. Kardashian makes $40,000 per episode for her reality TV show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." There are 18 episodes in the 2012 season. Remember: This doesn't include the money she earns from various endorsement deals, product lines and appearances.

Chief justice of the United States: All eyes were on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. after he upheld Obama's health-care reform. In his role as the head of the U.S. federal court system, Roberts makes $223,500 a year.
Reality TV star who earns more: Entertainment news website Radar Online reports that Vicki Gunvalson of "The Real Housewives of Orange County" makes $450,000 a season.

Cabinet officials: The current Cabinet officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, each make $199,700 annually.
Reality TV star who earns more: "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Lisa Vanderpump's famous pup, Giggy, truly lives in the lap of luxury. He can afford to be spoiled, since Vanderpump makes a reported $250,000 a season.

Party leaders of the House and Senate: The House and Senate majority and minority leaders each earn a yearly salary of $193,400.
Reality TV star who earns more: Emily Maynard, the most recent "Bachelorette," was looking for love with the help of an estimated $250,000 paycheck. Who wouldn't be ready and willing to find "the one" for that salary?

*Unless otherwise specified, all U.S. government officials' salaries are from

Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Last Updated: 29/08/2012 - 12:00 PM

Article Reprints
Permission must be obtained from to reprint any of its articles. Please send a request to