‘Big Brother’: How Much Do Houseguests Get Paid for Being On the Show?

One of the most popular reality shows of all time has been a continuous fan favorite for nearly twenty years. Big Brother was a revolutionary concept when it was introduced, and the show has gone on to spawn several spinoffs and a whole host of popular slang terms.

With the 21st season coming soon, fans are eager to catch up on past seasons of their favorite show and to learn even more about the pop culture phenomenon.

What is the show about?

Celebrity Big Brother
Big Brother: Celebrity Edition | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Based on a popular Dutch TV show, Big Brother has a simple enough premise. The show follows a group of contestants, known as “houseguests,” who live together in a large, custom house. The catch is that they are all under constant surveillance, and are not allowed to communicate with anyone who is not in the house.

Every week, the contestants compete in various challenges in order to get closer to winning the prize at the end of the finish line – a huge cash award of $500,000. 

Big Brother originally premiered in 2000, and from the beginning has been hosted by television personality Julie Chen. The show has been wildly successful and is considered to be a game-changer in the reality show genre.

There have been two spinoffs, Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother: Over the Top – both have gone on to enjoy great success. For nearly 20 years, audiences have tuned in to Big Brother for drama, fun challenges, and humor.

‘Big Brother’ has faced criticism

Although Big Brother has been one of the highest-rated shows of all time during the course of its run, there are people who have taken issue with the format and culture of the show. The nature of the show is that the contestants are on camera 24/7 – which means that literally every interaction and word is subject to being captured on film for the world to see. 

Multiple seasons of the show have faced controversy for contestant behavior, accusations of racist language, homophobic remarks, and even sexual harassment. The show has also not been immune to outright violence – In 2002, a contestant was removed from the house after he made verbal threats to other houseguests, and even held a knife to a contestant’s throat. 

CBS has even issued statements to condemn various incidents that have taken place on the show. All in all, most viewers don’t seem to mind the bouts with controversy and continue to tune in, week after week.

How much do the houseguests get paid?

While the show seems quite spontaneous, and many of the events on the show are unscripted, some things are planned out in advance. Big Brother contestants do receive a salary for their time on the reality show in the form of a weekly stipend.

After all, no one would want to spend an extended period of time in close proximity to strangers for free.

However, exactly how much contestants make is determined by a few different factors – how long they stay on the show, however much their sign-up fee was, and how well they do in the weekly competitions.

Reportedly, the weekly stipend is around $1,000 per contestant, up from the previous weekly salary of $750. Clearly, with thirteen weeks in each season of Big Brother, there’s a lot of cash at stake – and that’s before the big prizes at the end of the season. The grand prize winner gets to take home $500,000, while the houseguest voted as “America’s favorite player” receives a big payday of $25,000. 

Stayed tuned to The Cheat Sheet for the latest updates regarding the all-new season of Big Brother!