Do Contestants Who Don’t Win ‘Survivor’ Still Get Paid?

Loyal fans of CBS’ hit reality TV show, Survivorhave been watching the show develop since 2000.  In case you’re unfamiliar with the premise, contestants head out to a remote location where they’re then responsible for their own food and shelter. At first, they must work on teams to accomplish tasks and win challenges — but they’re eliminated by their own tribe members one by one. As the contestants left on the island dwindle and the tribe eventually merges as one, it becomes a game of social prowess and physical ability for the remaining Survivors to convince the jury — tribe members who were voted off the island — that they are worthy of being awarded the million dollar prize.

It seems like just yesterday when host Jeff Probst was first snuffing torches and handing one contestant a check for $1 million at the end of 39 days in the wilderness. But for all that time and energy spent on the island, are the losing Survivors awarded any money? Here’s how it works.

The winner and two runner-ups are given a massive paycheck

Survivor contestants

Survivor contestants | CBS Survivor via Instagram

ABC News reminds us on the first season of Survivor, there was a massive difference between the first-place winner and the runner-up. The season had two contestants sitting at the end facing the jury — and jury’s choice was between Richard Hatch and Kelly Wiglesworth. Hatch won and was awarded the million dollar prize,and Wiglesworth was awarded $100,000 for second place.

While the producers of Survivor haven’t revealed whether contestants on the show get paid, former contestant Jon Dalton, better known as Jonny Fairplay, has given insight in the past. Typically on later seasons of the show, there are three contestants who face the jury at the end instead of just two. And according to Fortune, Fairplay said the two runner-ups still earn $110,000 while the first-place winner is given $1,010,000.

The other losing contestants are also allegedly awarded money

Jeff reads off the votes on Survivor

Jeff Probst reads off the votes on Survivor. | CBS

If you’re not in the top three, is there still a chance of getting money just for appearing on Survivor? Jonny Fairplay says there is — and the payout is more than you might expect. Fortune explains the former contestant said the first person eliminated on the show still gets $3,500 — and that’s for just making it on the show for three days out of a possible 39.

If you make it far enough to get to the jury, which is about halfway through the competition and occurs once the multiple tribes merge into one, you’ll also get rewarded handsomely according to Fairplay. Fortune notes he said jury members get around $40,000 for their role of observing tribal council and voting for the winner in the end. Not only that, but players voted on to the jury get to stay at “Ponderosa” while the rest of the games plays out. And Ponderosa is a beautiful, large home close to camp that’s fully stocked with food.

Can contestants win more than $1 million? It depends

Sandra Diaz-Twine from Survivor

Sandra Diaz-Twine, the only contestant to win Survivor twice | Sandra Diaz-Twine via Instagram

The ultimate win for a survivor contestant is the $1 million prize — but for some winners, it doesn’t stop there. Certain seasons feature past winners or fan favorites, and they can venture to the wilderness again for their chance at the prize for a second — or sometimes third — time.

So far, there’s only been one contestant to win Survivor twice, and that’s Sandra Diaz-Twine. She won her first season on Season 7, Pearl Islands, and she won next on Season 20, Heroes vs. Villains. 

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