‘Fear Factor’ Contestants Were Banned from Running for Office, According to Their Contracts

It’s not easy to make it as an actor in Hollywood so wannabe thespians often take side jobs in the industry to gain some experience and get their names out there. One way potential actors can do that is by going on a reality TV show. Back in the 2000s, one of the most common reality shoes for people looking for fame was Fear Factor, a primetime show on NBC in its original run. While that may have been a good strategy for someone hoping to find success in acting, it wouldn’t have been a good strategy for a potential politician because Fear Factor contestants were banned from running for office.

(L-R) Ray Beyda and Tyler Everett reaching into a tank full of snakes
(L-R) Ray Beyda and Tyler Everett | Robyn Beck/Getty Images

What is Fear Factor?

Fear Factor was a reality show on which contestants tried to face their fears for a chance to win cash. The contestants were tasked with enduring several professional stunts, which tested them both mentally and physically. The worst-performing contestants were eliminated throughout the episode, and the eventual winner took home the $50,000 grand prize. Stunts often involved being high in the air or eating creepy crawlers like worms and live bugs. Before he became an announcer for the UFC and the host of one of the biggest podcasts in the world, Joe Rogan hosted the NBC version of the series, and rapper Ludacris took over as host when MTV revived the show in 2017.

Politicians aren’t welcome

RELATED: ‘Fear Factor’: Joe Rogan Agreed to Do the Show to Boost His Comedy Career

Contestants had to sign a contract before being able to appear on Fear Factor, and as you might expect the contract prohibited the contestants from taking part in certain activities, but some of the prohibitions may surprise you, as described by Screenrant. In fact, a player on Fear Factor was even unable to run for any kind of office for a period following their episode’s original airing. They were unable to run for public office for one year following their episode’s airdate. That means if someone had thoughts about a potential career in politics in the near future, he or she would have had to think twice about appearing on Fear Factor because an appearance on the competition show could have delayed those political aspirations.

Possible reasons for producers putting that clause in contestants’ contracts could include not wanting to appear as though the show was endorsing a particular candidate or being associated with whatever party that contestant was affiliated with. Fear Factor isn’t the only show to have that line of thinking, as other game and reality shows, including The Price Is Right, have similar restrictions on contestants.

Other restrictions on contestants

Running for office wasn’t the only restriction built into contestants’ contracts on Fear Factor. Some were standard across the industry, such as signing a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from discussing the episode before it aired — including in the rare instance of an episode that didn’t air. Contestants also had waived any liability for the network if they were injured while taping the show, which is a bigger concern for a show like Fear Factor than it would be for a show like Jeopardy.

The term reality show can be deceiving by editing the show to make it appear that certain things happen that may not have actually happened. Fear Factor was no different, requiring contestants to be OK with producers telling their own story through editing, whether it makes the contestants look bad or not. Contestants also had to be OK with not just possibly walking away from the show without any prize money but also having to spend money to appear on the show by paying for their own transportation to Los Angeles if they didn’t live there.