‘Survivor’: This First Person Voted Out Still Gets Paid — But It’s Less Than $3,000

The allure of participating in some of the world’s toughest reality TV show competitions might include the bragging rights of a big win, but the cash certainly doesn’t hurt. There’s a whole range of reality TV show opportunities available to would-be participants, and many come with the potential for a big payout. Of course, we usually only hear about the grand prize for the overall winner of shows that require some kind of elimination, but what about those who don’t make it quite that far? 

For the reality TV series Survivoreven the very first person voted out still gets a paycheck, but it might not be worth the effort . . . or the humiliation

Amber Brkich Mariano, Danni Boatwright, Boston Rob Mariano, Ethan Zohn, Parvati Shallow, Yul Kwon, Wendell Holland and Adam Klein laughing at a tribal council
Amber Brkich Mariano, Danni Boatwright, Boston Rob Mariano, Ethan Zohn, Parvati Shallow, Yul Kwon, Wendell Holland and Adam Klein | CBS via Getty Images

‘Survivor’ is a long-running reality show

It’s hard to believe, but Survivor has been on the air for two decades! Premiering in 2000, the premise of the show was deceptively simple. Sixteen everyday Americans were dropped on a deserted island and divided into two tribes. Every three days, someone was voted off the island. By the end of the 39th day, there was only one person left, and that individual took home a cash prize of $1 million. 

Over the years, there have been different iterations of the game. There have been celebrity appearances as well as tweaks and alterations such as the number of participants who start off on the island. Some versions have pitted past winners against one another in an all-star cast. Through it all, though, the draw for the audience watching at home has remained constant. They get to see people pushed to the extremes in both physical and mental challenges and witness the psychology of alliances formed and promises broken. 

Getting a spot on the ‘Survivor’ is a challenge

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Obviously, the show needs people willing to put themselves through some harrowing challenges in order to create their series, but they don’t seem to have a shortage of those up to the task. According to the eligibility requirements, the creators seek participants at least 18 years old who have valid U.S. Passports and who are strong-willed, adventurous, and “physically and mentally adept,” according to WTOC. Participants also must agree not to run for public office until the entirety of their time on the show has aired. 

They get the promise of a potential $1 million grand prize, but they also agree to a grueling invasion of privacy. Participants are informed that they will be filmed “24 hours a day.” They are also informed that the ruggedness of the situation isn’t just for show. They really will be responsible for finding and creating their own food, shelter, and fire. It is certainly not billed as an easy task. Most people audition for the role by submitting applications that include videos showcasing their survival talents. Some lucky individuals, however, are scouted for the role, but they still have to make it through the rigid review process to make sure they’ll be good candidates. 

Everyone on ‘Survivor’ gets paid

One thing that sets Survivor apart from some other reality shows is that everyone — even the very first person to be eliminated from the competition — receives a paycheck. Obviously, the $1 million grand prize is what draws so many participants to apply, but those who manage to stick around will still get pretty nice paydays. According to Screenrant, the player who makes it into the third-place spot takes home $85,000. Meanwhile, the second-place participant will be $100,000 richer, which isn’t bad for a few weeks’ work! 

Even the person who is eliminated in the very first round of voting gets a consolation prize. That unfortunate individual takes home around $2500.