How Many Dollars Do the Duggars' 18-Plus Draw?

Less isn't more when it comes to how much this reality-TV family takes in from their big-brood broadcasts

By Leslie Gornstein Sep 02, 2009 2:48 AMTags
The Duggars: 19 and CountingTLC

How much do the Duggars get for their reality show? For me, the show is like an accident—you just have to look.
—Nicole_Tafoya, via Twitter

An "accident"? How cruel! Children are a gift from God! Right now, those 18 kids—soon to be 19—are blessing the planet with an estimated 1.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide as an environmental legacy! And just in case you need help with your science homework, every one of those little angels stands ready to explain how evolution is a lie. You're just mean.

As for how much the Duggars are making off TLC network via their show, 18 Kids and Counting, well, hold on to your Bibles...

Networks usually won't disclose the deals they make with individual families. But according to reality producer Terence Michael, the general rule of thumb is that reality-show families earn about 10 percent of a show's per-episode budget. So, if TLC budgets about $250,000 to $400,000 per episode—and Michael suspects it does—that would mean $25,000 to $40,000 in the Duggars' pockets for four or five days' work, which is roughly how long it takes to film a typical episode.

If the 18 Kids and Counting show grows even more popular, the Duggars' pay goes up as the show's budget rises. The show budget for the Gosselins is reported to be much higher, with some reports estimating that those Plus Eight people rake in $75,000 per episode.

Bonus nugget: Does that mean that the Ace of Cakes dude makes the same kind of money? Not likely.

"If it's thought that a show is going to bring in more money for the business it's featuring, the producers get away with paying the star a lot less," says Michael, currently producing a reality show about Motocross champ James Stewart Jr. and family. "More like 5 percent of the per-episode budget."

For the record, the Duggars also make money from their commercial investments. But having your own orchestra made up entirely of your own children? Priceless.


Get all the details about how 18 Kids and Counting is taking it to the next level.