Beyond the private islands, luxury accommodations, and endless supply of champagne, being a contestant on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette isn’t necessarily the most glamorous gig. Of course, there’s always the chance of finding a potential fiancé(e), but most contestants go home with quite a bit of debt. While many fans assume the contestants on the show are paid for their time spent filming — which, for some, could be more than two months — the truth is, the contestants aren’t paid a dime.
And it’s not just the lack of a paycheck that hurts their bank account — many have to shell out some serious cash to be on the show. One of the biggest expenses? Wardrobe.
How much do contestants spend on clothes?
Prior to arriving at the mansion on night one, contestants are given an extensive “packing list” with just about every kind of garment for every type of weather. Unlike the lead, who gets a personal stylist and expensive designer clothing for every rose-giving moment, contestants are on their own when it comes to clothes. And some have gone to extreme measures to make sure their on-camera debut is picture-perfect.
“I know that there are women in the past who cashed out their 401(k)s for the show,” television blogger Dana Weiss told Mic. “Some have gone into serious credit card debt.”
Former Bachelorette Jillian Harris can attest to this. She admitted that when she was a contestant vying for Jason Mesnick’s affection back in Season 13, she broke the bank on her wardrobe.
“The girls do have to bring all of their own clothing and of course, they want to be wearing the best clothes EVER to be seen on TV in,” she wrote on her blog. “I had re-mortgaged my house and I spent something like $8,000 on clothing.”
And Jillian’s not alone. Former Bachelor contestant Olivia Caridi may have also spent a pretty penny on her wardrobe. In a clip from Ben Higgins’ season, contestant Amanda Stanton is overheard talking about Olivia’s pricey threads.
“[She] said she spent, like, $40,000 on clothes,” she said in the clip, though Olivia hasn’t confirmed that amount herself.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy, contestants do have to worry about their real life back home while they’re off filming the show. Remember those things called rent and bills? Yeah, those still rack up even when you’re traveling the world searching for love.
Courtney Robertson, winner of Season 16 of The Bachelor, revealed in her book, I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends, that she had to set aside enough money to cover a few months’ worth of rent and bills just in case she made it all the way to the end and had her sister take over paying her expenses while she was gone.
In the past, contestants’ contracts barred them from taking brand deals until after the show was done airing. Katie Morton said on the She’s All Bach podcast that she was paid a flat rate of $10,000 for Bachelor In Paradise Season 6. But her contract stipulated that she could not take any brand deals until October of that year when the show ended. She even implied that her contract barred her from taking any other work while the show was in-season.
“You can’t even do brand deals,” she said in the June 16, 2022 episode. Morton had to leave her job in sales to go on BIP Season 6 (she appeared in Bachelor Season 23 originally), and then had to find a way to live off of the $10,000 for several months. And it seems pay is not equal on BIP.
In the same interview, Morton learned that co-star Blake Horstmann was paid $800 per day while on the show, while others reportedly only got $400 per day. Had he only been on for one day, he’d only make $800. But he lasted around 20 days, making his pay around $16,000. Colton Underwood also reportedly negotiated for a flat rate of $10,000, no matter how long he stayed on Bachelor In Paradise Season 5.
Franchise case members do brand deals all the time now, but that was only because they started negotiating for that allowance once being an influencer became more popular, according to Morton.
How much do contestants make after the show?
But of course there are plenty of perks that come along after appearing on a show like The Bachelor, such as the potential of growing a substantial following on social media, which can translate to serious cash. Bachelor Nation author Amy Kauffman revealed in her book that contestants with 250,000 followers on Instagram are easily making $1,000 for a sponsored post. For those who have surpassed one million followers — like Becca Tilley, JoJo Fletcher, and Kaitlyn Bristowe — they’re looking at upwards of $10,000 per ad. Cha-ching.
“Overnight you have this huge following, so all these brands are like, ‘Here, do you want to work with us?’” former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe told The Cut. “So you get offers to do the Flat Tummy Tea and the teeth whitening and all that. For somebody who has worked a regular job before, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to pay me to do that? Glorious.’”
And Instagram ads are just a piece of the pie. Contestants, depending on their popularity after the show, can capitalize on other opportunities like club appearances, spinoff shows, hosting gigs, and for the very lucky ones, televised weddings.
Todd Wawrychuk/ABC via Getty Images
It’s been rumored that former Bachelor Sean Lowe and his wife Catherine Giudici were paid a six-figure paycheck for getting hitched on TV — oh, and that’s on top of the all-expenses-paid wedding.
Sure, there may not be a paycheck when you sign up for The Bachelor, but the possibilities that come along afterward might just make up for it.
The Bachelor, Season 27 Premiere, Monday, January 23, 8/7c, ABC