How Much Money Do Survivor Contestants Make?

There are long-running reality competition shows, and then there’s Survivor. The groundbreaking series recently aired its whopping 43rd season on CBS, with no signs of the property slowing down. We all know that the winner of Sole Survivor wins the $1 million prize, but how much money do the rest of the castaways typically make?

Throughout each season of Survivor (opens in new tab)’s record-breaking run on television, the castaways are entirely focused on winning the game and earning the $1 million dollar prize. While Winners at War doubled this prize, the show usually doesn’t touch on how much money each of the castaways make for their participation in the show. After all, they spend weeks away from their families and become public figures overnight.

How Much Is The Bare Minimum For Survivor Prizes?

While the winner of Sole Survivor get the $1 million dollar prize, there’s plenty of money to spare for the other castaways who didn’t manage to win the iconic game. This includes the ill-fated first boot, which typically gets a payout of $3,500 in new player seasons. What’s more, every member of the cast that attends the finale/reunion is awarded an addition $10,000 for their time. This sum is incentive for even the most bitter castaway to show up for the finale. Additionally, that $10k is forfeited if their contract is broken in any other way. It's currently unclear how this part of the contract functions in the post-Covid seasons, where the results are being read on the island directly after filming. 

So even if you they the first person voted out of the season, contestants on a new season of Survivor can make a minimum of around 13.5 thousand dollars. Not too bad for only 3 days spent on the island. And rather than starving and being mentally exhausted, the pre-jury get to go on a vacation for the second half of their 39 day trip.

How Much Do The Top Placing Survivor Castaways Make?

Everyone knows that since Survivor’s first season back in 2000, the grand prize for the winner is $1 million. While this was doubled to entice the winners back for Season 40, the show is mostly consistent in this way. But castaways who fail to win their season can still make a big chunk of change.

For instance, the second place castaway in any given survivor is typically given a whopping $100,000. While this is before taxes, it’s a substantial consolation prize. Similarly, the third place contestant makes $85,000. And while everyone on Survivor is hoping to win the million, simply making the final tribal council guarantees a pretty penny-- especially combined with the $10K reunion sum.

What About The Castaways In The Middle?

While we’ve got an idea of how much the Survivor cast makes if they’re first boot or make it to Final Tribal Council, most castaways are someplace in the middle. Luckily some notable alumni have been open about their earnings, which goes up with every vote survived.

Two time Survivor and podcast host Corinne Kaplan is one alum that has helped peel back the curtain on how much castaways can end up taking home who place in the middle of the seasons’ ranking. She made a whopping $45,000 total for placing seventh in Survivor: Gabon, the same season she made her legendary Jury Speech. And when returning for Survivor: Caramoan and placing 12th, her payout was $20,000. So while it’s risk to take so much time off from work to film the show, contestants on Survivor can definitely make a pretty penny from appearing.

Survivor is clearly the adventure of a lifetime, and the long-running CBS competition show has been known to change the lives of its contestants. And it turns out there’s a wide margin for prize money depending on how long you outlast. Because in addition to TV exposure and an adventure in Fiji, castaways can earn anywhere from $12,000- $100,000 when not taking home the title of Sole Survivor.

CinemaBlend will keep you updated on all things Survivor as details about the show’s future become public. In the meantime, check out our fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.