Below Deck's Eddie Lucas Laments Pay Discrepancy At Bravo Between Yachties And Real Housewives

screenshot of Eddie Lucas on Below Deck
(Image credit: Bravo)

For nearly five seasons of Below Deck, viewers have seen a professional evolution with main castmate Eddie Lucas. He rose from a lowly deckhand, who was caught in some early romantic entanglements, all the way up to a first officer in Season 9. Fan-favorite Captain Lee has, in fact, often reflected on how he considers Lucas to be like a second son at this point. However, the 36-year-old is not returning for another round of boatmances and bad tips, which seems to have inspired him to become open and honest about the pay discrepancy at Bravo between yachties like him and stars from the Real Housewives franchise.

Speaking to the New York Post, the Bravo network alum lamented what he considers to be an unfair arrangement. Technically, Below Deck and its various spinoffs follow real-time yachties, engineers and captains doing their real day-to-day jobs. Of course, there's some of the standard coworker drama that's expected to go down, given that they are also doubling as reality TV stars. According to Eddie Lucas, though, the notorious Real Housewives cast members are basically doing half the amount of work as Below Deck's stars, but are make twice the pay (or more). In his words:

While we do get paid better than a normal yachtie, of course, we are still not getting paid what people like the Housewives are making, which is a little frustrating, because they’re not really working — they’re just going out to dinner and fighting.

For perspective, someone like Erika Jayne, who has been a main castmate on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for over six years now, reportedly makes upwards of $600,000 in salary for a single season. For what it's worth, she is putting most of her whole life out there for public consumption, even while facing an ongoing legal battle on multiple fronts. In contrast, Below Deck stars film for far shorter durations during the weeks-long charter season, and aren't necessarily required to open up about their personal lives back home beyond what they choose to share on the boats.

Yet still, as Eddie Lucas pointed out, Bravo's reality TV yachties are also juggling an intensely confined and stressful work schedule. The setup has paid off for Bravo for the most part, with Below Deck even surpassing the Real Housewives of Atlanta (the most popular in its franchise) in ratings for the first time in 2020, per Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Allegedly, though, they receive only a small fee for their appearances, which is speculated to be only a few thousand dollars per episode (on top of their regular salaries and tips from charter guests). Lucas seemed to be hinting to the outlet that the status quo needs some changing in that regard, especially in regards to growing housing costs and other side effects of inflation.

There is somebody monetizing off of the show, but it’s definitely not us. Below Deck — regardless of it being the most popular show on Bravo — we are the lowest-paid cast members.

For totally different reasons, Eddie Lucas called out Bravo producers in particular last season. A controversy was brewing both on and off Below Deck due to a castmate’s use of a racial slur, and Lucas blamed production for trying to shut down conversations surrounding it. It isn't confirmed if that's the reason why he was not asked to appear in the upcoming season, but it may be plausible enough a theory, based on his version of events:

I was not invited back to do another season. I actually didn’t even get a phone call from them saying they hired someone else — which kind of goes to show what the production entails. Everyone on Below Deck is expendable.

Officially, Bravo hasn't greenlit Season 10 of Below Deck. Clearly, though, Eddie Lucas is still privy to behind-the-scenes knowledge. But what he isn't privy to, in his view, is one of those fat Real Housewives paychecks…

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.