Tyra Banks Dragged For America’s Next Top Model Pay, But One Contestant Is Defending Her

Tyra Banks in screenshot from episode of America's Next Top Model
(Image credit: UPN)

Tyra Banks has had a tough few months in the limelight. Not everyone was happy with her first season as the host on Dancing with the Stars and then this week she was dragged online for how much models made on America’s Next Top Model during its heyday. Now, another ANTM star has defended Banks and the show, but the end result has still seen a lot of mud slung around. 

So what happened here? Essentially, this past week a former America’s Next Top Model star, Sarah Hartshorne, went viral on Twitter when bringing up what she was paid for her time on the reality show. While she noted she has talked about this on other platforms like TikTok a lot, she got a lot of info out to the fans in just a few characters with the tweet:

Her tweet wasn’t particularly filled with any vitriol or bad feelings toward her reality TV experience, but the comments on the post got pretty riled up. One other tweet that went viral basically said that this is something people should be mad at the America’s Next Top Model host for. 

Tyra needs to be brought up on this. I’m tired of these ‘She’s a businesswoman’/‘They were making a reality show’ excuses. There’s no justification for intentionally traumatizing and triggering young women for millions of dollars. I don’t care what they signed or ‘consented’ to.

Another post shaded Tyra Banks with her own meme:

While some defended Tyra in the comments, the gist here is that a faction of people felt as if Tyra may have done some of the contestants dirty during their runs on the show. But is that type of criticism fair? For that, we need look no further than a second ANTM contestant's comments.

Another Former America’s Next Top Model Contestant Explains How The $40 Worked

After Sarah Hartshorne’s comments made the rounds, another former Top Model star ultimately decided it was time to weigh in on those comments and what really happened during her time on the show. She explained that the models were not “paid” $40 per day as a payday, noting the money was meant as a per diem to cover expenses. Toccara Jones, who appeared on the third cycle of the show, told TMZ

First of all, we didn’t get paid anything, it’s a contest. So, there’s no payment. When do people pay to be in a contest or get paid to be in a contest? The whole purpose of a contest is to win a prize. You know what I’m saying, it’s for the exposure. That $40 dollars was for per diem, it was a per diem so you actually didn’t get paid, technically. No one got paid, because if someone got paid there could be legal issues about a winner or who got paid how much. It could’ve been a whole big drama… It’s a contest.

Obviously, the contestants who appear on America's Next Top Model sign contracts and are walked through what signing on means before they say yes. And while it might not seem fair from those online who are looking in from the outside, it's not really that dissimilar from what other contestants on reality shows get paid. 

Most shows of this ilk, including the likes of Survivor or even Top Chef receive a small amount for appearing on the show (and can earn more the longer they are on, in the case of Survivor.) The end goal, though, is to win the show and take home the big prize. Toccara Jones personally feels that this is what everyone who signs on for the show should know and that fans shouldn't be giving Tyra Banks flack for it. She also said: 

Of course, you cannot cancel Tyra! No! … Right, like this is the modeling world. She didn’t create this; she just showed y’all. She just became the face of it, which is great. You know what? You’re gonna get some good and you’re gonna get some bad and it comes with the territory. Back to the tough skin. I love Tyra, she’s still thrivin’, she’s still doing good, and she’s going to continue doing good. People are still talking about the franchise and here we are still speaking about it, so…

In the past, Tyra Banks has spoken out about some regrets she has about how the show was run, but pay didn't come up. She is still synonymous with the show, which did launch the careers of some models who still have roles in the industry, including Toccara Jones.  In this case, the stepping stone course seems as if it may have worked out more for some contestants than others, and that's probably always going to be the case. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.