Those who are lucky enough to land a spot as a contestant on a popular television game show get the opportunity to take home a small fortune. Of course, they first have to face daunting challenges, possibly beat out a range of other competitors, and ultimately win the final prize. But that money is nothing compared to the big bucks that the shows’ hosts can potentially bring in each season.
Whether they’re longtime figures who became famous thanks to their roles as game show hosts or are successful celebrities who have been offered their plum hosting positions thanks to their previously established iconic status, those who lead the buzzer-beating fun tend to bring in staggeringly large paychecks thanks to their seemingly simple gigs. Some even earn jaw-droppingly large amounts for a single day on the job, which means that they only need to work for a few weeks each year, while others have earned world records for their work onscreen.
While some make much more than others — and one host only agreed to the job when his $1 million dollars was donated to charity — read on to find out how much money these game show hosts make.
The price was certainly right for Bob Barker
The host of The Price is Right from 1972 until 2007, Bob Barker, will likely be forever remembered as one of the ultimate icons of the game show side of the entertainment industry. And thanks to his onscreen charisma and his incredibly popular status with his loyal and dedicated daytime TV fans, which he established over 35 years, Barker was making an annual salary of $10 million during his last decade on the show, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Barker opened up about the show to Reuters in 2007, saying, "[The] game is different with each contestant’s personality, and that is what has made it interesting for me. Working with unrehearsed contestants, creating spontaneous entertainment, that’s what I’ve done for all these years, and I’ve enjoyed it." However, the legendary figure’s career went back even further to 1956 when he became the host of another game show, Truth or Consequences, and over the years, he worked on Simon Says, That’s My Line, among others before finding lasting success on The Price is Right.
Now retired after more than 50 years in the business and just a few years shy of 100 years old, Bob Barker is estimated to be worth $70 million. Not bad for a man who became famous for helping contestants play popular squeal-prompting, money-making games like Plinko.
The price that was right for Drew Carey was even more than his predecessor
Bob Barker’s replacement makes even more money than the longtime host did for his role on the game show that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Taking over the reins — or rather, the long, weirdly skinny mic — in 2007, Drew Carey, who’s estimated to be worth $165 million, reportedly makes $12.5 million per year on The Price is Right.
The comedian and former sitcom star talked to CBS News the year he scored his new job and admitted, "You can’t replace Bob Barker. I don’t compare myself to anybody. …It’s only about what you’re doing and supposed to do, and I feel like I’m supposed to be doing this."
He also opened up to Gold Derby about the show and money in 2017, saying, "I wasn’t in the TV business until I was in my 30s, so I had a like whole life of not having any money and scraping by paycheck to paycheck. And when I see people up here getting excited about winning $5,000 [or] $10,000 — which isn’t life-changing money, but it’s month-changing money, you know, it will change your day — I know what that means to win that kind of money. That’s a lot of money to a lot of people, including me still. So I can relate to people really well because of that."
Pat Sajak’s gig earned him a world record along with millions of dollars
Can we get an "m," "o," "n," "e," and a "y," please? Pat Sajak certainly can — and has been since he was asked to take over for Chuck Woolery as the host of Wheel of Fortune in 1981. In 2019, Sajak received the Guinness World Records title for having the longest career as a host for the same game show thanks to his 35 years and 198 days with Wheel, an impressive tenure that has also led him to an annual salary of $15 million, according to Forbes, which adds to his estimated net worth of $65 million.
Celebrity Net Worth breaks down his earnings, explaining that the show tapes four days per month, so "that’s 48 days per year of work to earn $15 million per year. …That means… Pat earns $312,500 per work day [and] $52,083 per show."
Sajak talked to USA Today about Wheel of Fortune in 2019, saying, "We’re sort of a safe-haven half-hour where nobody gets hurt, and everybody has fun. If I went in to pitch this show to a network today, the pitch would last about eight seconds, and they’d go, ‘Thank you, next,’ ’cause it’s old-fashioned. (That hasn’t stopped major networks from reviving other classic game shows). We’re just playing hangman and spinning a giant wheel and yet it’s become a part of people’s daily ritual, and it’s a nice spot to be in."
Vanna White clapped her way to earning a fortune and her own world record
Who would have thought that clapping would be such a lucrative career path and a record-breaking feat? Certainly not Wheel of Fortune‘s Vanna White who admitted to USA Today in May 2019 that she initially didn’t think she’d be "doing the show for more than five years." The woman who is also responsible for revealing letter-boasting tiles that eventually make up the game’s full words and sentences explained, "I thought, ‘Well, this is gonna be fun, but I can’t imagine it lasting that long.’ I remember sitting in the chair next to Pat [Sajak] saying, ‘I wonder where we’ll be in 10 years?’ … And here it’s been 36."
After more than three and a half decades later, White has worked her way up to a $10 million per year salary, according to Celebrity Net Worth, and is thought to be worth slightly more than her co-host, Pat Sajak, at $70 million. During the show’s four work days per month (or 48 days per year), "Vanna earns $208,333 per work day" and "$34,722 per show."
And Sajak wasn’t the only one to earn a Guinness World Record thanks to the game show. In 2013, White was honored as the Most Frequent Clapper due to the fact that "as of Jan[uary] 31, 2013, it was estimated White clapped at least 3,480,864 times across the show’s 30 seasons." That surely deserves a round of applause.
Steve Harvey probably isn’t feuding over his fortunate finances
Steve Harvey reigns in — and sometimes riles up — super competitive relatives on Family Feud, which he’s been hosting since 2010. Reportedly earning at least $10 million per year, that cash flow adds to his annual salary of $45 million and his overall net worth which is estimated to be $180 million.
That level of success in the industry seemingly comes along with unavoidable fame and although the former star of The Steve Harvey Show — who also has multiple bestselling books (including the appropriately titled Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches) and has appeared in movies like Love Don’t Cost a Thing and The Fighting Temptations, while also occasionally hosting the Miss Universe pageant — admits that being famous has its drawbacks, he also opened up to the Sunday Times about an "emotional" experience that he had while dining out in the French city of Cannes which was a result of the show, saying, "All of a sudden the DJ starts playing the theme song to Family Feud. Everybody applauded and pointed at me, I waved for a minute."
Steve Harvey continued, "I couldn’t stop crying because how did this little dude from Cleveland, Ohio, get to the south of France and they are playing a theme song and everybody in the restaurant knew who I am." As Harvey would declare on the show, "the survey says…" that’s a moment to remember.
Alex Trebek brings in a staggering amount each workday
Alex Trebek may host a trivia-based game-show, but his earnings are far from trivial. He joined Jeopardy! in 1984, and by 2019 his annual salary was $18 million with a total net worth of $75 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. They also explain that the show "tapes 46 days a year. [Trebek] shoots five episodes per day. In other words, he earns around $391,000 every tape day, $78,000 per actual episode." And he’s surely happy with his fortune, as he told The New Republic in 2014, "The secret to happiness, of course, is not getting what you want; it’s wanting what you get." And what he’s getting is a heck of a lot of money.
Alex Trebek also talked to KCBY in 2012 about his role as a host, saying, "My job is to provide the atmosphere and assistance to the contestants to get them to perform at their very best. And if I’m successful doing that, I will be perceived as a nice guy, and the audience will think of me as being a bit of a star." It’s safe to say he’s considered more than just a bit of a star, which is why fans were thrilled to see him return for season 36 in 2019 after undergoing treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer. During the season premiere, he reportedly told the audience, "I’m happy to report, I’m still here." We certainly hope he’ll be around for years to come.
Jamie Foxx takes in a treasure trove thanks to trendy tunes
Jamie Foxx may not have been a player in the game show arena for as long as some of the others in the industry, but he’s still earning a pretty impressive salary thanks to his relatively recent hosting duties. The actor and singer who’s estimated to be worth around $100 million, was paid $3 million for hosting Beat Shazam, according to Business Insider. Premiering in May 2017, Foxx also acts as an executive producer for the show which challenges contestants to identify hit songs, while also featuring plenty of guest appearances by music industry stars, including Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, NSYNC’s Lance Bass, TLC, MC Hammer, Christina Milian, Michael Bolton, Ginuwine, Smokey Robinson, and New Kids on the Block singer Joey McIntyre.
When the show was renewed for a third season in 2018, the President for Alternative Entertainment and Specials at Fox talked about the program and its host, saying, "Jamie Foxx is a one-of-a-kind entertainer who continues to bring his signature high energy and love of music to this show. It really is great fun for the whole family — including Jamie and his daughter, Corinne [Foxx], our resident deejay." There’s no doubt that along with surely be thrilled about his game show paycheck, Foxx definitely enjoys "#daddydaughtertime" on the set and shares pictures (and the occasional Boomerang) of his family on Instagram.
Alec Baldwin was given a fortune but won’t make a penny
"I would joke a couple years ago, when I started having more children, that I was going to end up hosting a game show to pay my bills," father-of-five Alec Baldwin told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016 while chatting about his work as a host on Match Game. However, while the actor may have joked about needing the money, it turns out that he isn’t taking a dime. Already having around $65 million to his name, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Baldwin explained to THR, "The fact of the matter is … they gave me a very generous amount of money for my charity. They gave me $1 million for my foundation to work just a few days."
He added, "But the show is fun. Beth McCarthy, who I’d done 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live with, is one of the best live TV directors in the business. And it’s at 10 o’clock. We can do it a little looser, a little saltier. That surprised me. Some of the things people said in rehearsal were wickedly funny, and I wondered if we’d be able to say any of it on TV. But they’re letting us. Hosting a game show is certainly not the only thing I want to do in life. But doing this and having fun with people, many of them my old friends — how can I say no to that?" He obviously couldn’t and obviously didn’t.
Jeff Probst is surviving with a salary worth millions
Contestants who manage to outwit, outplay, and outlast everyone else on Survivor take home a $1 million prize at the end of the onscreen outdoor adventure game, but the show’s longtime leader, Jeff Probst, banks four times as much each season. Worth an estimated $40 million, the host and executive producer who’s been with the show since its premiere in 2000 earns $4 million per year.
In February 2019, he talked to Global News about his 38th season, saying, "When it comes to gratitude, the craziest part is that my job really is as fun as it appears to be. There’s not a hidden wall of misery that I have to mask or overcome. It’s a blast."
The multiple Emmy award winner continued, "And I get to work with a great team of people I have known for years! We have a very fun format, we continue to have interesting, adventurous people who want to play the game, and we are fully supported by CBS to continue to try new and often risky ideas. I’m fully aware that I have it made." It’s hard to argue with that, especially considering the fact that his fame continues to hold steady and his fortune continues to rise faster than a ravenous Survivor contestant running toward an all-you-can-eat buffet table when their food-deprived season is finally over.
Anne Robinson wasn’t the weakest link after all
Television viewers in the United States may not necessarily remember Anne Robinson considering her state-side career as the host of NBC’s The Weakest Link, which only aired from 2001 until 2002 (with a shorter version running until 2003), wasn’t exactly a grand success. However, Robinson has enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the United Kingdom thanks to the BBC’s popular version of the show which has been around since way back in 2000.
Over the years, the unnervingly stern and otherwise seemingly emotionless host has earned a fortune that’s estimated to be worth $45 million. And although her paycheck was cut in half in 2011, she was still earning £1 million ($1.2 million) per year, which was down from an estimated £4 million (almost $5 million) over 24 months.
According to the Daily Mail, the reduced salary wasn’t a reflection of her performance or lack of popularity, but instead was done "after [BBC] bosses pledged to rein in star salaries following a huge public and political backlash over the amounts of license fee money spent on ‘on-screen talent.’" Despite the pay cut, we’re sure Robinson will be able to get by with her $45 million. And since game shows are still so popular in America, maybe she’ll try to woo over U.S. audiences with another trivia-testing or chance-tempting idea for a show sometime in the future.