As fans watch the drama unfold throughout the seasons of Teen Mom OG and Teen Mom 2, one underlying question persists -- how much must these women get paid to air their dirty laundry on cable television?
Confirming reality TV stars' salaries can be tricky, especially because networks like MTV often have non-disclosure agreements in their contracts that prevent stars from revealing what they're paid. Perhaps producers are afraid it would soil the illusion of reality, or at least distract from the interpersonal drama the shows rely on.
Fortunately, there are enough tidbits of information out there to piece together a vague picture of the financial hierarchy on Teen Mom. Thanks in large part to a report by InTouch Weekly collating rumors and statements, it's clear that the cast is paid based on performance -- though how that's calculated, no one may ever truly know.
Here's some educated guesses on Teen Mom OG and Teen Mom 2 pay-outs.
In 2012, an anonymous friend of Jenelle Evans told Star that the show was earning her about $75,000 a year, allowing her to quit working full time.
"Jenelle gets paid $75,000 a year and her mom gets paid $65,000: she calls her an overpaid babysitter," they said. "She also gets a lot of gift cards to places like The Olive Garden from MTV as a bonus payment."
That might be enough for most, though Evans disputed that in 2015. During an interview with Jared and Katie in the Morning for 17.5 KZL, Evans told them she's made "a little bit over maybe half [a million dollars,]" adding "I'm not really allowed to discuss it."
Of course, the meaning of that off-handed number depends a lot on the time frame Evans is discussing. Although, even if she means that that's her total income from MTV since 16 and Pregnant, it's a hefty sum.
Evans has made multiple statements in recent months indicating that she wants to get away from the camera and focus on endorsement deals and companies she's a part of.prevnext
There haven't been many leaks from the Chelsea Houska camp, though the father of her child did drop a few numbers last year during a crazed Instagram rant.
"Last year was 250k for lil princess," Adam Lind wrote. "Chelsea's contract will be up to 300k plus for new seasons."
Of course, it's hard to say how much of what Lind says can be trusted, especially considering his constant trouble with substance abuse.
However, The Ashley's Reality Round-Up supported his claims, adding that Adam gets paid about the same amount as his ex for appearing alongside her on the show.prevnext
Maci Bookout has never gotten specific down to the numbers, but she did offer a picture of her economic standing in her 2015 book Bulletproof.
"Reality TV can make you very famous, but you basically get the s–t end of the deal: Everyone knows your name and talks about you, but there's no red-carpet prestige or glamorous piles of money. Once you become a so-called reality TV star, people immediately think you're a high-end celebrity and you travel the world and have a mansion and so much money and all these other things they associate with having your face on television. The fact is, my real life isn't that much different from what it would have been without MTV. I still live in Chattanooga and go to Wal-Mart and buy bread and milk."prevnext
A 2011 report by Today revealed that Amber Portwood was forced to reveal her salary in court while facing charges for domestic violence and neglect. Portwood's attorney reportedly argued with the judge, who pressed the issue until Portwood confessed that she was paid $140,000 per six-month contract -- totalling $280,000 per year.
Needless to say, the teen moms get annual raises like everyone else, so there's no telling what Portwood is raking in these days.prevnext
The report from Star in 2012 also included a pointed quote about Catelynn Lowell and her husband, Tyler Baltierra.
"Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra have enough money to buy both of their mom's cars, and Tyler paid for his sister to get a boob job," it said.
There's also a rumor that the two of them made $100,000 for appearing on Couple's Therapy.prevnext
More than any of her cast mates, Abraham has spun her personal brand into a lucrative side business outside of the show. Her public appearances, branding endorsements and marketing deals reportedly make up the lion's share of her wealth. According to InTouch she brought in about $30,000 per episode of Teen Mom OG before she left the series.
A report by The Squander also suggested that Abraham has made millions of dollars off of her adult entertainment videos, with each appearance on CamSoda bringing in about $12,000.prevnext
Kailyn Lowry is the star that many speculators point to when the suggest that MTV pays the teen moms more for each consecutive child they have. These rumors are unconfirmed, though Lowry now has three children and reportedly makes $300,000 per season.
On top of that, Lowry has written more books than any of her co-stars, including two memoirs, an adult coloring book, and an illustrated children's book. Another forthcoming book will be illustrated by her son.prevnext
After news broke that Briana DeJesus would be joining the cast of Teen Mom 2 in the eighth season, The Ashley's Reality Round-Up reported an estimate of her salary.0comments
The website said that DeJesus would be making $20,000 for the season as the newcomer. In that same report, The Ashley generalized the rest of the girls' salaries, saying the original cast makes "over $300,000 a season."
Of course, none of this is ever confirmed or denied by people in the know, as these contracts are jealously guarded. It was clear, however, that the rest of the cast was not pleased about DeJesus joining their show.prev