In Hollywood, there’s an unspoken rule that the bigger the star, the bigger the paycheck. And while most celebrities can make a killing by starring in a box-office smash, not everyone can (or wants to) break out into the movies. In fact, actors, actresses, and TV personalities are proving that television might just be where the real money’s at.
In a recent report from Variety, the top-earning men and women in television were broken down into three categories: drama, comedy, and reality/host/news. Some of the celebs below may come as no surprise, but I bet you can’t guess the daytime star that tops the list as the highest-paid person in television.
1. Sofia Vergara – $250,000 per episode
Since 2009, Vergara has portrayed Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s smash-hit comedy “Modern Family,” which is now in its eighth season. This Colombian-American actress rakes in an estimated $6 million per season.
2. Kevin Spacey – $500,000 per episode
Netflix has given traditional broadcast television a run for its money over the last decade, and it’s really beginning to show. Kevin Spacey stars in the lead role of the streaming service’s Emmy-winning drama “House of Cards,” and each season, he walks away with $6.5 million.
3. Ellen DeGeneres – $20 million per year
Since starting her own daytime talk show in 2003, Ellen DeGeneres has been serving up witty jokes and laughing her way to the bank. Not including her numerous endorsement deals, this hysterical comedian takes home an estimated $20 million a year. Not too shabby!
4. Matt Lauer – $22-25 million per year
Matt Lauer has been delighting viewers as a co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show since 1997. Now in his 19th year with the program, Lauer brings home between $22-25 million per year for his early-morning antics.
5. Jim Parsons – $1 million per episode
Parsons is known for playing the egocentric Sheldon Cooper on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” now in its tenth season. Parsons, along with fellow cast members Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki, make an estimated $1 million per episode.
But you might be surprised to learn that the person earning the most money on television is…Judge Judy.
Judge Judy Sheindlin might just be the hardest-working woman on TV, and her earnings certainly reflect that. America’s favorite small claims court judge makes a whopping $47 million a year. With an income like that, who are we to judge?