We mock them, sniff at their “stardom” and use their antics as punch lines, but laugh all you want because reality stars are making some real cash these days. The Daily Beast released its first-annual ranking of the year’s highest-paid reality stars, and topping the list is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Kim Kardashian.
The ubiquitous red-carpet walker rolled up an estimated $6 million thanks to deals with everyone from Skechers to Kotex and Quick Trim and a personal appearance fee that is rumored to range up to $75,000 per step and repeat.
The Beast praised Kardashian for her diversity, noting that in addition to licensed perfumes, a cupcake mix, sponsored tweets, a swimwear line called Beach Bunny Swimwear, the book “Kardashian Konfidential” and a stake in an online shoe company called ShoeDazzle, she also has a part of a licensed clothing line, K-Dash by Kardashian, and in the chain of Dash retail stores.
Coming in just behind Kardashian is former “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” star Lauren Conrad, who banked an estimated $5 million courtesy of her fast-selling fashion line at Kohl’s and a trio of young adult books, including her latest, “Sugar and Spice,” which has sold more than one million hardback copies. Conrad has also sold more than 40,000 copies of her “Lauren Conrad Style” guide.
“The Real Housewives of New York” cast member Bethenny Frankel amassed an impressive $4 million last year, most of it courtesy of her spin-off show, “Bethenny Getting Married” and her series of nutrition books (“Naturally Thin” and “The SkinnyGirl”), margarita mixes, an endorsement deal with Pepperidge Farm and a slot on “Skating With the Stars.”
Another “Hills” alum, Audrina Patridge fills out the top five with $3.5 million, which came as a result of Carl’s Jr. and Bongo jeans endorsement deals, a production deal with reality maven Mark Burnett for a 2011 VH1 series and a hosting job on the Internet network Yobi.tv.
Patridge is tied with one of the most polarizing reality figures, “Kate Plus 8” mom Kate Gosselin, who raked in a reported $250,000 per episode for her TLC show, in addition to cash for speaking engagements, hefty sums for her four books and her fees for a stint on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Coming in at #6 is everyone’s favorite “Jersey Shore” cash machine, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Reportedly the show’s highest-paid star, he pulls down anywhere from a rumored $15,000 to $50,000 per personal appearance and is reported to have nailed a six-figure advance for his autobiography and additional dough for his just-released book “Here’s the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and Getting in Your GTL on the Jersey Shore.” Sitch is also working on his own line of colognes, has appeared in ads for Reebok and Vitamin Water, released a best-selling iPhone app and fitness DVDs, endorses nutritional supplements and is part owner of the vodka company Devotion.
Rounding out the list are Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian ($2.5 million each), Pauly D of “Jersey Shore” ($2 million) and E! star Kendra Wilkinson ($2 million).
Even those who didn’t make the list this year garnered mentions. The Beast reported that “Jersey Shore” breakout star Snooki earned $750,000 in 2010 and recently signed a deal with the Happy Feet slipper company for a line of nighttime footwear.