'Little People, Big World': How Much Money Do The Roloffs Make For Being On The Show?

How much money do the members of the Roloff family make for appearing on Little People, Big World? That's the question some fans are asking after it was revealed that Jeremy Roloff and his wife, Audry, plunked down nearly half a million (as reported by The Daily Mail) for their first home.

There are two answers to that question; a short one and a long one. The short answer is this: no one knows except the Roloffs, their accountants, and the executives at TLC who handle their contracts. In other words, that information isn't public knowledge. The long answer is: given what is known about the reality TV industry in general, it's possible to speculate, and speculate we shall.

First, when it comes to how much money any reality TV star - a Roloff, a Duggar, a Kardashian, or otherwise - makes from their show, there are four things to consider.

  • How popular is the show?
  • How often do they appear on it?
  • Did they get fair contracts?
  • Has the show led to other opportunities? (And a related question: do the performers have day jobs or businesses outside of the show?)

Fortunately, a 2016 Business Insider report crunched the numbers and came up with a general idea of what reality TV stars, at all levels of popularity, can generally expect to make. For a cable-TV "docu-series," such as Pawn Stars or Little People, Big World, salaries for "A"-list cast members - in this case, Matt and Amy, Zach and Tori, and Jeremy and Audrey - can range from a pittance to pretty decent money.

We couldn't do life without these two Mamas! Love you Mom and MIL!???? #ZandTpartyofthree

A post shared by Tori Roloff (@toriroloff) on

"Per episode it ranges from low-end, like $1,500 an episode, to $3,000 at the high end. And then after three years of success, it can go up to $7,000 to $10,000 an episode. After that, you start moving into the Kardashian level."
Little People, Big World is actually in its second incarnation after a break of a couple of years following the initial 2006-2010 run. That means that the show was popular enough for TLC to bring it back, and it remains one of the more popular shows on the network. For this reason, it's likely that the principal players bring in around $10k or more per episode. At 12 episodes per season, that's 120 large. That's not Kardashian money, but it's not minimum wage, either.
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People who don't appear on the show very often - the odd farmhand here, a cousin or grandparent there - but still have their faces on-camera, may get a few hundred bucks per appearance. That means that Molly Roloff, who hates being on-camera, lives in another state, has a day job, and doesn't appear on the show very often, probably only gets a few thousand, tops, per season. And Jacob, who has quit the show entirely, gets none.

However, all of that money is just theoretical if you signed a bad contract. That appears to be the case with the youngest Roloff, Jacob, who has quit the show for good and who will tell anyone who listens that he thinks he was "screwed" (he used a different word, beginning with the letter F, according to the Keeping Up With the Roloffs blog) out of his money. Why Jacob believes he was swindled out of his money is unclear; perhaps he thinks they should have given him more; perhaps he violated some clause that caused him to forfeit his cash; who knows?

Beyond your checks for being on the show, there's another aspect to being a reality TV star that brings in money: other opportunities you got based on the show. That's how the Kardashians are able to bring in millions despite being B-list reality-TV stars: though their TV contracts are pretty generous in themselves, it's their fashion lines, perfume lines, and other "branded" products that really bring in all that bank.

The Roloffs haven't been quite so fortunate, of course. But that doesn't mean that LPBW hasn't helped them off-camera. Family patriarch Matt Roloff, for example, runs a business - Direct Access Solutions - that sells accessibility products for people with dwarfism. He owned that business before becoming a reality TV star, of course, but his exposure on cable can't have hurt his business' bottom line. Similarly, Amy Roloff runs a charitable foundation; and Jeremy and Audrey have turned their marriage into something of a brand, selling books and educational materials aimed at building strong marriages.

So the bottom line is this: while the Roloffs most likely aren't making millions, or anything approaching it, from Little People, Big World, they're doing well enough that they probably won't have to worry about money for a while.

[Featured Image by Jeremy Roloff/Facebook]