What Were American Gladiators Salaries? How Much Did Contestants Make?

If there’s one thing absolutely nobody can deny, it’s that the cast of every entertainment production is its entire heart — whether it be a fictional drama, a reality original, or a competition series. Thus, of course, as indicated in Netflix’s ‘Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators,’ the abruptly popular, stunt-filled 1990s show ‘American Gladiators’ was no different. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about how these stars were compensated for their extensive time and efforts — mental, physical, plus emotional — we’ve got the key details for you.

What Was A Gladiator’s Salary?

As per the five-part streaming service documentary, whenever an individual joined this proto-reality game show as a trained “gladiator” during its early years, they signed a “perpetuity” contract. This means they agreed for their initial deal to last forever with little to no windows open for re-negotiation under any circumstance — things like success, failure, or even breakeven rarely matter here. Therefore, it’s likely true their lead producer-distributor Samuel Goldwyn Jr. preferred to fire people rather than get into talks of fair remunerations despite the success of ‘American Gladiators.’

In other words, a gladiator was only paid the precise salary specified in their agreement for however long they chose to stay with the cult classic, Goldwyn Television-backed original series. They weren’t given bonuses in terms of profit or merchandise shares either, and when some of them did ask for better compensation upon noting their standing, they were let go, per the docuseries.

Nevertheless, according to reports, while the gladiators were paid the union minimum of $700 per episode during season 1, this did get bumped to $1,000 from season 2 onwards upon request. Coming to the 2008-2009 NBC reboot, the gladiators here reportedly had a fixed earning of $10 an hour, whereas the extras brought in to fill the studios were ironically paid $15 an hour in total.

How Much Money Did the Contestants Make?

While it’s unclear precisely how much each contender was paid simply for featuring in ‘American Gladiators’ — if at all — we do know they got incredible cash prizes all to themselves if they won. In fact, for the initial five seasons, the half-season winners were guaranteed a total of $10,000, whereas their runner-ups walked away with half of this amount at $5,000 for their efforts.

Then there’s the fact the Grand Champions for these five installments received an additional $15,000 plus a brand-new car, while their runner-ups bagged an astounding $10,000 more. As for seasons 6 and 7, the contenders ostensibly earned 2,500 for winning matches in the preliminary plus semi-final rounds, with the Grand Champion being awarded $25,000 in the former and $20,000 plus a guaranteed berth in International Gladiators 2 in the latter.

Read More: Was American Gladiators Scripted or Real?