Believe it or not, reality television can make it surprisingly easy to build a fortune. Some of the highest-paid reality stars like Snooki and Lauren Conrad made hundreds of thousands for every episode. It’s also really easy to squander it all away.
For some reality stars, it might be a nasty divorce or child support payments that whittles away their fortune. For others, it’s simply bad spending habits or worse—tax evasion. Check out how many of your favorite reality stars are secretly really, really poor.
“The Situation” Is In A Bad Tax Situation
At his height, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino was one of the main cast members of Jersey Shore. By the final season, Sorrentino was bringing in $150,000 per episode and had amassed a net worth of more than $10 million.
Unfortunately, with all that money he couldn’t figure out how to hire an accountant. The Situation made a few bad investments and failed to pay taxes on more than $9 million of his income. His tax evasion led to his high-profile arrest and incarceration. Today, he’s only worth about $300,000.
Janice Dickinson Couldn’t Save Her Modeling Career Or Fortune
For one generation, Janice Dickinson is known as “the world’s first supermodel” who graced the cover of Vogue 37 different times. For a younger generation, she’s the woman from various reality shows like The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
Despite her years of modeling fame and being a reality television star, she hasn’t kept a ton of money. In 2012, Dickinson was evicted from her L.A. apartment for not paying rent and one year later had to declare bankruptcy.
Speidi Spent Way Too Much Of Their Money
Speidi AKA Spencer and Heidi Pratt were once the king and queen villains on The Hills. The pair couldn’t be stopped and at the show’s peak, Heidi was making $65,000 an episode. With their endorsements, the pair were making more than $1 million a year. Not long after the show ended though, Speidi quickly lost their hype.
Heidi ended up spending most of her fortune on disastrous plastic surgery and would “indulge in $30,000 shopping sprees.” Today, the pair is barely worth $100,000.
Rob Kardashian Is Poor Compared To His Family
So, technically, Rob Kardashian has an estimated net worth of $10 million but much of that is tied up in family money. As for the money he actually has access to, it’s steadily fallen over the years. Rob’s income has plummeted ever since he stopped appearing on episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
The youngest Kardashian has a monthly income of only $10,000 and a monthly child support payment of $20,000. You don’t have to be a math expert to know that those numbers don’t work out in Rob’s favor.
Tori Spelling Admits She Just Had Expensive Taste
The star of Tori and Dean: Inn Love has been plagued with financial problems since 2007. The start of Tori Spelling’s downfall came when she only received $800,000 of her father’s $500 million estate. By 2014, Tori and her husband Dean McDermott were apparently “living paycheck to paycheck.”
Spelling admitted that her problem was that she grew up in Hollywood and didn’t know how to let go of her “expensive tastes.” She’s been sued twice by American Express for not paying her bills and only has a net worth of $500,000.
Jon Gosselin Is Working Dead-End Jobs Now
Jon Gosselin rose to reality tv fame as part of the TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8. He was the patriarch of the family until 2009 when the couple split and Jon left the show. While he was on the show, Jon was making a reported $22,000 per episode. Since leaving, Jon has had to get desperate to make ends meet.
After working as a male dancer, DJ, and a server at TGI Fridays, Gosselin now barely has $10,000 to his name. Yikes.
Kate Gosselin Isn’t Much Better Off Either
When Jon and Kate Gosselin split in 2009, Kate seemed to have gotten the better deal. Yes, she was now a single mom (to many kids) but she kept the reality television show and the revenue from it. Unfortunately, the former nurse has to rely heavily on the income from Kate Plus 8 and other shows like Dancing With The Stars.
Kate claims that all of this was simply to pay for her family and her net worth reflects it. She only has a net worth of around $200,000 now.
Richard Hatch Couldn’t Survive Off His Survivor Winnings
For original fans of the reality show, Richard Hatch was the first sole survivor. In 2000, he ended up taking home the first-ever $1 million grand prize and cemented himself as a true villain in the game. Only six years later, Hatch was convicted of tax evasion and had to spend three years in prison.
Since the charges, Hatch has done anything he can to make the money back like returning for Survivor: All-Stars and selling his “seed” if you know what we mean. Hatch said that he could be the father of thousands of children.
Kody Brown Is Barely Making Ends Meet
The famous polygamist from the TLC show Sister Wives is stretched as thin as it gets when it comes to money. Between his four wives, eighteen kids, and four massive Las Vegas homes, Brown has a ton of bills to pay.
Since 2010, Brown has made more than $3 million from the show but his net worth is only $800,000. The Sister Wives are going to need to start bringing in some extra income ASAP.
Tiffany Pollard Didn’t Make Much From Her VH1 Shows
Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s unique personality first graced our television screens in 2006 on VH1’s Flavor of Love. After losing out on Flavor Flav’s love, she got her own spin-off I Love New York which brought her a ton of fame but not a lot of fortune.
At the height of her reality television game, most of her revenue came from promotional appearances and her personal brand and not from her VH1 salary. Today, she only has a net worth of $500,000.
Stephen Baldwin Needs Help From His Own Daughter
While Stephen Baldwin got his start as a serious actor making good money, he quickly turned to reality show work like Celebrity Big Brother and The Apprentice. Baldwin was trying to keep up a life of luxury but in 2017 his home was foreclosed. All of this was made worse by the fact he didn’t pay taxes for almost six years.
Today, Stephen is worth a measly $500,000 which pales in comparison to his daughter Hailey’s net worth of $2 million. Maybe he can ask her for a loan.
Danielle Staub Ended Up $500,000 In Debt
Staub was only on Real Housewives of New Jersey for two seasons but she left a legacy filled with drama, scandal, and major money problems. In 2012, the model and actress filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and claimed that she was approximately $500,000-$1 million in debt.
Since filing for bankruptcy, Staub has done anything to make the money back including releasing a memoir and taking on an adult dancer contract. It might take a long time to make that money back.
Josh Duggar Has Fallen From Fortune And Grace
The Duggar family from the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting have a net worth of more than $3.5 million. Their eldest son Josh, however, doesn’t exactly have an even split of the money. Due to the Ashley Madison leak and other information about Josh that came to the surface, his actions forced the show to be canceled.
The controversy left Josh struggling to pay the bills and he had to return to work as a used car salesman.
Farrah Abraham’s Net Worth Is Disputed
Farrah Abraham was only 16-years-old when she debuted on the reality tv show Teen Mom. She was notorious when it came to starting drama. Her personality brought in viewers so, at its peak, MTV was paying Abraham $30,000 per episode.
Abraham now survives off of the income from adult films, promotional appearances, and branding. In 2018, some estimated she was worth anywhere from $400,000 to $1 million. Whatever the number is, we thought the famous Teen Mom would be making much more.
Dennis Rodman Blew His Entire NBA Salary
Over the course of his impressive NBA career, Dennis Rodman earned a whopping $50 million. He quickly blew it all on expensive purchases and had to turn to a second career in reality television. Rodman became a star on The Apprentice, Celebrity Big Brother, and Celebrity Rehab.
Despite his reality tv career, Rodman is barely worth $500,000 now. In a 2012 court appearance, he admitted it was because of his monthly spending habits of over $31,000.
Teresa Giudice Won’t Stay Afloat For Long
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star technically has a net worth of $11 million but she actually has a ton of debt. In 2013, Teresa Giudice and her husband were both charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and sent to prison. She only spent 11 months behind bars but the couple had to pay back thousands in restitution and were forced to put their home on the market.
Giudice’s saving grace is the sales from her cookbooks and her RHONJ salary. That $11 million net worth definitely isn’t stable.
Melissa Gorga Failed To Profit In Real Estate
Yet another RHONJ who can’t manage their money, Melissa Gorga’s net worth is pegged at being negative $1.5 million. Yes, you read that correctly. How does someone on a reality television show end up millions of dollars in debt?
Well, Gorga and her husband Joe started on the show as real estate developers. Their real estate company didn’t work out and it led to them to owe the full $2.2 million mortgage to the bank and another $250,000 in other debt.
Porsha Williams Will Do Anything To Make It Seem Like She’s Rich
The Real Housewives of Atlanta star is an entrepreneur with a long resume but not much wealth to show from it. When Porsha Williams was married to NFL quarterback Kordell Stewart, she was worth a whopping $16 million. The pair divorced in 2013 and her net worth plummeted.
Williams has tried her hand at modeling, music, and other reality shows like The New Celebrity Apprentice. None of the efforts did much to increase her wealth and she’s now only worth $600,000.
Johnny Bananas Has Won A Ton But Not Kept Much
If you were a die-hard fan of MTV reality shows then you’ll recognize Johnny Bananas. He got his start on the Real World: Key West and then appeared on multiple seasons of The Challenge. He’s such a reality show beast that he won 14 challenges and earned nearly $700,000 doing it.
Bananas hasn’t exactly capitalized on his wealth since his winnings though. Today, he has a projected net worth of only $200,000 and most of that is from a branded tank top line.
Sonja Morgan Is Now A Poor Housewife Of New York
The Real Housewives franchise is built on rich women doing rich things and living a rich life. That was the life ROHNY star Sonja Morgan lived until 2015 when she finally filed for bankruptcy. Morgan claimed to have assets worth $13.5 million but was $19.8 million in debt.
To clear her bankruptcy, Morgan has to sell off most of her assets and some of her property. She did manage to keep her jewelry, sportswear, and swimwear lines which have helped her build back some net worth.