How much reality TV superstars would earn if they hadn't made it big

Reality show stars are demanding lots more money as their celebrity skyrockets, threatening the original low-budget ideal of the productions, according to The New York Times. But these days, what Snooki wants, Snooki gets.

A holdout of Jersey Shore cast members reportedly resulted in an almost 800% raise per episode. The Real Housewives on Bravo's multi-city franchise are also earning much more, with New York City housewife Bethenny Frankel even spinning off her own show.

Bad behavior and a super-sized sense of entitlement have made some of the women into household names. Maybe they need a reminder of where they come from. Or more accurately, what they made. Everybody had a day job once. Let's compare what these love-'em-or-hate-'em reality gals earn -- then and now.

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

She was an obscure veterinary technician in training when she became a foul-mouthed, heavy-drinking reason to tune in toJersey Shore. The average salary for a vet tech is $14.70 an hour, according to the Department of Labor. That's beer money.

Polizzi and her fellow so-called Guidos and Guidettes now make at least $15,000 an episode, and her Q rating is climbing. Her net worth stands at around $300,000, according to, but it won't stay there as long as the MTV show continues to captivate.

Bethenny Frankel

The breakout babe of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City, pulls in $20,000 per episode. Now she has her own show, Bethenny Getting Married, in which she gets to keep the whole pot.

Even though she grew up privileged around thoroughbreds, she still spent her summers doing grunt work as a hot walker, or stablehand. Hot walkers walk the horses to cool them down after a workout. Not a lot of prospects there for a future society queen: Hot walkers can earn $22,385 a year, according to, and that's on the high side. That would take a lot of horses to build her current fortune, which is estimated at $14 million, including cookbooks and endorsements, by

Kate Gosselin
She split $22,500 a show with husband Jon Gosselin on Jon & Kate Plus 8. Let's assume she's making at least that all by herself now (with future earnings promised for the kiddies) on Kate Plus 8, TLC's followup to the Gosselin divorce. She'll surely be raking in more than her old gig as a labor and delivery nurse at the Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Reading, Pa. The mean salary for a delivery nurse is $55,000 a year, according to says Kate has a cool $3 million stashed away, augmented by her recent specials.

Heidi Montag

Montag pulled down $100,000 a show on the last season of The Hills, quite the er... enhancement over her paycheck as an event planner for Bolthouse Productions. An event planner employed by someone else can expect to make $54,060 a year, estimates.

Given that Montag is generating bigger news now as a plastic surgery addict, perhaps she'll need a chunk of her estimated net worth of $7.5 million for all those nips and tucks.

Krista White

White is one of reality's feel-good stories. She won the 14th cycle of America's Next Top Model, receiving a $100,000 CoverGirl contract, a spread in Seventeen and a deal with Wilhelmina Models.

As a former store manager for Max Azria's in Las Vegas, the Pine Bluff, Ark., native pushed her salary up handsomely for wearing clothes instead of selling them. A store manager at even a couture retailer would probably earn around $42,000 a year with commissions, says. Her net worth is anybody's guess, but we know she has the backing of banks -- Tyra Banks, the host of Top Model who gave White a chance after the show had turned her down several times.
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