When reality TV isn't showcasing the wealth of the rich and famous (think back to the days of The OC before even The Hills and The Real Housewives) it's inevitably portraying the lives of the soon-to-be rich and famous.
Reality TV stars are bringing in thousands of dollars per episode--their pay checks rarely reflecting any real talent, but more the hard earned result of life decisions, like teen pregnancies, large and unusual family dynamics, questionable backwoods lifestyles and excessive partying.
Although reality TV fame doesn't guarantee a successful career in the spotlight, an increasing amount of today's "stars" are getting their big breaks on networks like MTV and TLC. And many are capitalizing on their fifteen minutes, using their now famous names for book deals, advertisement gigs, speaking engagements and music careers.
A small slice of the "talent" below is just that, actual talent. But most of these now wealthy celebrities made their money the new-fashioned way: living out their unique lifestyles for all of us at home to watch.
10 Heidi Montag - Net Worth $100,000
9 Kody Brown and the Sisterwives - Net Worth $300 Thousand
8 Honey Boo Boo - Net Worth $300 Thousand
7 Farrah Abraham- Net Worth $325 Thousand
Star of MTV's 16 and Pregnant and four seasons of Teen Mom, Farrah Abraham, from Council Bluff's, Iowa, was cast on the show after she became pregnant with her high school boyfriend. Eight months into her pregnancy he was killed in a car accident. Her tumultuous life and relationship with her mom has made for great tabloid drama, but the Teen Mom exceeded controversial expectations by starring in a sex tape with adult film actor James Deen, titled Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom. Abraham has since released the sequel to her tape, and also appeared on the fourth season of Couples Therapy as an individual, released an album and a book, called My Teenage Dream Ended. She is now working on her third adult film. At 23 years old, Abraham has a net worth of $325,000.
6 Austin "Chumlee" Russell - Net Worth $600 Thousand
5 Melissa Rycroft- Net Worth $1.5 Million
Bachelor winner Melissa Rycroft on Jason Mesnick's season who was subsequently dumped in the after the final rose ceremony didn't let her heartbreak destroy her career. Rycroft has made a career out of reality TV, originally starring as a cheer leading contestant on Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. After her Bachelor fame, she went on to compete in Dancing With the Stars. Rycroft is now married to wealthy business man Tye Strickland with two children. She is worth $1.5 million.
4 Jenni "JWoww" Farley - Net Worth $2.6 Million
3 Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi - Net Worth $5 Million
2 Kate Gosselin- Net Worth $9 Million
Kate Gosselin, a former Registered Nurse, rose to stardom after giving birth to two sets of multiples, twins and then sextuplets. Her and ex-husband John Gosselin starred in reality show on TLC John and Kate Plus 8 for five seasons, when it was renamed Kate Plus 8 after they divorced. In addition to their show, the duo made money from appearances, and Kate has published three books and a cookbook. Kate is worth approximately $9 million.
1 Carrie Underwood - Net Worth $70 Million
It's easy to forget that this superstar got her big break on the reality TV show American Idol. Although the show has produced several big winners, Underwood is by far the most known and successful. The beautiful blonde country singer grew up in Checotah, Oklahoma, singing in her church until her senior year of High School when she tried out for American Idol in St. Louis, Missouri. The sweet, small town country singer, won not only the hearts of fans with her innocent appeal and larger than life vocals, but won the entire 2005 show. Underwood has become a country fixture, now worth a cool $70 million.
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