Dancing With The Stars Judge’s Salaries: Here’s How Much They Each Make

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It pays to work in reality TV and the Dancing With The Stars judges’ salaries are all the proof we need. Dancing With the Stars, which premiered in June 2005, has aired on ABC for more than 30 seasons and has seen hundreds of celebrities take to the dance floor since. But the premise for the beloved dancing competition dates back even before that.

DWTS is the American version of the British television series, Strictly Come Dancing, which started airing on the BBC in 2004. Since its premiere, the Dancing With the Stars franchise has expanded to over 74 countries, including India, Brazil, France, New Zealand, and many more.

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The competition is pretty straightforward: Celebrities are paired with professional ballroom dancers, and together they practice themed choreographed routines each week. The pairs then go on to perform their routines in front of a panel of judges, who each score their performances on a scale of one to 10. Viewers in the audience and at home are also given a chance to place their votes for their favorite dancers.

These votes by the judges and viewers are combined, and the couple with the lowest cumulative score is eliminated. This process continues for each round until the final when one couple is finally declared the winner and takes home the Mirrorball Trophy. Now that we know exactly how Dancing With the Stars works, we can dive into those Dancing With the Stars judges’ salaries.

What are the Dancing With The Stars judges salaries?

Here’s everything we know.

Carrie Ann Inaba

Salary: $250,000 to $1.2 million

Seasons: 1 to present

Again, Carrie Ann Inaba’s salary for Dancing With The Stars as a judge hasn’t been publicly revealed but she is one of the OG judges so we figure tenure works in her favor. In the early days of DWTS, The Sun reported that judges made $250,000 per season. Given her net worth of $9 million, we like can assume that, like Derek, her salary is on the higher end of the spectrum. However, PayWizard.org reported that her salary is $250,000, but we don’t know where those figures are coming from.

Derek Hough

Salary: $1.2 million

Seasons as a dancer: 4 to 11, 13 to 23, 29 to 30
As a judge: 31 to present

It hasn’t been publicly disclosed how much Derek Hough is paid for his role on Dancing With The Stars. As a dancer, his salary was believed to be capped at around $100,000 per season. As a judge, however, reports according to TheThings.com suggest that the DWTS star can be making as much as $1.2 million per season. Given Hough’s tenure at the show and his estimated net worth of $8 million, we can only assume his paycheck is at the higher end of the scale.

Bruno Tonioli

Salary: $250,000 to $1.2 million

Seasons: 1 to present

Bruno Tonioli has been a judge since the show’s US inception in 2005 but his salary has never been disclosed. He’s also a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, and if his £850,000 (a little over $1 million at the time of writing) paycheck is anything to go by, chances are it’ll be matched at DWTS. His move from Strictly Come Dancing tripled his salary, according to The Sun. “He’s managed to triple his UK Strictly salary and beat off strong competition from favourite-for-the-job Alan Carr, who is friends with a lot of the cast and crew,” a source told the tabloid.

Len Goodman

Salary: $1.2 million

Seasons: 1 to 21; 22 to 28; 30 to 31

Len Goodman served as head judge during his time on Dancing With The Stars. For season 29, Goodman was unable to travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus Derek Hough stepped in and, according to one source quoted by The Sun: “Really knocked it out of the park.”

The tabloid also reported that while on Dancing With The Stars, Goodman was said to have started on a salary of $125K for the first season, which over the years went up to $1.2 million. His salary on the UK’s Strictly Come Dancing was said to have been around $317,000 as head judge.

Goodman passed away in April 2023 from bone cancer at age 78. His agent Jackie Gill said in a statement: “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78. A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.” His net worth at death was estimated to be $18 million.

Julianne Hough

Salary: $500,000

Seasons as a professional dancer: 4 to 8
Seasons as a judge and guest judge: 17 to 21; 23 to 25; 30
Seasons as host: 32

Julianne Hough began her career with Dancing with the Stars as a professional dancer, which would’ve put her salary at around $100,000. When she graduated to judge, she was reportedly earning $500,000 per season. While her salary as co-host hasn’t been revealed, Tom Bergeron—who hosted the show from season 1 to 15—was reportedly earning around $150,000 per episode during his time as host. With 10 to 12 episodes per season, he would have made between $1.5 and $1.8 million a season.

How much do Dancing With the Stars contestants make?

How much do Dancing With the Stars contestants make?
How much do Dancing With the Stars contestants make?

Dancing With the Stars contestants are estimated to receive a starting salary of $125,000, according to Variety. This salary includes their rehearsal period, which takes place for 20 hours a week for several weeks before the start of the season, along with the first two weeks of their competition on the show. But their earnings don’t have to stop there.

For stars who make it past the first two weeks of the competition, they can expect to see their salary increased biweekly. Celebs who make it to weeks three and four get an additional $10,000 per week, while those who make it to week five get a bonus of $15,000. Weeks six and seven bring an added $20,000 per week. Those who last until weeks eight and nine receive an extra $30,000 per week.

Things get even sweeter for those lucky enough to make it to the semi-finals and the finale. According to multiple reports over the years, celebrities at this stage in the competition bring home an additional $50,000, plus the Mirror Ball trophy if they win the competition. Altogether, these weekly bonuses can add up to over $360,000 depending on the length of the season. However, according to one report by Variety, the most a contestant can make in the competition has been capped at $295,000 as of 2020.

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