Contestants on 'Naked and Afraid' Are Only Paid for Missing Work

Leila Kozma - Author

Dec. 11 2023, Updated 12:41 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Unlike some reality TV shows that award winners with a hefty bag, Naked and Afraid contestants don't receive any prize money.
  • Their flight and a two-night hotel stay is reportedly covered by the production team.
  • It's also said they receive $5,000 in cash to cover lost wages.
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Extreme temperatures, bug bites, and contracting potentially life-threatening conditions like dengue fever are just some of the issues the contestants of Naked and Afraid have to face.

The show is an intense survival challenge, stripping participants of all items but one and their clothes for 21 days. For such a severe process, many fans wonder: how much do contestants make on Naked and Afraid, if anything? Here's what we know!

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How much do the contestants make on 'Naked and Afraid'?

Naked and Afraid shows everyday people at their most vulnerable. There's no shortage of chilling urban legends detailing the dreadful experiences some Naked and Afraid stars had to go through. Do they receive money in exchange for their efforts, or ...?

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Unlike the winners of Survivor, who receive the handsome sum of $1 million, those appearing on Naked and Afraid are more likely to be motivated by the prospect of being able to live to tell the tale. It's understood that Naked and Afraid contestants don't receive any prize money. According to a rumor, however, they might receive a stipend to get them through the 21 days far away from civilization.

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The production team reportedly covers the flights, two nights in a hotel, and $5,000 in cash to compensate for lost wages, as per Nicki Swift.

As casting director Kristi Russell explained in a previous interview with Channel Guide Magazine, some contestants also receive training before being sent to a mystery location with only a radio transmitter and a bag to see them through three weeks' worth of intense mental and physical challenges.

"We gave them each the amount of training that they would need so that they would be able to survive out there, so fire, shelter, and water," Kristi told the outlet in a 2015 interview. "Those are the three basic survival tools that you need to have to have a chance, and that’s what we really focused on."

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With so little reward for such high risk, viewers might question why contestants are willing to go on the show in the first place. In an interview with Reality Tidbit, Season 2 contestant Jeff Zausch explains, "What I always say is ‘This is who we are. This is what we are made of’. Some people were made to be race car drivers. Some people were, you know, made to be CEOs of companies. We were made to push the limits of what’s humanly possible."

Contestants on 'Naked and Afraid XL' get paid more money for their trouble.

According to outlet The Things, contestants on Naked and Afraid XL get slightly more compensation in exchange for double the amount of time spent in the wilderness. The Things notes that Naked and Afraid XL contestants are rewarded with $24,000 for their extra time spent battling the elements.

Stream episodes of Naked and Afraid on Hulu or Discovery Plus.

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