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This Is How Much It Costs To Be on ‘The Bachelor’

·6 min read
Paul Hebert / ABC
Paul Hebert / ABC

When Season 19 of “The Bachelorette” debuts on July 11, we’ll meet two women – yes, Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia share the starring role of the ABC franchise this summer – looking for love, and they’ll undoubtedly greet their 32 suitors in a spectacular gown specially designed for them.

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In fact, on the opening night of Season 18 of “The Bachelorette” last fall, contestant Michelle Young was outfitted in a “soft lime”-colored dress, created by Randi Rahm, a frequent show designer. It contained more than 15,000 sequins, each topped with a crystal, that took two sewers close to 700 hours to stitch, Page Six reported. The cost? While Rahm didn’t specify the price tag for Young’s dress, she told Page Six her designs can cost up to $150,000.

As the lead, Young didn’t have to pay for her high-couture garment; ABC covers the wardrobe for the starring bachelor and bachelorette, according to Page Six. Good thing. The haute-couture gown might not have fit into her budget on a teacher’s salary. But for contestants vying for the attention of the show’s lead, the clothes aren’t free. In fact, the 32 men who will meet Windey and Recchia each received an extensive packing list of things to bring – all on their dime.

Reality TV is all about high stakes, and you wouldn’t have delectable, guilty-pleasure drama without the possibility of on-screen loss. Who knew the loss for contestants on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” could be more than a broken heart – but a diminished bank account, too?

Here’s a look at what some of these contestants spend and how much they stand to make from being on this hit reality romance show.

Upfront Costs: The Dresses

There’s no entry fee to be a contestant on either show, nor is there a hard-and-fast rulebook for how much contestants spend in preparation. We can certainly identify the top three costs for women appearing on “The Bachelor,” however: wardrobe, wardrobe and wardrobe. ABC only provides two dresses for each season of the show — one for each finalist on the season finale. That means our eligible bachelorettes have to personally foot the bill for 13 episodes of TV-ready fashion.

Some ladies borrow clothes or snag sponsorships — like Ashley Spivey, who scored 14 designer dresses from a sponsor in 2011 — but others foot the bill themselves. Jillian Harris dropped $8,000 on new duds, while Olivia Caridi is rumored to have spent more than $40,000 on her wardrobe in an effort to impress “Bachelor” Ben Higgins, an investment that didn’t end up paying off. That cost doesn’t include the hundreds of dollars that contestants typically spend on new hairstyles, spray tans, gym memberships, makeup and other cosmetic touchups before the show.

Others have kept things more low-key — and their investments to a minimum — with great results. Sarah Herron kept her total budget at $5,000, while Vienna Girardi kept it casual with a whole lot of cut-off jean shorts instead of pricey designer labels. She ended up winning the ring in Season 14 from pilot-turned-“Bachelor” Jake Pavelka, but the relationship didn’t work out.

For the men, the cost isn’t as high – they can get by with a couple of suits with different shirts and ties to switch up their look instead of a dozen gowns for formalwear- but the packing list remains extensive. That’s because you aren’t sure where the journey will take you should you remain on the show for several weeks. Will you be frolicking on a beach or throwing snowballs at one another?

“You don’t know where you’re gonna go,” Wells Adams, who appeared on JoJo’s season of “The Bachelorette,” told Bustle. “Iceland? Tahiti? The moon?”

Hidden Costs: The Debt

If you were making a list of the things you’d need to be a contestant, clothes would likely be right at the top, but some major costs are a little less transparent. They arise when you consider that you’ll have to put your entire life on hold for an unpaid season — that’s six to 10 weeks’ worth — of filming.

Harris remortgaged her home to cope with the costs. And while some “Bachelor” contestants are lucky enough to return to their day jobs after filming, others have lost their jobs if they didn’t have a flexible time off schedule. Possessionista writer Dana Weiss told Mic in 2016 that she personally knows of bachelorettes who cashed out their 401k accountss to offset the costs of the show, while others have gone into substantial credit card debt.

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Potential Profits From Being on ‘The Bachelor’

On top of the initial investments and opportunity costs, contestants face another big kicker: Candidates report that they don’t receive any monetary compensation at all for appearing on the show. At best, some bachelorettes say they’ve been gifted a few swag bags containing sponsored item  — likely not enough swag to repay that “Bachelor”-incurred debt. It’s a tough pill to swallow considering that being in the role of the “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette” reportedly pays about $100,000 per season.

Emily Maynard was reportedly paid $250,000 for her season as the leading lady.

More commonly, many contestants smartly leverage their 10 minutes of fame into success as social-media influencers or lifestyle brand entrepreneurs on Instagram after “The Bachelor” wraps and the dust settles.

Many factors help determine rates for celebrity Instagram posts, but CNCB reported that if you have 5,000 Instagram followers and 308 sponsored posts, you can earn $100,000 a year.

Emily Maynard’s online lifestyle presence keeps her net worth at a cool $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, although she was wealthy before her time on the show. Ali Fedotowsky worked at Facebook before appearing on “The Bachelor” in 2010. She then went on to star as “The Bachelorette” and later found work as an NBC and E! lifestyle correspondent, maintaining a healthy net worth of $600,000. Other alumni accept plentiful offers to appear on post-“Bachelor” reality TV shows, such as Melissa Rycroft, Trista Sutter, Sean Lowe and several others who opted to foxtrot on “Dancing With the Stars.” Still, others close book deals — like Season 16 winner Courtney Robinson, who wrote “I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends” — or make the bulk of their income on social media endorsement deals alone.

Considering how much it costs to be on “The Bachelor,” aspiring bachelorettes have to ask themselves a key question: How much would you pay for a shot at love? And if that fails, how much would you pay for a shot at Instagram fame?

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Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: This Is How Much It Costs To Be on ‘The Bachelor’