Top 10 Biggest Competition Prizes in Reality TV History

TT10 August 9, 2012 Comments Off on Top 10 Biggest Competition Prizes in Reality TV History

Love it or hate it, reality TV is with us and it seems set to stay. Over the years of its evolution, prize money has increased astronomically to the point where the rewards on offer are simply phenomenal. Here are eight of the biggest paying shows in the genre’s history.

1.       Big Brother



It may not offer the biggest prize around but many would argue that Big Brother set the trend for reality shows when it was first aired in the Netherlands back in 1999. The UK quickly adopted the format and the prize money for the first British version in 2000 was £70,000.

That sum may seem relatively small now but it was huge at the time and in the years that have followed, the figures have increased to the point where the US winner of Big Brother is set to pocket $500,000.

2.The Apprentice



The first versions of The Apprentice were first aired in the US back in 2004 and featured multi billionaire and businessman Donald Trump. Once again, the UK quickly caught on and Sir Alan Sugar took over Trump’s role.

The original concept offered a six figure salaried position in Sugar’s empire but as the series evolved, Lord Sugar, as he became, offered a staggering quarter of a million pound investment into a 50/50 venture.

That figure alone is incredible but the potential rewards for a successful partnership should comfortably exceed the £1 million mark.

3. Britain’s Got Talent



‘BGT’ was first shown in the UK in 2007 and was won by Opera singer Paul Potts who, unlike many reality TV winners, progressed to maintain a successful singing career after the show.

Fast forward to 2012 and the prize money had increased to an impressive £500,000. That major reward was scooped by novelty dog act Pudsey and her owner Ashleigh. After the final, Ashleigh claimed that she would be spending her winnings on more dog food for her successful sidekick.

4. The X Factor



X Factor was launched in the UK in 2004 as the brainchild of infamous entrepreneur and media mogul Simon Cowell. As the programme developed, the prize money increased to the stage where it promised a £1 million recording contract.

The figures were astounding but controversy arose when the show’s organisers had to explain that the winner was given a cash advance of around £100,000 while much of the prize fund was spent on marketing and recording costs. Nevertheless, this is still a life changing prize for the winner.

 5. American Idol



Many will argue that the UK’s X Factor was merely a copy of American Idol which first appeared on US screens in 2002. The show would also claim that they were the first to offer a $1 million recording contract although the same provisos apply in regard to the deduction of additional costs.

However, American Idol is viewed by most as the more lucrative of the two shows simply because of the increased audience over in the States.

6. Survivor



There is some dispute as to which show offered the first $1 million dollar prize but the US version of Survivor is certainly one of the oldest to provide a seven figure sum.

First aired in 2000, the prize is given to the contestant who survives on a desert island while performing a series of tasks.

7. Britain’s Next Top Model



A pattern continues here with a show that originally aired in the US. Those not familiar with the format may know it purely for the perceived ‘bitchiness’ of the contestants but behind the tantrums is a serious prize.

A first professional modelling contract is seen by many as the equivalent, at least, of anything that X Factor or American Idol can offer.

8. Tontine



The reality show that never was, promised contestants the biggest reward in the history of television. A $10 million fund was supposedly put up by Rob Mariano, reality TV winner and veteran of such shows as Survivor and Temptation Island.

Mariano announced the launch in a 2007 press conference but following reports that he punched a potential competitor during an audition, the plans were shelved and the project seems to have disappeared completely.

9. Project Runway



First airing in the US back in 2004, Project Runway has become one of the most popular and long running reality shows around. Despite changing hands between several different TV networks, supermodel Heidi Klum has remained constant as the glamorous host of the show. Winners don’t receive a cash prize, but a $100,000 grant to start their own fashion line, editorial features in staple titles such as Elle and Marie Claire magazine, and a $50,000 technology suite from Hewlett-Packard.

10. America’s Got Talent

America's Got Talent


A $1 million prize is nothing to be sniffed at however it arrives, but winners of America’s Got Talent have the option to take their winnings at $25,000 per year for 40 years. Financial security for life!

Author Bio:

This post was written by Ben Skinner the Marketing Director of UK competitions site MyOffers. MyOffers are a free online competition site offering cars, holidays and cash prizes. Visit them at

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