'Teen Mom': Original Cast Members Only Made $5k an Episode

Being on Teen Mom sounds like a sweet gig. The stars just have to let producers come into their homes for a certain amount of time every year to film, and they walk away with a big paycheck. Plus, the Teen Mom parents get book deals, endorsement money, and have successful businesses. But the Teen Mom cast didn’t start off earning six figures a season. Their original salary was much, much lower than it is today.

’16 and Pregnant’ only paid their cast $5,000 

All of the Teen Mom stars started on 16 and Pregnant. The show is a docuseries. Each episode follows a different 16-year old through pregnancy and the beginning of motherhood. The show was such a hit that MTV brought some of the most popular families back for Teen Mom. The show started by following four of the teen moms, now called the OG cast. Maci Bookout, Amber Portwood, Farrah Abraham, and Catelynn Lowell. All the families were in different situations, and all had their own struggles. They all also came from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Some of the moms came from modest means and experienced financial instability.

It’s not clear how much the Teen Mom cast made in their first season, but Portwood has revealed in the past that she made $5,000 for her episode of 16 and Pregnant. It’s likely that all the 16 and Pregnant cast members made the same amount, since MTV pays all the moms the same for being on the show today, with a few exceptions. 

The ‘Teen Mom’ stars have been on TV for most of their adult lives 

$5,000 may not seem like a lot of money for the sacrifice 16 and Pregnant entails, but to a young girl with a baby on the way and limited resources, it probably seems like life changing money. Hopefully the cash MTV paid young moms helped some of them improve their situation. But the Teen Mom crew makes a lot more than that now. They reportedly make hundreds of thousands per season, although they built up to that salary. 

Brianna DeJesus only made $20,000 for her first season in 2017, so it’s likely the OG cast brought in a more modest salary in the beginning. But many the influx of cash has led to some problems. According to Debra Danielsen, Abraham’s mother, the girls were not taught how to handle their money, and it’s caused problems for a few of them.

Some of the ‘Teen Mom’ cast members are in debt 

Abraham’s mom feels MTV is to blame for the financial troubles of its cast members. Many have leveraged their fame by starting businesses and brands, but MTV doesn’t offer any support for the budding entrepreneurs. A lot of the girls do not understand the tax obligations of a new business. As a result, some of the moms owe the IRS six-figure sums.

Portwood, who revealed her first MTV paycheck was only $5,000, now owes the Federal government around $134,000. Leah Messer also owes more than $100,000. Jenelle Evans, who reportedly made $400,000 a season by the time she was finished with Teen Mom, owes more than $40,000 in state taxes. But even despite the debt, many of the cast members are doing OK financially. That doesn’t mean that anything has changed for them, however.

Although the OG cast is rumored to have made half a million dollars each for their most recent season, ending their financial troubles hasn’t really changed anything. According to Bookout, she still lives the same life she led before being on TV. The moms who had struggles still have the same issues. For example, Portwood has had substance abuse problems and anger issues since her 16 and Pregnant days. It seems like money can’t fix everything.

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