Number of Reality TV Millionaires

Since the dawn of reality TV, there have been a lot of shows that offer a prize of a million dollars. Now that it’s been a few years since these shows took over television, I’m wondering how many times one of these shows has given away such a prize. In other words, how many reality-TV millionaires are there in America? What percentage of new millionaires in the last 5 years or so have gained their fortune from a TV show?

Not all of these shows give a million-dollar prize to the winner. Some, like Big Brother, have smaller prizes, so I think they should be counted separately. However, I would include high-stakes game shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Greed (but not the last season of Jeopardy, because Ken wasn’t offered a million dollars at the outset). I would include shows that give away a million to a group or team, such as The Amazing Race, as one prize.

I tried searching for this information a bit, and didn’t find anything. It seems like there’s been a whole lot of shows awarding One Million Dollars to someone, and I wonder how many times the prize has been awarded – and how long it’ll be before I get One Million Dollars and a little more than 15 minutes of fame.

(This is a factual question about something on TV, but I apologize if it should have been posted to CS.)

Well, remember that these million-dollar winners have to pay federal and state taxes, so they really only net something like $550,000. I suppose some of them are able to make wise investments that eventually earn them over a million dollars, but that doesn’t really count, does it?

So the answer to your question is probably zero. :wink:

Survivor: Borneo Winner: Richard Hatch, $1,000,000

Survivor: Australian Outback Winner: Tina Wesson, $1,000,000

Survivor: Africa Winner: Ethan Zohn, $1,000,000

Survivor: Marquesas Winner: Vecepia Towery, $1,000,000

Survivor: Thailand Winner: Brian Heidek, $1,000,000

Survivor: Amazon Winner: Jenna Morasca, $1,000,000

Survivor: Pearl Islands Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine: $1,000,000

*Survivor: All-Stars *Winner: Amber Brkitch, $1,000,000

Survivor: America’s Tribal Council Winner: Rupert Boneham, $1,000,000

Survivor: Vanuatu Winner: ???, $1,000,000

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Prime Time Winners ($1,000,000 each*)

Dan Blonsky
John Carpenter
Bernie Cullen
David Goodman
Bob House
Kim Hunt
Kevin Olmstead*
Joseph Trela

*Ken Olmstead has won $2,180,000, according to, “thanks to the show’s bonus tally.” I’m not really clear on what that means.

That makes 17 that I could find. The website for the syndicated WWTBAM with Meredith Viera does not list any information about million-dollar winners on their version (I don’t think there have been any, though). Also, I did not search for million-dollar winners of Greed. That show was only on for a few months, wasn’t it? has all winners from Game Shows, but not reality shows. But all the CBS websites for Survivor and the Amazing Race are still up.