What Does An NFL Cheerleader Make? (Not What You Would Think)
By Ryan Velez
Pro athletes are well known for bringing home top dollar for their efforts in the game, and the NFL is one of the biggest money-bringers overall, especially in the U.S. However, a staple of every football game, from high-school to the pros, cheerleaders are often seen and enjoyed, but rarely are the subject of much attention beyond that. Celebrity Net Worth recently investigated NFL cheerleaders and what they bring in, and despite their prominence, the answers are pretty surprising.
To provide a bit of background info, The 1954 Baltimore Colts were the first NFL team to showcase cheerleaders on the sidelines. Today, 26 out of 32 NFL teams have a cheerleading squad. At the moment, the Baltimore Ravens are the only team with a male cheerleader. Cheerleader salaries are notoriously kept under wraps, and part of the reason is that they bring in next to nothing, even as the teams they cheer for make hundreds of millions of dollars every year. In fact, an Applebee’s waitress probably makes more. The more experienced cheerleaders can make about $1,000 to $1,500 a month but this is not the norm. Closer to the average is $500 to $750 a season, with two preseason games and eight home regular season games. To put this in comparison, mascots earn between $23,000 and $65,000 per year, and practice squad players make about $100,000 per season.
While being ridiculously underpaid seems like an insult enough, it’s important to note that being an NFL cheerleader is not necessarily easy or cheap to break into. Most cheerleaders need to purchase their own uniform, spend a lot of time practicing, and are most likely working other jobs on top of their commitments as a cheerleader. Practice time is not compensated by the way. Sometime, cheerleaders have the potential to earn extra from paid public appearances, like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders' Show Group.
At this point, it may be mind-boggling why cheerleaders would go to such lengths to take part in this. Well, for one, there is a chance for these young women with cheer and stunt backgrounds to take part in one of the most visible examples of their craft, which they do enjoy. More practically, being an NFL cheerleader can lead for great opportunities to network, potentially landing that big-paying job in the future. However, their paychecks are not reflecting their value, with cheerleaders being treated as if this is a hobby versus a career.