How Do Participants Make Money On My 600-Lb Life?

It's not impossible for reality TV stars to rake in the cash. Just look at the Kardashians, who were making approximately $100 million during their final days on E! (via Variety), and the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," some of whom earned $150,000 per episode on the original series (via In Touch).

But what about the individuals who appear on TLC, the ones who don't have celebrity status but put their real-life struggles out there for the world to see? Many are especially curious about the participants of "My 600-lb Life," which chronicles a person's wellness journey over the course of an episode or two. Often, "My 600-lb Life" stars are either bed-bound or unable to leave the house due to their weight and lack of mobility. Therefore, it's practically impossible for them to work a typical 9-to-5 job in an office or store environment.

Still, the majority are shown on-camera ordering vast amounts of fast food, which means they have some sort of income. Additionally, bariatric surgery can cost upwards of $23,000 without health insurance (via Baptist Health). Let's take a look at how the participants of "My 600-lb Life" make money.

My 600-lb Life participants make money through TLC and side gigs

The individuals who appear on "My 600-lb Life" might not be bringing in the big Kardashian bucks, but they are compensated for their time on the show. After dedicating a year of their life to filming and having their most vulnerable moments captured on camera, these unlikely TV stars are paid $1,500 per episode (via Starcasm). Reportedly, the network also pays for one year of visits, including bariatric surgery, to Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.

In an interview with Insider, an agent explained that this paycheck is pretty typical: "For those docu-ensembles, especially if they're nobodies, per episode it ranges from low-end, like $1,500 an episode, to $3,000 at the high end. And then after three years of success, it can go up to $7,000 to $10,000 an episode. After that, you start moving into the Kardashian level."

Prior to appearing on the show, some "My 600-lb Life" stars found ways to earn money from home, but the jobs weren't always ideal. While Penny Saeger utilized her crafting skills to make and sell jewelry, according to her niece, others like Zsalynn Whitworth turned to web-cam modeling for websites (via ABC News). 

After undergoing bypass surgery and improving their health, many of Dr. Now's patients launch exciting careers. This includes Marla McCants, who is now a motivational speaker, and Nikki Webster, who sells earrings through her FreckleFlowerClay shop on Etsy.