Considering how much time NFL cheerleaders commit to their teams and considering how much NFL franchises are worth, it is hard to believe they make so little.
Sometimes cheerleading requires arriving at games five hours prior to prepare for their performance or spending 30-40 hours a week in practice, and yet, they are paid significantly less than anyone else involved at the stadium.
In fact, they don’t just make little, they make minimum wage. Fifteen-year-old lifeguards who just started their first job earn the same amount of money as these cheerleaders who spend 14-hour days in the stadium and most of their lives on buses to and from games.
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In 2021, NFL cheerleaders finally took a stand and rose to the occasion, filing lawsuits to help their cause.
With the 2022-23 season on the way, let’s take a look at what NFL cheerleaders make today and why it is so little:
How much does an average NFL cheerleader make per game?
Surprisingly, NFL cheerleaders do not earn as much as you might think. On average, the cheerleaders earn about $150 per game. This comes out to about $22,500 per year.
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They also receive anywhere from $50 to $75 if they are featured for a public appearance. Therefore, the more you strut your stuff on camera, the more you get paid.
How much do the highest-paid NFL cheerleaders make?
If we are not talking about averages, the most cheerleaders usually make is approximately $500 per match. That is, if you’re a popular, well-known squad.
For instance, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, aka America’s Sweethearts, who happen to be one of the most popular groups in the NFL, earn about $15-20 per hour, or $500 per match. Therefore, their yearly salary comes out to about $75,000.
Similarly, the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders’, otherwise known as the Carolina TopCats, are paid $75,000 yearly.
Why do NFL cheerleaders earn so little?
Technically the reason for this is because cheerleaders for the NFL, and the NBA for that matter, are independent contractors. This means the teams are not necessarily required to pay the cheerleaders salaries in line with state and federal minimum wages.
As a result, NFL cheerleaders, who used to earn as little as $5 per hour at one point in time, have been posing a fight for decades.
In 2021, a series of lawsuits brought about by these cheerleaders caused 10 out of 26 NFL teams to be sued for wage theft, unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment and discrimination.
The lawsuits included teams such as the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay cheerleaders’ lawsuit settled for a reported $825,000, and the Cincinnati cheerleaders’ settled for a reported $255,000, according to the Expert Institute.
Since then, a national conversation erupted involving the exploitation of women in sports, and now cheerleaders are respected and paid a bit more -- but still not as much as they should be.
How much do NFL cheerleaders make in comparison to other participants on the field?
NFL cheerleaders tend to make about $150 per game, or $22,500 per year, on average.
Meanwhile, NFL waterboys usually make $53,000 per year and NFL mascots make $25,000 per season.
How much do NFL cheerleaders make in comparison to NFL players?
There is a major disparity between the minimum wage earnings of an NFL cheerleader and an NFL player.
On average, an NFL player makes about $2 million per season. But remember, this is an average salary. Most of the players we know and love make way beyond that, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will be making $150 million over the next three years ($50.3 million per year), as well as Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who makes $46.1 million per season.
How much do NFL cheerleaders make in comparison to NFL coaches?
NFL coaches can make up to about $7 million per season. But again, this is only an average.
When it comes to coaches and players, all I can say is: cha–ching!
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay makes upwards of $18 million per season, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick makes $12.5 million, and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll makes $11 million.