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How much do cheerleaders get paid in the Super Bowl?

Given that they two will be performing at the nation’s biggest sporting event, you’d think that cheerleaders involved in the Super Bowl would be well paid. You’d be wrong.

Oct 1, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform before the game against the New England Patriots at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin JairajUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

From the teams, to the players, to the referees, to the sponsors, performers, ticket prices and all of the surrounding festivals and tailgate parties, there is a lot of money involved in the NFL’s Super Bowl. A whole lot of money in fact, but you’d be surprised to know that very little of that cash is seen by the team’s cheerleaders. Let’s take a look at how much, or rather how little they make.

Cheerleaders are a part of the NFL

When the Kansas City Chiefs and 49ers take to the field for Super Bowl LVIII, we will all bear witness to the biggest American sporting event these is. Indeed, the NFL’s biggest game is one that even manages to attract viewers who wouldn’t normally watch a football game. While spectators will undoubtedly be focused on the game and surely the hugely famous Halftime show - led by Usher this year - there will also be performances from either team’s cheerleaders, something that we might take for granted, but is no less a part of the spectacle.

Indeed, cheerleaders have been a part of the NFL’s gameday experience since 1954 when they were first introduced. Today, 26 of the 32 NFL teams have cheerleading squads who perform at their home games; only the Bears, Bills, Browns, Giants, Steelers and Packers don’t utilize them.

How much are NFL cheerleaders paid and what about the Super Bowl?

Paid on a game-to-game business by the league, NFL supporting cheerleaders pocket approximately $150 per game and between $50 and $70 for a public appearance on behalf of their respective teams. In total, that calculates to somewhere in the realm of $22,500 annually. The word ‘supporting’ is key here, because those who have been in the league for a longer period of time are considered professional and thus, earn more. It is understood, that the more experienced women earn about $500 per game and $15-$20 per hour.

According to reports, a professional cheerleader i.e., the kind that will feature in the Super Bowl can make up to $75,000 a year. There are also bonuses connected with their teams making the playoffs, or even winning the Super Bowl itself. It’s worth noting that cheerleaders are also asked to cover the cost of their auditions, their travel expenses and even their hair, makeup and costumes.

One of the reasons why cheerleaders have such low salaries in the NFL, is because they aren’t viewed as a necessity and as such qualify as independent contractors. In addition to the skepticism surrounding what is seen as an unnecessary cost, there are also those who view the situation as a matter of ethics.

Indeed, NY Giants co-owner John Mara once reportedly said “Philosophically we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans.”