Bethenny Frankel is speaking her truth.
Earlier this week, The Real Housewives of New York City alum took to social media to share the stunningly low (by comparison) salary she earned for Season 1 of the now-hit Bravo franchise.
The revelation shocked Bravo viewers and sparked a conversation about wealth, authenticity, and “privilege” in the world of reality TV.
On Sunday, the famously outspoken Bravo alum shared a TikTok video discussing her Season 1 contract and the financial aspects of her work in reality TV.
While the highest-paid Real Housewives – including fan-favorite RHOA star NeNe Leakes and RHONJ’s Teresa Giudice – now earn millions of dollars per season, Bethenny revealed that she made only $7,200 for RHONY’s entire first season.
That means the Skinnygirl founder earned just over $800 for each of the season’s nine episodes.
“The contract said $7,250, which I did not dispute. I was a nobody. That was a lot of money to me,” the Bravo alum said.
Bethenny Frankel’s RHONY contract ‘changed the industry’
In her TikTok video, Bethenny also took viewers inside the little-seen process of contract negotiations, revealing the one forward-thinking move that she claimed changed the whole industry.
While the Bravo alum was admittedly “not a businessperson,” she did have the sense to “cross out” a provision in the contract that would have shared profits from her future business ventures with the TV network.
While she “had nothing” at the time, Bethenny said, “I understood conceptually that that was wrong and that I was going places.”
Of course, she turned out to be right. In 2011, Bethenny sold Skinnygirl Cocktail – the cocktail arm of her highly successful Skinnygirl business empire – to Fortune Brands’ Beam Global for an estimated $100 million.
After that, Bethenny said Bravo execs “woke up,” and created “what is now referred to by the industry” as the “Bethenny Clause.”
The provision, she explained, means that “anybody going on reality TV has to give a percentage” of their outside business earnings “to the powers that be.”
Though she’d had no formal training or prior experience in contract negotiations, the Bravo alum said, that one move “changed my entire life and it changed the entertainment industry.”
The moral of the story, Bethenny went on, is that “you are smarter than you think.”
Bravo fans talk ‘privilege’ after salary revelation
In Bethenny’s TikTok comments section, her followers cheered the Bravo alum’s smart deal-making and her great work on the show.
One commenter wrote that Bethenny had been “underpaid” for “carrying the show” during her time on RHONY.
“You weren’t paid nearly enough to have to deal with Ramona,” another person joked.
But when the video was reshared to a Real Housewives fan forum on Reddit, others were more critical.
Many pointed out that Bethenny – who went to boarding school in Florida before attending NYU, and whose father was the internationally famous champion thoroughbred racehorse trainer Robert Frankel – has never exactly struggled to put food on the table.
“I hate this narrative she’s built for herself,” one Reddit user wrote, adding that Bethenny “grew up privileged” and “was never under any circumstances poor.”
“It’s not like she started RHONY working as a cook at an IHOP,” another pointed out.
The Real Housewives of New York City is currently on hiatus.