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Why Do the Filthy Rich Choose to Appear on Reality Shows?

The Big Picture

  • Sutton Stracke’s substantial wealth doesn’t deter her from participating in the drama-filled dynamics of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, as she seeks fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment beyond financial security.
  • The fame and exposure that come with being on a successful TV show like The Real Housewives attract wealthy women like Stracke, who value the opportunity to become household names and expand their influence.
  • Financial security plays a significant role in the decision of wealthy women to stay or leave the show, as shown by examples like Bethenny Frankel, who left Real Housewives of New York after amassing a fortune through her own business ventures.


Sutton Stracke is undoubtedly the wealthiest woman on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and one of the richest women on Bravo TV, boasting a net worth of $50 million. Given Stracke’s substantial financial standing, one might question why she willingly exposes herself to the catfights, insults, and vicious verbal attacks from some of her fellow cast members. Viewers witnessed an uncomfortable incident when Diana Jenkins, worth a staggering $300 million, directed derogatory language, including the term “c–t,” towards Stracke. Additionally, Erika Jayne, angered by suggestions about her involvement in her estranged husband Tom Girardi‘s embezzlement allegations, used her sharp tongue on Stracke. In response to Jayne’s threats, Stracke took the step of hiring security for her protection.

Stracke reportedly earns $100,000 per season on the reality show, which is relatively modest for Stracke, considering she receives $300,000 per month in spousal support from her ex-husband, Christian Stracke, whom she shares three children with. This is just one aspect of her divorce settlement in 2016, which also includes $1,235,000 in cash, multiple homes in Los Angeles, Augusta, Georgia, and an apartment in Venice, Italy. Stracke was granted ownership of luxury vehicles, a partial stake in two minor league baseball teams, and a share in a lumber company, among other assets.

Given her considerable wealth, one might wonder why such an affluent woman would subject herself to the dynamics of a group of women who are not always cordial and nice. The answer is straightforward and resonates with the reason many successful individuals, be it in business or entertainment, continue working: the pursuit of fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. The wealthy seek more than just financial security for themselves and their descendants; they crave ongoing purpose and achievement.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Release Date
October 14, 2010

Cast
Kyle Richards, Adrienne Maloof, Camille Grammer, Lisa Vanderpump

Main Genre
Reality-TV

Genres
Reality TV

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
13


Being Rich is Fun, but Being on a Successful Reality TV Show Gives You Fame

Heather Dubrow season 17 official Bravo press release cast photo
Image via Bravo

Fame also holds its allure. The Real Housewives franchise stands as one of the most successful reality shows on television, providing exposure and celebrity status to wealthy women unknown before. The platform offers a unique pathway to becoming a household name, something wealth cannot buy. Stracke is not the sole multi-millionaire in the franchise. Other notable housewives, such as Heather Dubrow from The Real Housewives of Orange County, who boast a net worth of $90 million, with an annual income of $7 million, an inherited trust fund of $12 million, and significant property holdings. Dubrow also commands $300,000 per season for her appearance on the show. Another former Beverly Hills star, Lisa Vanderpump, didn’t necessarily need the $500,000 per season she earned, in addition to another $500,000 for Vanderpump Rules. Her net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth, is estimated at $90 million.

RELATED: The ‘Real Housewives’ Franchise Is Headed Toward a Downfall

Vanderpump’s residence, Villa Rosa, is valued at over $20 million. She and her husband, Ken Todd, continue to generate wealth from real estate and their restaurants in Los Angeles, Villa Blanca, Pump, TomTom – and in Las Vegas: Vanderpump à Paris, and Vanderpump Cocktail Garden. In Season 9 of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump left the show amidst a feud with most of her castmates, particularly Kyle Richards, Kemsley, and Lisa Rinna. Allegations surfaced that Vanderpump leaked a story involving Kemsley giving up a dog adopted from Vanderpump Dogs to another family, which ultimately placed the dog in a “kill shelter.” Some argue that the pressure to create compelling storylines on the show pushes cast members to engage in questionable actions. RHOBH executive producer Chris Cullen concurs, stating, “When Lisa lost the narrative in the show, and she realized that it wasn’t going the way she wanted, that’s when she leaked the story to the press.” While Vanderpump and other affluent ladies featured on the show possess the financial means to depart at any time, some choose to stay despite less-than-ideal portrayals. Take Jayne, for instance; she remains on the show because such lucrative opportunities without very much effort are hard to come by.

It’s Easier to Stay or Go When You Have $100 Million

Bethenny Frankel RHONY
Image via Bravo

The departure becomes significantly more manageable when you’re financially secure, and you no longer crave attention. An example of this is Bethenny Frankel. This former Real Housewives of New York participant featured in the first three seasons initially ranked as the least affluent cast member — a fact she openly acknowledged. The show provided her with an incredible platform to showcase her liquor brand, “Skinnygirl,” which she sold in 2009 for an estimated $100 million. Although she left the show, she returned for seasons seven to eleven.

Frankel’s substantial success undeniably demonstrated to other housewives the potential benefits of being on the show, prompting many to promote their products within its framework. Bravo now takes a 10% cut of any profit the housewives make if they launch a business while on the show. due to a clause inspired by Frankel’s success. Once Frankel amassed her fortune, leaving RHONY became an easier decision. It was evident she was no longer enjoying the company of a group of women she didn’t genuinely like, and participating in the show seemed more burdensome for her and, at times, even boring. It came to a point where Frankel had nothing left to gain from being on the show and called it quits.

Yolanda Hadid and Lisa Vanderpump Had Enough of The Drama

Yolanda-Hadid-and-Lisa-Vanderpump
Image via Bravo

Several of the wealthiest women who graced the franchise are no longer part of the series, and their departure wasn’t due to being fired but rather because participation became too painful, stressful or embarrassing for them. The list includes: Camille Grammer, boasting a net worth of $50 million. Yolanda Hadid, with an estimated wealth of $45 million. Adrienne Maloof, estimated to be worth $60 million. Lea Black, whose net worth is estimated at $85 million. Carlton Elizabeth, with an estimated wealth of $100 million. Kathy Hilton, a friend of the cast, holding an estimated fortune of $350 million.

It’s evident that the primary reason many housewives endure spending time with women they can’t stand is because they haven’t yet achieved what they are seeking — whether it’s sufficient financial gain, business deals, or other aspirations they may have. For a few of them, no doubt, the allure may lie in simply enjoying being on the show and being recognized, despite enduring unpleasant encounters, scrutiny, or being embroiled in scandals or secrets they aim to protect. And who knows, maybe they even enjoy having a front row seat to some of the best dramas played on reality TV.

All Housewives franchises are currently being streamed on Peacock US.

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