If like me, you’re a massive fan of the Nat Geo TV series Wicked Tuna, you might have watched all the hard work these guys put in and wondered how much money they make.
You have to assume that the captains make the most money per episode, with the deckhands on a lower salary… but I decided to find out for real. Here’s what I discovered when searching for “how much do the guys on Wicked Tuna make” per episode:
How much do the Wicked Tuna cast get paid?
When the TV show first started, the guys on Wicked Tuna would make around $2,000 to $3,000 per boat, per episode. As the series has grown in popularity, they cast on Wicked Tuna now make and get paid closer to $10,000 dollars per episode. Some of the big stars are rumored to get paid as much as $100,000 per show.
So that’s the short answer.
But I wanted to dig in a little further to this investigation on pay, salary, wages, and net worth. If you continue to read, I’ve discovered some individual salary estimates for some of the better known first mates, the cast, deckhands, and captains plus some annual salaries too.
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How much do the guys on Wicked Tuna make per episode?
The first thing I found was a post on a tuna fishing forum from a person who claims to know some of the guys on the Wicked Tuna Nat Geo TV series.
Here’s what the anonymous poster wrote when asked if anyone knew how much money the Wicked Tuna team get paid for each episode:
“I know a couple of the guys on Wicked Tuna. They told me that for the first few seasons they got paid virtually nothing to appear on the TV series. Bear in mind, the captains have to deal with the aggravation of a TV crew on the boat when they are trying to catch tuna for a living, but they learn to cope with it, with the hope it will pay off big time in the future.”
However, I am not so sure that’s entirely accurate, as I’ve read press reports which I trust more that say each tuna boat on Wicked Tuna gets about $2,000 to $3,000 per episode.
More recent press reports I found have now updated that figure to be more in the $10,000-dollar range for each tuna fishing boat.
I would hazard a guess that the captains make the most money from this split, with the first mate and deckhands receiving smaller increments of money.
That might not sound like a lot when you consider how many crew members are on board, the equipment needed, and so on – but these guys were tuna fishing before the TV crews turned up, so it’s certainly a great earner, and gives them a lot more exposure plus opportunities to increase their earnings.
In fact, the most popular captains and characters from Wicked Tuna have gone on to build media careers, and now also earn money for endorsements, appearances, tuna fishing charter bookings, and all the free gear given to them by sponsors.
Did you know? Sandro Maniaci, the first mate on the FV-Tuna.com boat is reported to get paid an annual salary of $100,000 on the Wicked Tuna TV series.
How much does Wicked Tuna cast make?
When the crew and deckhands first start out on the Wicked Tuna boats, it’s said that they will just get their standard work pay, with no money for a TV appearance.
However, as the Nat Geo producers progress with the TV series, they will pick out people who make for good TV, making stars of them in the process.
So how much do Wicked Tuna cast members make?
As deckhands graduate from being tuna fishermen to also jobbing actors their pay will increase. Estimates reporting that the cast of Wicked Tuna can make around $1,500 each per episode. The captains will earn a lot more than the normal cast members.
How much money do the captains make on Wicked Tuna per episode?
But what about the skippers, and how much does National Geographic pay the Wicked Tuna captains per episode?
National Geographic pay Wicked Tuna captains a lot of money. Dave Carraro, captain of FV-Tuna.com on Wicked Tuna is said to make $83,000 per episode. TJ Ott, the captain of Hot Tuna is said so make $100,000 per episode of the National Geographic TV series. What other captains make per Wicked Tuna episode is unknown.
As part of the research into how much the Wicked Tuna captains get paid, I found another forum post from someone who claims to have met one of the captains personally. Here’s what he said:
“I actually ran into one of the more controversial captains from Wicked Tuna whilst on my local dock. He told me that he was just about to start his second season on the TV show and had just been handed a check for $100,000.”
Net worth estimates of Wicked Tuna captains
I also stumbled across a website which shows the net worth of celebrities, and they had a section on the Wicked Tuna captains plus some of the key players.
Whilst this doesn’t show much money the captains make on Wicked Tuna per episode, it does give some indication to what they may have earned over the last few series.
- Dave Carraro (captain of FV-Tuna.com) – $600,000 net worth
- TJ Ott (captain of the Hot Tuna) – $500,000 net worth
- Dave Marciano (captain of Hard Merchandise) – $500,000 net worth
- Tyler McLaughlin (captain of the Pin Wheel) – $400,000 net worth
- Paul Hebert (captain of the FV-MISS SAMBUCA) – $400,000 net worth
- Sandro Maniaci (first mate on the FV-Tuna.com) – $350,000 net worth
- Kevin Leonowert (captain of the Christina) – $250,000 net worth
- Greg Chorebanian (captain of the Kristiana) – salary and net worth unknown
- Ralph Wilkins (first mate on The Odysea) – salary and net worth unknown
- Kit Vallee (first mate on The Odysea) – salary and net worth unknown
- Jason Muenzner (first mate on Hard Merchandise) – salary and net worth unknown
- Bill Monte (captain of the Bounty Hunter) – salary and net worth unknown
When you consider that a tuna boat from Wicked Tuna can cost upwards of 6 figures, they certainly could do with that amount of money to simply help them work from day to day.
Here’s an article I researched on how much a Wicked Tuna boat costs to buy and operate giving you can idea on what costs tuna fishermen need to account for.
How do their salaries compare to The Deadliest Catch?
The Deadliest Catch is far more popular (and dangerous) compared to Wicked Tuna, and the pay scales from the TV production is said to be much more for the crab fishermen.
I’ve put together a guide to pay which tells you how much deckhands on Deadliest Catch can make.
If Wicked Tuna gets to the same level of Deadliest Catch, then I can see salaries and earnings shooting up soon.
Handy Hint: I also looked into what the prizes were on offer for coming first place. Read what I found out about what the winners of Wicked Tuna get.
The Bait, a spin-off TV show from Deadliest Catch has a few one-hour specials, then the captains also started to develop their own merchandise and increased personal appearances.
These factors alone will vastly inflate their earning potential, and it’s likely the Wicked Tuna guys are getting paid now to do similar things.
The last word…
I hope this has given you a better understanding on what the guys on Wicked Tuna get paid for each episode, how much the captains make, what the deckhands earn, and some of their possible annual salaries – you might also want to know how long the tuna fishing season lasts each year.
When a TV show like this first starts up, the payments won’t be that great.
However, if like Deadliest Catch and Wicked Tuna, a show really takes off and becomes popular, the wages and endorsements can really take off.
But, as with anything, they will need to take care of their money!
There was a recent news report about how Paul Hebert was fined $58,000 by the local government in Gloucester, Massachusetts for claiming he was so disabled he was unable to work, drive, walk properly or lift heavy weights.
It wasn’t that hard for the government to quickly disprove his claims, simply by seeing his TV appearances and reported earnings from the Wicked Tuna Nat Geo show!
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Here are some more related links regarding the popular reality TV shows we all love regarding the dangerous game of commercial fishing.