How Much Do NFL Cheerleaders Make? 5

“I would say I’m making like a Chick-fil-A worker that works full time,” former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Katherine Puryear tells viewers during the first episode of Netflix’s latest docuseries hit America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

The former professional cheerleader, a commentator throughout the series, offered the explanation after being asked point-blank how much she made during the gig, a topic of conversation throughout the episode. Last weekend, Puryear took to her TikTok page to expand on the discussion. (At the time of publishing, the video had over seven million views on TikTok.)

The video starts with the scene mentioned and an onscreen caption that says, “Clearing some things up,” with a blushing, hand-over-mouth emoji. “OK, here’s my spiel,” Puryear begins before offering to break down her pay as a Cowboys cheerleader. She does, however, note that she can’t get into too many specifics.

“I can’t tell you every dollar amount because I don’t read my contract all the way full, and I think it says something about not disclosing that stuff,” she says in the TikTok video. “So, I’m just not even going to play around with it.”

While the Netflix series hardly digs deep on the subject of cheerleader pay, it is addressed briefly early on in the series. “I think my game day fee was $35, and we basically donated that back,” Tina Kalina says not even 20 minutes into the show’s first episode. Kalina is a former Cowboys cheerleader and the mother of a current Cowboys cheerleader, Victoria Kalina, who is featured heavily throughout the series.

“These Millennials, X-Gen, whatever they’re called, they do look at it as a job, where us old-timers look at it as more of a privilege,” she adds.

Charlotte Jones, executive vice president and chief brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys, even broached the subject during the show. “You know, there’s a lot of cynicism around pay for NFL cheerleaders… as it should be,” Jones says. “They’re not paid a lot.”

“But the facts are they actually don’t come here for the money. They come here for something that’s actually bigger than that to them,” Jones continues. “They have a passion for dance. There are not a lot of opportunities in the field of dance to get to perform at an elite level.”

What is the pay structure for cheerleaders?

Puryear explains in her TikTok video that the cheerleaders are paid a flat fee for games, plus an hourly wage on game day. She notes that those days can typically be 11 hours long, adding that “it’s pretty nice.” The former cheerleader also added that practices are paid hourly.

In the video, Puryear says appearances at local events are also a flat fee plus an hourly rate. However, according to the video, those fees differ based on the cheerleader’s tenure with the team, which caps at five years with the team.

“Fifth-years make a lot more money because of your tenure, your time,” Puryear says in the video. She also notes that appearances are voluntary.

How much are cheerleaders getting paid?

Puryear’s TikTok debrief, at least in terms of structure, seemingly adds up with a 2022 report from NBC Sports Boston about NFL cheerleaders pay. In the report, it states Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders earned about $15-20 per hour or $500 per game, averaging out to $75,000 per year.

According to that same NBC Sports Boston report, Cowboys cheerleaders, along with Carolina Panthers’ cheerleading squad, known as the Carolina TopCats, are paid significantly higher than other NFL cheerleading teams. The report says, on average, NFL cheerleaders earn about $150 per game, or $22,500 per year.

Are cheerleaders full time?

“It’s like a full-time… full-time commitment, part-time pay,” Puryear finishes her TikTok video saying. “It’s a good part-time job, but we do a lot of work.”

Puryear herself said she had a part-time job during her time on the team, however, throughout the series, several of the veteran and rookie members of the team speak about their full-time day jobs.

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