Here’s How Little Money Tim Gunn Initially Made On Project Runway

Could you even imagine the first seasons of Project Runway without Tim Gunn? While many fans of the long-running design series tune in to watch nail-biting fashion challenges, others tuned in see the show’s incomparable mentor do his thing. Alas, Gunn and co-host Heidi Klum recently decided to “jump ship” and pursue a brand new fashion series. As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Klum told members of the press that Making the Cut came to life after the pair agreed Project Runway “kind of fell apart” and their “imagination was bigger than what [they] were allowed to do.”

But perhaps Gunn should have left Project Runway a long time ago. It’s no surprise that the contestants aren’t paid to compete, but did you know that for the show’s entire first season, Gunn didn’t earn a penny? As the New York Daily News reported, when NBC/Universal and the Weinstein Company went to court in 2008, it came out that Gunn wasn’t paid for his time on the show’s debut season. Luckily for him, he was working in the fashion design department at Parsons New School of Design at the time, so he was certainly able to make ends meet — but it’s the principle of the thing, right?

Tim Gunn went a long time without working with an agent

After his first season of Project Runway, Gunn did get paid, but probably still not as much as you’d expect in light of his name being synonymous with the show. According to the New York Daily News, he only brought in $2,500 per episode in Season 2. To put things into perspective, Forbes reported in 2008 that Klum raked in “maybe $1.3 million a year as host and $350,000 as executive producer,” in addition to money she was making from various other projects and modeling deals. 

On the So Money podcast (via Refinery29), Gunn shared that things changed when he was asked about representation by an agent. Gunn recalled wondering, “Why would I need representation?” The Project Runway star didn’t know this was an essential part of being a television personality, and as he said on So Money (via, “I didn’t know that people were paid for reality television.” And with that, Gunn and the agent’s working relationship began, and on the aforementioned podcast the beloved mentor called the agent a “Godsend.” We’re happy to see that Gunn has been able to take his own advice and make it work.

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