News & Politics

Fox Paid Sarah Palin $15.85 a Word During Her Three-Year Contract

A 100-word string of Palin proclamations cost as much as an ounce of gold (in the eyes of Fox).


If a photograph, such as this one, is worth 1,000 words, then how much are words themselves worth? If you’re a freelance writer these days, a decent rate is about 10 cents per. But if you’re Sarah Palin, each utterance comes in just under $16.

Palin’s $1 million-a-year contract with Fox News just expired, and a professor at the University of Minnesota took the time (probably on a salary of about $16 an hour) to calculate exactly how that money was spent.

According to his calculations, Palin spoke exactly 189,221 words over the course of her three-year tenure at Fox, equaling an average rate of $15.85 per utterance. That means that a 100-word string of Palin proclamations is roughly worth (at least in the eyes of Fox) an ounce of gold.

She appeared on the network television station approximately once a week between 2010 and 2012 to speak these valuable phrases, most often frequenting the shows of Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

And while professor Eric Ostermeier didn’t provide us with a complete transcript (thank God), he does give us some nuggets.

Over the three years, Fox spent $158.50 for Palin to say “Right on!” and $1,759.35 for her to say “Amen.” It also spent $729.10 for her to utter the almost swear words of “darn,” “hell,” “damn,” and (most often) “heck!”

The network spent by far the most money paying for Palin’s thoughts on the sitting president: Fox dished out a staggering $24,916.20 (an entire annual salary for millions of working Americans) for her to say the two words “President Obama” over her three-year contract. 

None of this money, however, was able to imbue these words with one iota of intrinsic value--yet another example of the widening gap between a commodity’s market rate and its real value to society. 

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and the author of "A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home," forthcoming from Zuccotti Park Press.

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