You don’t need to be a major film star like Chris Hemsworth to earn some good money. It turns out a little screen time on TV commercials can earn you some big bucks, too. Just ask some of the most memorable characters in these popular TV commercials.
Performers like Flo from those Progressive commercials were on camera for about 15 to 30 seconds, but that's all they needed to get paid more than most of us will earn in a lifetime. Some actors even get a paycheck in the mail every time their commercial airs!
Red Robin Lady
Melanie Paxson did several commercials for Gladware and appeared on a few shows like “Kitchen Confidential,” "Rules of Engagement,” CSI,” and “Medium.” But most folks remember her for appearing in commercials as the "Red Robin Lady.”
Red Robin Paid Her $50,249
Paxson received $50,249 from the restaurant company Red Robin. But while those commercials didn’t earn her millions, they did boost her career and even landed her a role in the short-lived sitcom “Happy Family” in 2003. Her latest acting role was in the series “Dealbreakers.”
The Snapple Lady
Wendy Kaufman, aka The Snapple Lady not only appeared in commercials, but also answered fan mail for Snapple. Unfortunately, the bubbly personality with a big smile didn’t exactly get the compensation that she probably deserved.
Snapple Paid Her $100,000
Snapple went from being a $23 million business to a $750 million business within a 10-year-period. Unfortunately, all Kaufman got was $100,000, and to add insult to injury, she lost her job when Quaker Oats bought Snapple. But she was eventually re-hired by the company.
The Pine-Sol Lady
Diane Amos has appeared in minor acting roles over the years. She played a coffee shop waitress in the film “Sweet November” and a waitress in the film “Patch Adams.” But most people know her as the “Pine-Sol Lady” in all those Pine-Sol commercials.
Pine-Sol Paid Her $250,000
Pine-Sol paid Amos a whopping $250,000 for her contribution to their commercials. Luckily, her experience in Hollywood ensured that she got paid exactly what she deserved. And now, she’s waiting on the release of her latest project, the TV series “The Tonopah Five,” where she will play Grace Halburn.
The Pillsbury Doughboy
Most people would have never associated voice actor Paul Frees with the Pillsbury Doughboy, but that’s because they look nothing alike. However, Frees did voice the adorable little character in commercials in the 1960s, as well as a multitude of other famous characters.
Pillsbury Paid Him $1 Million
In addition to voicing the Pillsbury Doughboy, Frees has also voiced characters like Rudolph and Frosty in the movie, “Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.” He also voiced Burgermeister Meisterburger in the film “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and Jack Frost in "Frosty's Winter Wonderland." Just for voicing the Pillsbury Doughboy alone, the actor got paid an impressive $1 million.
George Clooney with Nespresso
Many people were surprised to see a huge movie star like George Clooney in an advertisement for coffee, but that’s not the only role he plays in the Nespresso company. Clooney is also on the Sustainability advisory board of Nespresso to shift their focus to improving the lives of farmers who harvest and grow the coffee beans sold by the company.
Nespresso Paid Clooney $40 Million
Clooney may have gotten paid an incredible salary, but he didn’t put that money to waste. Clooney help start the Satellite Sentinel Project, which is a spy program used to track the movements of Sudan’s army, to warn civilians in the area about oncoming attacks. When discussing his Nespresso partnership with The Guardian in 2013, Clooney said, “most of the money I make on the commercials I spend keeping a satellite over the border of North and South Sudan to keep an eye on Omar al-Bashir.”
Dr. Pepper Girl
Donna Loren was a famous vocalist in the 1960s. She started out as a model before Pepsi gave her the chance to promote their product Dr. Pepper while singing at the same time. But she didn’t exactly earn as much as some of the other performers on this list.
Pepsi Paid Her $500
Pepsi only paid Loren a miserable $500 which was pretty low even for the 1960s. But throughout her career, Loren used her horrible experience with Pepsi as an indicator to determine when someone was trying to use her. This allowed her to accept only roles where she was paid what she truly deserved later on in her career.
The Maytag Man
The Maytag Man is actually an actor named Colin Ferguson. His character in the commercial is a washer and dryer installation guy. But he also starred on the sci-fi series “Eureka” and has appeared on shows like “The Vampire Diaries.” So why did he go from television acting to commercials?
Maytag Paid Him $1 Million
In 2014, Ferguson took on the role of the Maytag man in the popular commercials. And who could blame him? Maytag offered to pay him $1 million! And don’t worry! He has continued to act in TV films like “Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane” and “Christmas in Montana,” so Ferguson isn't retiring yet.
The T-Mobile Girl
In 2009, Carly Foulkes answered an ad which ultimately landed her the role of the T-Mobile Girl in commercials that ran from 2010 to 2013. And she still picks up an occasional paycheck from T-Mobile and continues to pop up in their commercials now and then.
T-Mobile Paid Her $1 Million
Foulkes’ T-Mobile deal earned her $1 million. That’s more than enough to help her buy a couple of motorcycles, which was her character’s preferred choice of vehicle. But she won’t be able to use the specific shade of pink seen on the commercials as T-Mobile has trademarked the color.
The AT&T Lady
Milana Vayntrub was originally from Uzbekistan but her family moved to Hollywood, California when she was a baby. As she got older, she started booking gigs that helped boost her family’s income. In fact, the actress who is best known as the AT&T lady has been acting and modeling since she was 5 years old.
AT&T Paid Her $500,000
Vayntrub appeared in a lot of Barbie commercials as a kid. When she was older, she appeared in a web series called “Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting.” This got her noticed for the AT&T commercials, which earned her a whopping $500,000. She continues to star in and direct commercials for AT&T, so this amount will undoubtedly go up in the future.
The Wendy’s Girl
Alabama native Morgan Smith-Goodwin appeared as the Wendy’s girl in Wendy’s commercials from 2012 to 2016. After graduating from college, Smith-Goodwin moved to New York City to see if she could become an actress. This led to her commercial role and her red hair likely helped her land the role.
Wendy’s Paid Her Over $3 Million
Over the period of 4 years, the fast food restaurant paid Smith-Goodwin more than $3 million for her participation in her commercials. This helped her land a role in the Off-Broadway show “Freckleface Strawberry” and she later took on lead roles in “Sweet Charity” and “Circumstances.” Ironically, she is actually a natural blonde, and not a red head.
Actor Stu Williams is best known as Mr. Dumass, a character who became pretty popular in the A&W Root Beer Superbowl commercials during the 1990s. As a result, Williams himself ended up making some serious cash.
A&W Paid Him $50,000
$50,000 may not seem like much these days, but it was a pretty big deal back in the 1990s, and that’s how much A&W paid Williams for his role. And recently, the star uploaded the commercial on his own YouTube channel and monetized it to milk a little more money from his famous stint.
The GoDaddy Nerd
The GoDaddy Nerd became highly popular during the 2013 Superbowl after he was kissed by Israeli model Bar Rafaeli during a live commercial. Of course, the actor who played GoDaddy Nerd is none other than Jesse Heiman and you won’t believe how much he earned from just that commercial.
GoDaddy Paid Him $900,000
Playing the nerd who gets the hot girl to kiss him earned Heiman $900,000 from GoDaddy. This opened the door for him in Hollywood to appear in a number of uncredited roles as an extra in films and on television shows like “The Goldbergs” and “Browser.”
The 'It’s Not That Complicated' Guy
Beck Bennett, aka the It’s Not That Complicated Guy, knew he always wanted to be an actor. So, he decided to break into the industry by doing commercials for companies like AT&T. And this opened the door for him to do other well known projects.
AT&T Paid Him $250,000
Bennett earned himself $250,000 from his AT&T commercials, but his biggest payoff came from becoming a star on the sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live” where he has played roles like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump Jr. since 2013.
The 'Can You Hear Me Now' Guy
For over 10 years, Paul Marcelli asked one of the most popular questions in TV commercial history. Eventually, he was offered a better contract by rival company Sprint and he switched. But who could have imagined that he would have gotten so much money by doing Verizon commercials where he asked, “Can You Hear Me Now?”
Verizon Paid Him $9 Million
Marcelli earned a net worth of about $9 million from his Verizon commercials from 2001 to 2011. Now whether Sprint was able to match that price is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say that he won’t be pressed for cash anytime soon.
Dean Winters is best known for playing Mr. Mayhem, a character featured in various Allstate insurance commercials. And in a short period of time, he became almost as popular the gecko featured in the Geico commercials.
Allstate Paid Him $4,750— With a Twist
$4,750 seems like an awfully low price to pay an actor, especially one like Winters who has appeared in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” "Law & Order SVU,” “30 Rock,” and more. But there’s a twist. Allstate pays him this amount every time one of his commercials air on television.
Vince Offer, aka ShamWow Vince, is a comedian and writer who got into show business to make ends meet. But his auditions mostly led to commercials. And soon he realized that infomercials ran longer, which meant that they paid more and offered more exposure.
He Earned $2 Million
Offer wrote, directed and starred in all of his infomercials. This ultimately led to him earning approximately $2 million just from his ShamWow commercials. That’s pretty cool considering he never set out to become a commercial actor.
Flo From Progressive
Stephanie Courtney is best known as Flo, the insurance sales rep from those Progressive insurance commercials. Not only was her character seen as peppy, but she was also devoted to her work. But how much did that devotion earn her?
Progressive Paid Her $8 Million
Courtney’s contract with Progressive has paid her $8 million. She was also a part of an underground theater club before she got her big break. Since then, she has appeared on shows like “The Goldbergs,” “Cavemen,” and “Mad Men,” to name a few.
In the old Life cereal commercial, Little Mickey was pressured by his brothers to try a bowl of cereal, which he ended up liking. The character was played by John Gilchrist, who ended up making his popularity from the commercial into a lucrative opportunity.
Quaker Oats Company Paid Him $10 Million
Quaker Oats Company, which is subsidiary of PepsiCo, produced the Life breakfast cereal and paid Gilchrist approximately $10 million for his 1970s commercial, which continued to air for more than 12 years. Then in the 1980s, Gilchrist reprised his role as a college student. And later he went on to become the director of media sales for MSG Network.
The Dell Dude
Tennessee native Benjamin Curtis became Dell Dude, a character that promoted Dell computer products in the 2000s. Oddly enough, he was a professional magician before he got his big break in the role of the Dell Dude.
Dell Paid Him $50,000
Curtis managed to earn himself $50,000 for his Dell commercials, and this was just the beginning. Eventually, he landed an uncredited role on the show “Mercy,” and he has popped up on several shows over the years like “What Would You Do?” He has also played a mugger in a short film called “Night Fits.”
The Orbit Gum Girl
Farris Patton is best known for appearing as the Orbit Gum Girl in those Orbit commercials. In most cases, she’s wearing some sort of white, skin tight outfit telling people to chew Orbit gum. But how much did this earn her?
Orbit Gum Paid Her $500,000
Patton earned $500,000 for her Orbit Gum commercials. She went on to star in a TV movie called “Famous Faces,” which was about actors who make commercials. But most people don’t know that she was also a model turned skit actor for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
The Most Interesting Man in the World
Jonathan Goldsmith started acting in 1963 and appeared in over 25 Western films, many of which went on to become major hits. But what kind of commercials was a Western star such as Goldsmith interested in?
Dos Equis Paid Him $1 Million
When Dos Equis hired Goldsmith to do some commercials for them, he earned $1 million according to his original contract with them. However, his contribution raised the company’s revenue, so they undoubtedly gave him a bigger bonus on the side.
The Toyota Girl
Laurel Coppock has been dubbed Toyota Jan or the Toyota Girl after popping up in several Toyota commercials. But if she looks familiar, it’s because she has also appeared in shows like “Modern Family,” "Arrested Development,” and “Hot in Cleveland.”
Toyota Paid Her $1 Million
All Coppock had to do as Toyota Jan was pretend like she knew everything about Toyota and the car brand paid her $1 million. And although her last acting project was a 2018 short film called “Computer Networking,” she really has no need to work too hard with the cash she has already earned.
The Target Lady
Maria Bamford added comedic weirdness to commercials as the Target Lady, which wasn’t difficult since she began her career as a comedian. And aside from a couple of comedy tours, Bamford also appeared in the film “Lucky Numbers” before doing those hilarious Target commercials.
Target Paid Her $300,000
Although she earned $300,000 from those Target commercials, she always aspired to be a voice actress. And her wish came true when she scored voice roles on “BoJack Horseman,” “Adventure Time” and “American Dad!”
The Sonic Guy
T.J. Jagodowski, aka The Sonic Guy on the left is a graduate of Syracuse University, an improv comedian, and an actor. So, Sonic hired him and his friend Pete Grosz on the right and became a hit as the Sonic Guys.
Sonic Paid Him $300,000
Shortly after his Sonic commercials, which earned him a net worth of $300,000, Jagodowski won the Chicago Improv Festival’s “Best Improviser” award. He has also appeared on shows like “Prison Break,” and films like “The Ice Harvest” and “Stranger Than Fiction.”
The Old Spice Guy
Isaiah Mustafa was “The Old Spice Guy” or “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” guy. Of course, he was also a former American football wide receiver in the 1990s before he decided to quit sports and take up acting.
Old Spice Paid Him $5 Million
Football stars earn good money, but Mustafa realized that he could earn more being in front of the camera as a soap star. And after getting paid $5 million for appearing in Old Spice commercials, he went on to bigger and better things like appearing in films such as “Horrible Bosses” and “It: Chapter Two.”
Actors Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally played a married couple in a TV commercial for Sling TV. The characters were tasked with introducing other slingers to their lives and interests. But most people don’t realize that Offerman and Mullaly were married in real life.
Sling TV Paid Them $50,000
Offerman and Mullally only got $50,000 for their commercials. This, of course, didn’t include payment for using their faces on print ads and social media to promote Sling TV, which wasn’t doing so well in the business until they decided to rebrand themselves with these advertisements.