How Much Do Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Get Paid? Former Dancer Reveals Pay Breakdown

29 June 2024, 10:19

How much do the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders get paid?
How much do the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders get paid? Picture: Netflix
Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

How much does an NFL cheerleader get paid? Netflix's new docuseries about the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders has raised some questions amongst viewers.

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Joining the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the most iconic and well-known cheerleading squad in the NFL, is a dream come true. But the coveted job doesn't exactly pay well...

Netflix's brand new docuseries America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders has become a viral hit with people all over social media now obsessed with the show and the dancers. The 7-part series follows the DCC squad through the 2023 to 2024 season, as they audition for the team, go through to training camp and then eventually perform on the field.

While people are mostly amazed by the hard-work and talent that the dancers show throughout the series, others are shocked by what's said about how much they get paid.

NFL cheerleaders are contract workers, which means they do not work for teams full-time and do not receive a salary. They get paid on a per-game or hourly basis instead. A large amount of the cheerleaders all work second jobs on top of completing their duties for the team.

Cowboys cheerleaders do make more than the league average, but it may not be enough to make a living.

How much money do Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders make?

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders wages: How much do they get paid?
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders wages: How much do they get paid? Picture: Netflix

Former Cowboys cheerleader Kat Puryear revealed in the docuseries that she makes around the same amount of money as a "Chick-fil-A worker that works full-time."

Speaking in the doc, Cowboys' chief brand officer Charlotte Jones said: "There’s a lot of cynicism around pay for NFL cheerleaders—as it should be. 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. 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."

"It is about being a part of something bigger than themselves," she continued. "It is about a sisterhood that they are able to form, about relationships that they have for the rest of their life. They have a chance to feel like they are valued, they are special, and they are making a difference. When the women come here, they find their passion and they find their purpose."

Her comments have been criticised by viewers who believe the cheerleaders should be paid more. One X/Twitter user wrote: "Charlotte Jones acknowledging and validating #AmericasSweethearts low pay because it’s a ‘dream’ to even make the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders team is so gross."

Watch the America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders trailer

Per Us Weekly, a 2017 ESPN report revealed that the average NFL cheerleader gets paid around $150 per game. They also get additional pay for practice time and public appearances. They're said to earn around $22,500 a year but seeing as that report is from several years ago, it's possible that they may earn slightly more now.

In a follow up TikTok video discussing her pay, Kat Puryear revealed that the DCC squad get paid a flat fee per game, as well as an hourly rate on top of that. Games days can be around 11 hours long. For appearances, dancers will also get a flat fee "depending on your tenure" as well as hourly pay. For practice, it's hourly pay – clocking in at 7pm and clocking out at 10-11pm.

Pay increases the longer each dancer is in the squad, but it's capped after 5 years. Anyone staying on the team beyond 5 years will not see a pay increase. 5th year dancers earn "a lot more money", and leaders within the squad also earn more.

Cowboys cheerleaders, however, are said to be paid more per game. Per a 2022 report from NBC Boston, the DCC team apparently earn around $500 per game and about $15-20 per hour. Dallas Cowboys are one of the richest sports franchises in the world, with a $9 billion net worth.

Despite the rumours and speculation, not even docuseries director Greg Whiteley knows exactly how much each of them get paid.

"I think that’s because it varies depending on how senior you are in the group," he told Glamour. "You may even get paid more if you’re a group leader, though that was never clear to me."

Rookie Reece Allman works part time at a flower shop on top of the gruelling Cowboys Cheerleader schedule
Rookie Reece Allman works part time at a flower shop on top of the gruelling Cowboys Cheerleader schedule. Picture: Netflix

In the past, several cheerleaders have filed lawsuits against the NFL in order to improve pay.

In 2014, former Oakland Raiders cheerleader Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields filed the first class-action lawsuit against the NFL regarding cheerleaders’ compensation, alleging wage theft and gender discrimination.

Lacy alleged that she was paid only for the hours she was performing and not for the rehearsal time, or her work as an ambassador at Raiders events. At the end of the 2013-2014 season, she was paid a total of $1,250.

The Guardian writes that, in comparison, an NFL mascot could earn up to $65,000 in a year.

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