The 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards aired on Sept. 17, honoring television’s greatest. Colin Jost and Michael Che hosted the award show that has gotten so big, it handed out more awards last week before the primetime event, similar to how the Oscars gives out its honors.
As with any live event, the unexpected occurred: A surprise onstage marriage proposal brought the audience to its feet, and some winners seemed genuinely shocked by their victories. Henry Winkler finally went home with an award for his role on “Barry,” and Betty White received a standing ovation. HBO and Netflix tied with 23 awards apiece, and Amazon took the first best comedy win ever for a streaming service with its “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Winning can mean a higher salary, and some winners have made big career moves off of post-award popularity. The payoff for the class of 2018 is undetermined, but an Emmy award definitely boosts an entertainer’s star power, and thus their negotiating power.
Click through to see some of the 2018 Emmy winners, and to find out if there was a significant pay raise after each of these stars got recognition for their artistic achievements.
Darren Criss’ eerie portrayal of serial killer Andrew Cunanan in “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” won him his first Emmy. After he lost his first nomination in 2015 for “Glee,” Criss returned to Broadway to star in “Hedwig and the Angry Itch.” Criss’ next project is undetermined, but with an Emmy under his belt, offers will likely start to roll in.
Regina King picked up her third Emmy win on Monday, this time for her performance in “Seven Seconds.” But she still seemed genuinely shocked over the announcement. Her career spans over 30 years and her film credits include “Boyz n the Hood,” “Jerry Maguire,” and “Ray.” King also has roles on legacy TV hits like “24,” “Shameless” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
A veteran of both the stage and screen, Jeff Daniels won his second Emmy on Monday for his role as Frank Griffin in the limited series “Godless.” For his movie roles, Daniels commands as much as $6 million, but for his role in “Godless,” Daniels earned $75,000 per episode.
She might not be a household name, but that could change for Merritt Wever who celebrated her second Emmy win on Monday. She picked up her first golden statue in 2013 for her work in “Nurse Jackie” and can now add the award for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie for “Godless.”
Bill Hader racked up an impressive five Emmy nominations for acting, directing and writing, ultimately snagging the trophy for his acting for the titular role in HBO’s dark comedy, “Barry.” “Barry” is a departure from his sketch comedy days on “Saturday Night Live” and the win likely positions Hader to take on more projects that demonstrate his range in the future.
Matthew Rhys has been nominated for his work on “The Americans” and finally got his due. Unfortunately, Rhys isn’t able to parlay his Emmy into a raise — the show concluded in May. In 2015, Heavy reported that Rhys made $75,000 per episode.
Rachel Brosnahan didn’t win her Emmy nomination as outstanding guest actress in a drama series in 2015 for her role as Rachel Posner in Netflix’s “House of Cards,” but the nomination definitely raised the actress’ visibility. She’s now an Emmy recipient for the titular role of Miriam “Midge” Maisel in Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Back-to-back award wins in 2017 and 2018 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix’s “The Crown” cemented Claire Foy as entertainment royalty. Foy’s paycheck was the subject of headlines in early 2018 when it came out that Foy earned about $10,000 less per episode than her co-star, Matt Smith, who plays her husband, Prince Philip. It was rumored that Foy earned $40,000 per episode to Smith’s $50,000 per episode, but ultimately received $275,000 in back pay.
Monday’s win for Henry Winkler was a moment more than 40 years in the making since his first nomination for playing Arthur Fonzarelli on “Happy Days.” For Winkler, the Emmy win is a validation of his acting chops and the dual acting wins for Bill Hader and Winkler will likely add longevity to “Barry.”
Thank you everyone for your wonderfully warm wishes on my Win tonight. It’s thrilling
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) September 18, 2018
Third time’s the charm for Alex Borstein. After two nominations, she took home a win on Monday for Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Borstein’s face is almost as recognizable as her voice; she’s been the voice of Lois Griffin on “Family Guy” for 20 years. In 2013, Borstein alongside her “Family Guy” co-stars secured between $175,000 and $225,000 each per episode.
“Game of Thrones” fans have been starved for new episodes but got to see one of the show’s stars, Peter Dinklage, accept his third Emmy award for his role of Tyrion Lannister during the 2018 Emmys. Dinklage was handsomely compensated for his work on what Time magazine called the “world’s most popular show.” In 2017, Variety reported Dinklage made $500,000 per episode. His salary is now rumored to be around $2.5 million per episode, according to London-based outlet Express.
Thandie Newton received her first Emmy on Monday night for her role as Maeve on HBO’s “Westworld.” Although it’s unclear if Newton’s 2017 Emmy nominated is related, earlier this year, HBO announced that it would pay its actors equally.
At 96 years old, Betty White commanded Los Angeles’s Microsoft Theater and viewers around the world as she was honored for her more than 80 years in entertainment. With humor, gratitude and gentility, White proved that she’s a national treasure. Her legacy includes roles in “The Golden Girls,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and “The Love Boat.”
After his fourth Emmy win as outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for CBS’ “Big Bang Theory,” Jim Parsons, aka Sheldon Cooper, saw a boost in his paycheck that more than tripled his salary. In August 2014, The Hollywood Reporter reported Parsons’ pay per episode increased from $350,000 to $1 million.
Season 12 marks the finale of “The Big Bang Theory” for Jim Parsons and his co-stars, who walked away from a two-year $50 million paycheck. The show turned Parsons into a household name and garnered four Emmy’s as the outstanding lead actor in a comedy series.
After winning her first Emmy in 1996 for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for her work as Elaine Benes on NBC’s hit comedy “Seinfeld,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus saw a salary bump. In 1997, Variety reported that the actress had agreed to a contract that would raise her salary from about $160,000 per episode to $600,000 per episode.
In recent years, Louis-Dreyfus has received numerous accolades for starring in HBO’s political satire “Veep” as Selina Meyer. However, production stalled as Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer. Her medical hiatus made the show ineligible for Emmy nominations this year, but will no doubt return when the show’s seventh and final season airs in spring 2019.
Kiefer Sutherland was nominated five times for an Emmy from 2002 to 2006. In 2006, Sutherland finally received the Emmy award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for his role as Jack Bauer in the Fox hit series “24.” Originally, Sutherland’s salary for “24” was figured at $100,000 per episode, according to Sandy Gushrow, former chairman of Fox Television in an interview with The Wrap. But by 2007, Sutherland was earning four times that much at $400,000 per episode, according to Entertainment Weekly.
In 2016, Sutherland returned to television in the lead role of ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” and is reportedly getting around $300,000 per episode, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
In both 2011 and 2012, Julie Bowen won an Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role on ABC’s popular TV show “Modern Family.” Although her work as Claire Dunphy was helping her rake in about $65,000 per episode at the time, her salary was bumped up to between $170,000 and $175,000 per episode during negotiations in 2012, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
For her role as Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s “Homeland,” Claire Danes won Emmys for outstanding lead actress in a drama series in both 2012 and 2013. In both of those years, Danes made $250,000 per episode, according to The Richest. Danes was nominated for Emmys in the same category in 2014, 2015 and 2016. And the actress’ salary per episode just kept getting better. Variety reported in 2017 that Danes was raking in major cash by earning $450,000 per episode.
Sterling K. Brown
In 2017, Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series — and he won. Although Brown was making $75,000 per episode, according to E! News, cast members, including Brown, were given a hefty $250,000 bonus that same year after Brown had received his nomination and right before the awards. The bonus was “a thank-you for the extraordinary performance of the series to date and a symbol of goodwill for when the actors renegotiate their contracts,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
Jennifer Aniston won her “Friends” Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series in 2002. Although the cast’s salary had grown by leaps and bounds two years earlier, it grew once again — and made history. That same year, The New York Times reported that the cast would receive an unheard of $1 million per episode for the coming season, which was slated to be the last. But the show actually went on to see another season, and Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green bagged another $1 million per episode.
Eric Stonestreet, who stars as Cameron Tucker on ABC’s “Modern Family,” won two Emmy awards as best supporting actor in a comedy series in 2010 and 2012. In 2012, Stonestreet inked a deal that would make his pay per episode more than double what he was currently earning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stonestreet’s pay jumped from $65,000 to over $150,000.
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In 1998, “Friends” cast member Lisa Kudrow won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. Kudrow’s work as Phoebe Buffay — and the actress’ real-life negotiation skills — helped her rake in a huge payday just two years later. Kudrow’s pay per episode jumped from $125,000 to $750,000 per episode.
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In 2012, Jon Cryer, aka Alan Harper of “Two and a Half Men,” unexpectedly won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. The next year, in 2013, Cryer got a pay raise, according to The Hollywood Reporter, whereas his co-star Ashton Kutcher did not. Cryer’s pay per episode was bumped up to about $620,000 per episode, when he was previously earning less than $600,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste Wright on “Big Little Lies,” won a 2017 Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie. The series was such a hit that HBO brought it back for another season — with a huge salary increase for Kidman. Kidman, who made somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000 per episode in season 1, inked a deal for around $1 million per episode in season 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
For her role as Liz Lemon in NBC’s “30 Rock,” Tina Fey was nominated in 2007 for an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. She was nominated again in 2008 and won. Fey then received nominations every year for the next five years but never won an Emmy for “30 Rock” again. In 2009, Fey was making $300,000 per episode, and by the final season, in 2013, the comedic actress was pulling in $500,000 per episode, according to The Richest.
James Gandolfini was nominated six times for an Emmy for his role as Tony Soprano in the HBO hit series “The Sopranos.” In 1999, Gandolfini was making $5 million per season on “The Sopranos,” according to The Richest. In 2003, he won an Emmy in the category of outstanding lead actor in a drama series. That same year, Gandolfini demanded $26 million to return for the show’s fifth season. By the time negotiations ended, Gandolfini was set to make around $13 million during the fifth season, according to Variety.
Kyra Sedgwick was nominated five times — from 2006 to 2010 — for outstanding lead actress in a drama series based on her role as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson in TNT’s “The Closer.” In 2007, Sedgwick got a significant bump in pay per episode — equaling $250,000 to $300,000, plus one-time bonuses, according to Reuters. In 2010, when Sedgwick finally won the Emmy, she was making $350,000, according to TV Guide’s list of TV’s top earners.
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Hank Azaria, longtime cast member of Fox’s “The Simpsons,” earned outstanding voice-over performance Emmys in both 2001 and 2003 for his performances as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Chief Wiggum, the voice of Jesus and more. In 2004, Azaria saw an increase in pay per episode to $360,000 — a huge departure from the $125,000 per episode earned the previous season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In 1998, Debra Messing was making around $250,000 per episode as Grace Adler of “Will and Grace,” according to The Richest. Starting in 2000, Messing began receiving Emmy nominations for her role on the NBC hit comedy. In 2003, after three prior nominations, Messing won an Emmy in the outstanding lead actress in a comedy series category. In 2005, the New York Post reported that Messing was raking in about $400,000 per episode.
Allison Janney was nominated six times for an outstanding supporting actress in a drama series Emmy for her role as C.J. Cregg in NBC’s “The West Wing.” She won Emmys in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. In 2002, E! News reported that Janney had received a salary increase the year before and at the time was making about $70,000 per episode — about double what she had been making.
Ray Romano, aka sports writer Raymond Barone, of the CBS hit comedy series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” was nominated for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series six times — from 1999 to 2003 and in 2005. In 2002, Romano snagged an Emmy win and saw a salary increase. In 2001, Romano was making $19 million per season, according to The Richest. In 2002, Romano signed a deal for $40 million per season, making him the highest-paid actor on TV at the time.
Felicity Huffman received an Emmy nomination in 2005 and 2007 for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series due to her work as Lynette Scavo in CBS’ “Desperate Housewives.” Her nomination turned into a win in 2005. During that same year, Huffman was making $250,000 per episode. But by 2009, the actress was scoring $400,000 for each episode she starred in.
In 1998, Hunt’s salary skyrocketed from $250,000 to $1 million per episode, according to Entertainment Weekly. No doubt that the actress’ prior Emmy wins had something to do with her substantial pay raise. Hunt won outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her role as Jamie Buchman in NBC’s “Mad About You” in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Click through to read more about the salaries of the richest actors compared to the richest actresses.
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Stephanie Asymkos contributed to the reporting for this article.