The Richest Dancing With The Stars Judge Might Surprise You

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Since its debut back in 2005, "Dancing With the Stars" has been a ratings workhorse for ABC, often topping Monday night ratings. The series has continued to grow and evolve and is showing no signs of slowing down. Even after longtime host, Tom Bergeron walked away from the show in 2020 and Tyra Banks took over, raising eyebrows with her bizarre outfits and on-air gaffes, fans kept on tuning in. And while "Dancing With the Stars"'s recent changes divided some viewers, the show just can't be stopped as audiences can't seem to get enough of the tough competition, the drama, and the romance. Case in point: Last year's finale "capped [off] a season of ratings gains in the key 18-49 demographic," per The Hollywood Reporter.

Meanwhile, the celebrities can't resist a great paycheck, as "Dancing With the Stars" doesn't shy away from spending big money for ratings gold. Contestants earn six figures simply for agreeing to do the show and execs don't mind shelling out hundreds of thousands to keep fans' beloved judges judging. But how much are the ballroom experts really earning to share their unvarnished opinions? The numbers will surprise you, as will the richest judge of all.

Derek Hough earned a nice chunk of change off a property flip

Derek Hough and Mark Ballas share more than their time on "Dancing With the Stars" together. What fans of the show may not realize is that their friendship actually goes way back to when they were just 13 years old, per Us Weekly. That's when Hough and his sister, Julianne, moved in with Ballas and his parents in England to attend London's Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. "Derek is my best friend and brother for life," Ballas gushed, sharing how they "grew up together [...] trained together," went to school together, and, eventually, "moved out to America together [and] joined the show together."

Well, in 2014, they took their lifelong bond up a notch and went into business together! The pair bought a four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom apartment in Studio City, California, for $1.275 million, per E!, which they then flipped and sold for $1.85 million just a year later, per Los Angeles Times. But they didn't just walk away with a nice $575,000 profit, they also cashed in on the reno by taking it to the small screen. 

Inviting HGTV to come along for their remodeling journey, they filmed four episodes of "Mark and Derek's Excellent Flip" in which viewers got to see the dance pros team up with designer Andrew Gulyas to rework the '60s home, from the exterior to the master suite. Judging by the stunning results and their profit, they may have a backup career if dancing doesn't work out.

Derek Hough's net worth is not what you think it is

Derek Hough is one of the most recognized names in dance, but that wasn't always the case. When he joined "Dancing With the Stars" as a pro in 2007, viewers only knew his sister, Julianne, and, as he told The Salt Lake Tribune, he felt "like I was just kind of faking it." So "when somebody first called me a choreographer, I was, like, 'No, I'm not.'" But he worked hard to prove himself and soon enough, he was catapulted into the spotlight. During his time on the show, Hough won the Mirrorball Trophy six times and took home two Emmys for choreography. From there, he cashed in on his newfound fame by saying yes to a slew of projects.

From co-hosting all four seasons of "World of Dance" to taking on small-screen acting gigs, including roles in "Nashville" and "High School Musical: The Musical – The Series," Hough was everywhere. Then came his biggest validation when, in September 2020, he returned to "Dancing With the Stars" as a judge, per People. According to Reel Rundown, this would have boosted his salary from between $1,600 and $5,200 per week as a pro to $1.2 million per season as a judge! He also signed a deal with ABC to "host and develop specials and entertainment programming" and landed his own Las Vegas residency, "Derek Hough: No Limits," in 2021. But what's truly surprising is that despite all these accomplishments, he's the least wealthy judge with an estimated net worth of $8 million.

Carrie Ann Inaba had a number of income streams but was forced to drop some

Carrie Ann Inaba's television career has spanned three decades and earned her millions. Since getting her start on "In Living Color" from 1990 through 1992, per IMDb, she's had a handful of cameos, including in the "Austin Powers" flicks, but her real claim to fame has been live TV. In 2005, she joined the first season of "Dancing With the Stars" as a judge and never left. As of 2021, she had shared her dancing knowledge on over 450 episodes!

But that wasn't enough screen time for Inaba who simultaneously joined "The Talk" as a part-time co-host in 2017. After ramping up her presence through 2018, People confirmed she'd be replacing Julie Chen permanently in 2019. "I feel so fortunate to sit at the table with these five brilliant women," she gushed, dubbing it an "enriching experience." Sadly, after co-hosting over 600 episodes, she left the show in August 2021, explaining, "We all know health is the most precious gift we have. And I need to take care of mine."

According to Reel Rundown, "Dancing With the Stars" judges initially earned $250,000 per episode until season two when the show's popularity boosted their salaries to $1.2 million per season. And while it's uncertain how much "The View" brought to Inaba's bank account, selling her Valley Village, California home in 2016 added $1.15 million to her balance, per Los Angeles Times. All in all, Celebrity Net Worth puts Carrie Ann Inaba's total net worth today at $9 million.

Julianne Hough has earned a pretty penny as a quadruple threat

Julianne Hough dances, sings, acts, judges — she does it all! Since getting her start as a pro on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007, Hough has become a household name — and a millionaire. While initially competing through 2009, she likely earned between $1,600 and $5,200 per episode, according to Reel Rundown, but that number would have jumped to $1.2 million per season when she returned to judge from 2014 to 2017. She also judged the 2019 season of "America's Got Talent" (reportedly earning under $70,000 per episode) and landed a handful of acting gigs, including in "Grease Live!," "Burlesque," and the 2011 remake of "Footloose."

What's more, Hough found success in music with her 2008 self-titled album, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and got her a spot on Brad Paisley's The Paisley Party tour. She then hit the road with her brother in 2014 for the Move Live on Tour, which had "amazing" ticket sales and led to 2017's Move Beyond Live Tour.

In addition to her career, Hough also has impressive real estate holdings. In 2014, she bought a Hollywood Hills home for $1,943,575, per Variety, after selling a Nashville condo she bought for $649,000 for $900,000. In 2013, Radar also reported that Ryan Seacrest allegedly gifted her a $3 million "mansion" after their split. Add that all up and Hough is sitting on an estimated net worth of $10 million.

Bruno Tonioli's fortune bought him a stunning Hollywood mansion

Bruno Tonioli has been working in Hollywood for decades, choreographing for films such as "Ella Enchanted," music videos like Michael Jackson's "Give in to Me," and tours for the likes of Tina Turner, per ABC. However, most fans will recognize him from "Dancing with the Stars" as he's judged every season since its launch in 2005 — that's over 440 episodes, per IMDb

Even more impressive is that he simultaneously judged Britain's version of the show, "Strictly Come Dancing," from its 2004 debut through 2020. According to Hello!, the latter earned him between £200,000 and £249,000 (between $277,000 and $345,000) in 2018 and, even though he took a 50% pay cut in 2020 because he couldn't appear in-person, Daily Mail calculated that he earned £125,000 (about $173,000) for 3 minutes and 46 seconds of screen time. That comes out to a whopping £33,185 (or $46,000) per minute. It's no wonder he was "gutted" to be replaced in 2021 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions (via Chronicle Live). He's not short on cash, though, as he continues to earn an estimated $30,000 per episode for the U.S. show.

And while Tonioli has splurged on real estate, buying a $2.825 million mansion in West Hollywood, he's all about saving. Speaking with This Is Money, he shared how his parents "instilled in me a great respect for money, because it was always very scarce, and you had to manage it correctly." That good management resulted in a $16 million net worth.

Len Goodman earned his first million late in life

Len Goodman began his career as a professional dancer in the 1960s, but after winning several high-profile titles, including the World Exhibition Championships, he decided to retire from competing to focus on teaching with his Goodman Dance Academy in Kent, England. Following decades in the dance world, he planned to "ease off at the dance studio" and "play more golf" when he turned 60 in 2004, but that's exactly when a huge opportunity presented itself. As he told Financial Times in 2009, he got a call from the BBC to film the "Strictly Come Dancing" pilot "on my 60th birthday." He landed the gig as head judge and, in 2005, got the same role on "Dancing With the Stars" and, just like Bruno Tonioli, decided to work on both in tandem.

Doing so meant a nice payday. While the British show earned him "fabulous money: £1,000 [or $1,800] for a day's work," the American counterpart upped his earnings considerably. As he told the outlet, "in the five years that I have been appearing on 'Strictly' and 'Dancing with the Stars,' I probably have earned around £1 million [about $1.4 million] – the bulk from the US series." TV also "doubled" his teaching business. But despite having "far more money than I ever dreamt," Goodman only splurges occasionally. "I reward myself at the end of each 10-week stint working in the US" with an expensive watch or nice piece of art, he explained.

Len Goodman made bank on the small screen

Len Goodman may have retired from "Strictly Come Dancing" in 2016 because he wanted "to have more me-time" (via Mirror), but as of 2020, he was still the show's "best paid judge," per Mirror. That's because, according to various reports, Goodman was bullish when it came to negotiating his BBC salary. First, he demanded — and got — a major £30,000 (or about $52,000) raise in 2008 which "took his pay to £90,000 [or about $157,000] for the series," per News of the World (via Reality Blurred). Then he asked for even more money, as The Sun learned in 2018 that he was eventually being paid £120,000 (or about $209,000) for each "Strictly Come Dancing" season.

But if you think those numbers are impressive, they're "dwarfed" by his American TV salary, according to The Sun. Back in 2008, News of the World reported that Goodman was earning almost three times as much "from US telly giants ABC" than he was from the BBC, as he reportedly cashed in £250,000 (or about $436,000) a season. And his "Dancing With the Stars" salary only kept growing from there, helping him earn an impressive £1 million (or about $1.74 million) in 2017, the year after he left "Strictly."

Did money bring Len Goodman out of retirement?

Back in 2015, Len Goodman was visibly missing from season 21 of "Dancing With the Stars" and, the following year, he announced his retirement from TV. But that didn't last. Goodman soon went back on his word, at least partially, and returned to the American show the following season — and every season since. So, what gives? 

According to The Sun, his decision may have come down to money. The outlet noted how "the show struggled without him" and so, in 2016, producers worked hard to cut a deal and eventually "coaxed him back with a huge pay rise that is set to earn him hundreds of thousands of pounds more." According to a friend, Goodman "genuinely wanted to take a step back," but decided to continue because "he still has the energy of a man half his age [...] and the money is a bonus." That money was a reported £3.3 million (about $5.8 million) deal. That, in turn, helped take the value of his company, Pleasurable Pastimes, from £3.3 million in 2016, per The Sun, to £4.8 million (about $6.6 million) in 2020, per Mirror.

Add to that his £800,000 (about $1.4 million) home in Kent, dance school earnings, various books, speaking engagements, and more and Celebrity Net Worth estimates his riches at $18 million, making him the wealthiest judge of all.