Designer clothes, iPads, car leases, vacation packages, baby clothes, diapers … If you’re a celebrity, you’ll receive all of this and more for free, without ever having to endorse or even request anything.
To tweak a famous Mel Brooks line, it’s good to be a celebrity. Brands like Apple, Calvin Klein, and Burberry are constantly putting their merchandise into the hands of the rich and famous. After all, there’s an off chance that a celeb might be photographed or just seen holding or wearing the brand, a scenario that amounts to ultra-cheap marketing.
A New York magazine story estimates the astonishing amount of schwag a B- or even C-list celebrity takes home each year:
On average, a regular red-carpet walker will receive about $100,000 in free goods and services annually, some in all-gratis pop-up shops and some unasked-for in the mail.
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Take a look at the U.S. median household income figures, and you’ll note that the value of the celeb haul of freebies is nearly double what the typical household earns annually.
The $100K factoid is one of many included in the magazine’s sprawling multi-part package covering the “Celebrity Economy” this week. Before being consumed with jealousy that you’re not in on the schwag-a-thon, it’s worth considering that not everything is given to celebrities. In fact, it appears as if being a celebrity is quite an expensive out-of-pocket endeavor.
A summary of one A-list actor’s expenditures reveals that she (or he) spent $11.4 million last year, including over $5 million in taxes, about $1.8 million for the mortgage and upkeep on “just” two residences ($80,000 on gardening, $24,000 for pools, $15,000 on telephones), $300,000 on kids expenses, $875,000 on jewelry, and $2,500 on bank fees.
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Maybe, then, in at least one way, celebrities really are “just like us.” Americans dropped around $30 billion on bank overdraft fees last year, so it’s good to know that the rich and famous are also known to pay totally unnecessary fees.
Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.