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‘Reducing Tyra Banks Legacy Is Weird’: Fans Come to Tyra Banks Defense After Former Contestant Airs Out Disturbing Details of ‘ANTM’ Contract

Tyra Banks found herself trending on social media after a former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant revealed some details regarding her contract during her time on the classic early 2000s reality television show. It wasn’t long after a debate over the veteran model’s business practices reignited. However, not everyone was quick to shun the television host.   

The discussion appeared to have initially begun earlier this week when a Twitter user @jiggyjayy2 alleged that the “girls on ANTM were getting paid $40 an episode and Tyra and them judges were making BANK, is kinda sick.” Sarah Hartshorne, a contestant on cycle nine of “ANTM,” appeared to verify the user’s claims when she reshared the post, writing, “$40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 06: Tyra Banks on stage as Daymond John interviews her during the 2021 Black Entrepreneurs Day at The Apollo Theater on October 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

When another person asked why she didn’t just leave, Hartshorne, a comedian, claimed they were contractually obligated to stay. “You could break it but you couldn’t just, like, walk out.” She added, “There were handlers and security and lawyers who threatened us with million dollar lawsuits if we didn’t abide by the contract.”

Hartshorne’s response went viral almost immediately, and soon social media fans found themselves divided on whether the “America’s Got Talent” host, who has a history of reportedly unfairly treating contestants, could’ve better compensated the women on the show. 

One online critic backed Hartshorne, stating that “Tyra needs to be brought up on this. I’m tired of these ‘She’s a businesswoman’/’They were making a reality show’ excuses. There’s no justification for intentionally traumatizing and triggering young women for millions of dollars. I don’t care what they signed or ‘consented’ to.”

However, the fashion designer’s support was short-lived, as many people came to Banks’ defense and questioned why Hartshorne signed the contract knowing the conditions were less than desirable. 

“If a contract was signed that said y’all could be sued and then y’all see what y’all was getting paid why sign it?” wrote a second person. “I’m just saying because there’s no way you signed a contract about being sued and the amount of money y’all was getting wasn’t  disclosed.” 

Several other users slammed Hartshorne and accused her of not maximizing her opportunity while on the major platform. They noted that the actual payment came with the exposure they got on the show. 

“A lot of them models had no experience right?” wrote a third person. “So photos by some of the best photographers around, training from top models and industry insiders, a banging portfolio the longer you lasted on the show, free housing and a $40.00/day meal stipend? Lol this sounds ok.”

“Twitters obsession with reducing Tyra Banks legacy is weird. It’s “we have to celebrate our Black women” until y’all see an opportunity to bandwagon & bring down Tyra. Is she perfect? No. But she brought a lot of girls opportunities that they would’ve never gotten before.”

In an article published by TODAY, the outlet answered fan-sent questions regarding what went on behind the scenes of these popular reality shows including salary around the same time Hartshorne was on “ANTM.”

Reportedly, pay rates vary according to how long contestants have been on the show. As for the case of “American Idol,” many were paid roughly $900 a week, but singers who landed in the top 10 spots allegedly received anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 per show.

Yet, similar to what many brought up in debate, exposure appeared to be the biggest payout.

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