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‘It’s a Contest’: Former ‘ANTM’ Model Toccara Jones Comes to Tyra Banks’ Defense After Critics Slam the Veteran Model for Reportedly Never Paying Contestants 

Former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Toccara Jones is coming to the defense of her former television mentor Tyra Banks amid backlash over the show’s contract and allegations participants were not compensated during their time on the veteran supermodel’s show. 

Jones, who appeared on the third cycle of the competition series and eventually finished in seventh place, caught up with TMZ where she addressed claims Banks exploited some of the young women on the show, telling reporters the thought of being paid to be on the series was unrealistic because it was a competition. 

Toccara Jones Defends Tyra Banks Amid Backlash over “ANTM.” Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images, Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Criticisms over Banks’ show resurfaced after cycle-nine contestant Sarah Hartshorne revealed on Twitter last week that contestants were not paid while they were on the reality series from the early 2000s. “$40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food,” she wrote. 

Jones clarified the rumblings surrounding the pay discrepancies, stating that contestants “didn’t get paid anything.” She added, “It’s a contest. So there’s no payment. I mean, when do people pay to be in a contest or get paid to be in a contest. The whole purpose of a contest is to win a prize. You know what I’m saying? It’s for the exposure.”

She continued, “The $40 was per diem. So you actually didn’t get paid. Technically, no one got paid because then if someone got paid there could be legal issues about, you know, a winner or who got paid how much. It could have been a whole big drama if people getting paid to be on a contest.” 

Though the ladies were not paid, Jones said she definitely benefited from being on the show and revealed that, “because of ‘Top Model,’ every job that I’ve received after that on television I collect residuals.”

The former plus-size model was also against the idea of canceling Banks who served as the creator and executive producer of the show. “This is the modeling world; she didn’t create this,” Jones explained. “She just showed y’all… She just became the face on it, which is great.” She later pointed out that there are good and bad sides to the industry and that “it just comes with the territory.” 

Elsewhere, the Ohio native praised Banks. “I love Tyra,” she explained. “She’s still thriving. She still doing good and she’s going to continue to be doing good and people are still talking about the franchise and here we are still speaking about it.”

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