Snooki vs. Toni? The Jersey Shore star says she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Last Thursday, after Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi performed two sold out shows at Rutgers University, critics slammed the New Jersey public academic institution for paying the reality star $32,000, which is $2,000 more than author Toni Morrison’s fee to speak at the school’s commencement ceremony next month.
But not so fast, say Polizzi’s managers Dan Mackey and Scott Talarico, who spoke to PEOPLE exclusively about the star’s financial arrangement to clear up false rumors and show support for the Rutgers students who booked the show.
“The $32,000 covered both shows, the host, all the travel and all the expenses,” explains Mackey. “She roughly earned around $24,000 or $25,000.”
Mackey adds that her two shows, which boasted about 1,000 students each, lasted for about 80 minutes – considerably longer than most commencement speeches.
Talarico also points out that the money used to bring Polizzi to campus comes from a different source than the cash used to pay the commencement speaker. While Morrison was booked by university officials, Polizzi’s appearance was arranged by the Rutgers University Programming Association, which uses student activity fees included in tuition.
“There are always people who don’t like what you’re doing,” he says. “I believe students lined up for three and a half or four hours to get tickets. Rutgers added a second show because there was high demand.”
As for Polizzi, Talarico says that she’s confused as to why this particular gig is getting so much attention, especially because her “Inside the Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Studio” tour has been going on without incident for months, at other big schools like Penn State.
Polizzi sent a message to her critics Friday, Tweeting, “hop off of me. Let me live. Love, Nicole.”
“This has never happened at other events,” Talarico says, adding that he has some advice for the students who were unhappy with her appearance: “If you don’t like it, get involved.”