Judge Judy Is the World's Highest-Paid TV Host, Raking in $147 Million

Judy Sheindlin has ruled over her courtroom on her popular daytime series Judge Judy for more than two decades

Judy Sheindlin has ruled over her courtroom on her popular daytime series Judge Judy for more than two decades — but for the first time ever, she’s topping Forbes‘ list of the world’s highest-paid TV hosts.

According to the publication, the 76-year-old host raked in $147 million pretax last year — out-earning Ellen DeGeneres ($87.5 million), Dr. Phil McGraw ($77.5 million), Ryan Seacrest ($74 million), Steve Harvey ($44 million), and more.

JUDGE JUDY, Judge Judy Sheindlin, 1996-, © Paramount TV / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Paramount TV/Courtesy Everett Collection

Helping Sheindlin reach the milestone was her 2017 deal with CBS, in which she sold Judge Judy‘s 5,200-episode library, as well as rights to future episodes of the syndicated program, for an estimated $100 million, Forbes reports.

For hosting Judge Judy — which is now in its 23rd season and garners more than 10 million viewers daily — and producing Hot Bench, the panel-based court show that debuted back in 2014, Sheindlin makes $47 million, Forbes reported.

In total, Sheindlin boasts a net worth of $400 million, according to Forbes, making her the 48th richest self-made woman in America.

In March 2016, Sheindler candidly opened up about her rise to stardom and why her $47 million-a-year salary is justified while testifying in a lawsuit against talent agent Richard Lawrence and his company Rebel Entertainment Partners, who alleged that CBS and CBS Television Studios’ production company Big Ticket Television had denied the talent agency profits from the show.

“They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice,” she said, according to a transcript obtained by THR last August.

“They can’t find another one. They’ve tried to find another Judy. If they find another Judy, good for them. So far they haven’t,” she continued. “And until they do, they have their local news on all their O&Os [owned-and-operated stations]. They have international, which we’re involved with the — the Judy program is all over the world, and even though they had to take a deep breath, they paid the money because they know otherwise. I’d take the same people with me that are producing the show now and I’d go and do it myself.”

The TV star also revealed that she renegotiates her salary with CBS every three years.

“We go to the Grill on the Alley with the president of the company,” she said. “We sit across the table, and I hand him the envelope and I say, ‘Don’t read it now, let’s have a nice dinner. Call me tomorrow. You want it, fine. Otherwise, I’ll produce it myself.’ That’s the negotiation.”

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