While you waste the last drips of this Friday afternoon at your desk, just know there's someone out there who is much more famous than you, is much less deserving than you, and gets paid more than some people make a year to talk about motivational things for about half an hour. The gory, torturous details are all in the latest issue of The New Republic.
The TNR team of Nora Caplan-Bricker, Lydia Depillis, and Molly Redden have amassed a staggering speaker fee database. From Clinton to Baldwin (Stephen), they've figured out who's getting paid what and who is asking for what.
The graphic actually works better here. [Warning: proceed at your own risk and those with high-blood pressure are discouraged from clicking through.] Now that is all squared away, here are our picks of the best buys and the overpriced purchases on the speaker fee market:
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Best Bang For Your Buck
Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel at $40,000 is a steal. Wiesel's speaking rate is in the same bracket as David Blaine. If you're paying Blaine $40,000 and he's not performing life-threatening magic, you're doing it completely wrong. Here's a preview of what $40,000 in Wiesel looks like:
Arianna Huffington is also in the Wiesel range. And she's a bit more enthusiastic than Mr. Wiesel. You're basically paying for the accent (and it's worth it):
Michael Phelps, an 18-time gold medalist, comes in at $50,000. And just like Blaine, if you're gonna pay $50,000 to see Michael Phelps talk about muscles and stuff and not even doggy paddle, that's completely up to you:
For $50,000 you can get both the real Patch Adams and the real Erin Brockovich to speak at your engagement and completely mess with your guests' minds. But that might be better spent hiring Al Green:
And it's totally your choice if you want to spend $20,000 on the very precious David Pogue to have him do this rendition of "YMCA":
Buy a House Instead
You're on your own for this one. If you choose to spend $50,000 to have Donald Trump speak at your event, you're either the richest troll on Earth or perhaps on the steering committee at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. And you're obviously not the Republican National Committee (who canceled on him at last year's convention):
If you've been counting, we've embedded $250,000 worth of speeches and appearances (Al Green's was a church sermon and whatever Pogue did was strange but we're counting both). And that should kinda make you sad, right? Mad, perhaps? Or inspired? If it's the latter and reading about this infuriating business model is the spark you needed to become the most sought-after motivational speaker in the world, we totally want a cut.