The Telegraph reports Jeremy Clarkson is now officially the BBC's highest-paid talent. Last year, the Top Gear presenter brought home around $5.5 million at current conversion rates, besting Graham Norton and Gary Lineker at around $3.1 million each. While critics may cry foul at Clarkson's escalated earnings, the broadcaster says much of that cash spawns from the success of the Top Gear brand. Clarkson works to sell the show around the globe with re-runs, spin-offs like our own Top Gear spinoff in the U.S. and live shows, not to mention a merchandizing empire that includes more than 150 licensed products. The Telegraph reports over four million Top Gear DVDs have been sold worldwide.
Technically, Clarkson is only paid around $782,000 to host the show, a figure that puts him behind other big names in the broadcaster's stable. While the BBC won't say exactly how many of its employees earn between $1.5 million and $7.8 million per year, The Telegraph deduces there are likely between three and six on-air stars pulling down that kind of cash.

And while Clarkson's $5.5M take-home is a boatload of cash, the UK government-owned BBC offers salaries that are well below what many celebrities earn in the U.S. television industry. For example, TV Guide points out that former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric knocked down a $15M dollar payday, and so did Regis Philbin for his role on Live! with Regis and Kelly, although the latter two shot more episodes than Top Gear. The hit NBC sitcom Friends is also understood to have paid its stars $1M per episode in its final season – and that was back in 2002.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      He does a little more than just "present" the show - he risks injury (unsuccessfully) pretty often on those zany challenges.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yeah, he does all his own stunts. I am sure he builds the challenge machines too. I've been on the sets and behind the scenes. It is 90% made up.
          • 2 Years Ago
          yes and him driving into a brickwall was staged as well... Of course it's partly staged, people are so simple that it hurts sometimes.
      • 2 Years Ago
      He's worth every cent of it.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually I was expecting even more, with the success of that show he and the crew deserve to be paid more
      • 2 Years Ago
      dare to say it, but hes UNDERpaid. TG has how many viewers worlwide??? (around 350million ive read before). now compare that to jay leno (or pick any other host) who gets paid ~$25mio/yr and gets around 4mio viewers.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jeremy is the funniest guy on TV. Wishg they would make more epis per year. Go Jeremy! Make loads of pounds!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      The comment about fewer episodes is very misleading. They may only do 7 or 8 per season but the cast and crew spend more than a week on each episode. Spending a week on the road for a challenge, rebuilding a vehicle, and test driving 2 or 3 cars takes quite a while. The Stars and the cast probably spend as much time, or more, working every year as do the people on any other series.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love the show and I am glad to hear that Mr. Clarkson is getting paid his fair far as the American version I agree with the other posters it was really bad.
      Carbon Fibre
      • 2 Years Ago
      wtf. Local tv presenters are friggin overpaid. Their boring as f***,
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jeremy, good for you. You make that show what it is. The other guys are great, but you are definitely what I tune in for each time. I only wish we had a show here in the US that was 1/10th as good as Top Gear....ANY show.
      Mr. Incredible
      • 2 Years Ago
      Love the BBC Top Gear the American version is horrible. Jeremy is the man.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mr. Incredible
        I lived in England when this show started and it was one of the things I missed the most when I left. I was thrilled when I could get it on BBC America - my son and are addicted. But the American version is C R A P. The presenters are not funny, attractive or entertaining. Why bother?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great show watch all the time I would do it for free just to get to drive all those great cars
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you get to do something you love, then the extra millions isn't going to bring happiness. We have celebrities in America who drink themselves to death, among other things who get paid WAY too much. Clarkson is so good at his job and probably so busy, he probably had trouble finding the time to spend the 5.5mill he makes each year.
        • 2 Years Ago
        He's so busy he didn't have time to shop for cars and ended up with a Ford GT.
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