Up until last month, Guy Fieri, esteemed mayor of Flavortown, had a pretty sweet $30 million exclusive three-year contract with the Food Network. But his negotiation skills must be as acute as his eye for a good business venture, because Forbes has reported that Fieri has signed a new three-year contract with the network—this time for $80 million. That ought to cover the gas for his little red Camaro as he zips around the country for seasons 34-36 of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Fieri is now the highest paid chef on cable TV by a significant margin. And why not? Forbes notes that Triple D (Fieri’s affectionate term for his flagship program) “generated more than $230 million in 2020 ad revenue for the Food Network, according to data analytics firm Kantar.” Not only that, but the series has consistently drawn audiences to the network since 2006, or more than half the lifespan of the network itself. Discovery Networks, parent company of the Food Network, is notoriously cheap when it comes to paying its biggest stars, so while we have no evidence of this, it can be reasonably assumed that Fieri leveraged his role as the face of more than fourteen different Food Network franchises to secure his healthy raise. He now makes more than Gordon Ramsay, “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond, and Chip and Joanna Gaines all made on their respective networks at their peak. Fieri’s on fire.
Guy Fieri rolled up to the gates of Flavortown inside a Trojan horse of flames, frosted tips, trash can nachos, and various other X-treme affectations. But since first captivating the public 15 years ago, he’s brought real talent and thoughtfulness to each of his projects. It’s not just any TV personality who could provide independently owned restaurants with such a lasting bump in business, nor would it be nearly as fun watching an even slightly more pretentious chef tool around in their sprawling ranch kitchen. Guy’s new $80 million contract is an acknowledgement by the Food Network that its biggest star is one who earned his shine—and he somehow did so with an authenticity that never looked authentic. He used his attention-grabbing persona as a tool, always taking that attention and casting it immediately toward what matters: the restaurants, the workers, the happy customers, the food, the food, the food.
To anyone who disparages his reign, we have only this to say: What did Guy Fieri ever do to you?