Just Gonna Say It: Love Island Winners Splitting The Prize Money Is TV’s Most Tired Moment

love island prize money

Every time a Love Island finale rolls around I’m reminded of the dumbest element of the entire show — where the winners are asked to choose between money (taking the full $50,000 prize money) or love (splitting the cash prize with their partner).

No one in the history of Love Island Australia’s four seasons has ever taken the entire prize kitty for themselves. So why the hell are we still entertaining it?

The winners of every season are chosen by the public, and it’s common sense for viewers to pick a strong couple; a couple that’s already declared their love for each other, committed to a relationship or at least shown promise for the future outside of the villa. It’s literally what the whole show is about. 

That alone torpedoes the likelihood of the winning couple doing anything other than splitting the money. If they’ve shown enough respect for one another to be chosen by the public as winners, are they really going to disrespect each other the moment their names are announced?

Not to mention — they’ve basically been validated by the general public as likeable people, something that would be immediately reversed should they choose to publicly humiliate their partner with greed.

davide liar actress

Considering the almost-guaranteed influx of Instagram followers on the horizon for the crowned couple, let’s not pretend that any winner — who likely went on the show for the prospect of a social media career — would jeopardise that for the sake of an extra $25,000. They can make that money and more in #sponsored Instagram posts once they’re reunited with their social media accounts.

The prize pool is bigger for the UK version at £50,000 (just over $91,000 AUD) but either way, both the winners and popular contestants stand to earn more than that figure in the 12 months following their stint on the show. Interestingly, Love Island UK scrapped the ‘split or steal’ choice in Season 8 after the previous seven winners all decided to split the money.

It’s been just under six months since Davide Sanclimenti and EkinSu Cülcüloğlu won Love Island UK Season 8 and, according to Irish Mirror, they have an earning potential of $13,000 and $20,00 AUD per Instagram post respectively. A joint sponsored Instagram post? They’re looking at more than $34,000 AUD.

Obviously Love Island UK is a totally different ballgame when it comes to global exposure. According to So Dramatic, Love Island Australia Season 3 winners Tina Provis and Mitch Hibberd had the earning potential of $682 and $501 respectively per Instagram post (before they returned for Season 4).

But we’re talking the long-game here. Their chances of continuously making sponsored content coin off the television time is even higher when they’re well-liked and gain more followers that stay after the show’s stopped running — just look at Domenica Calarco‘s profile compared to Olivia Frazer‘s when it comes to partnerships.

Of course the addition of OnlyFans money changes everything on this front as there’s no need for ideal brand alignment According to So Dramatic, Love Island Australia‘s Vanessa Sierra makes an estimated $428,000 AUD per month in OnlyFans subscriptions alone. But a following is a crucial element of this type of success, something many Love Island contestants have something of a semblance of before even entering the villa.

love island prize money

Liked by the public or not, chances of making $25,000 or more are increased by going on a reality show — whether they win or not. So is it really about winning the money, or about making enough of an impact during the show to make above and beyond the allocate prize pool?

If we’re honest, surely every Love Island contestant is there for money in some way, shape or form. Sure, it’s nice that Nine curated a buffet of extremely good-looking people for them to date, but why else would they make out with several people on television if there wasn’t something (other than a potential partner, which they can find in the real world) in it for them?

Love Island Australia Season 1 winner Grant Crapp is a good example of this. He had a girlfriend back at home while developing his relationship with fellow winner Tayla Damir, who said Crapp was only on the show to promote his fashion line (which his girlfriend was managing while he was on the show).

The only entertainment-specific injustice here is that Damir was the one who picked the $50,000 prize money, giving her the option to split the money with Crapp or take the whole thing. Would he have continued his douchebaggery towards Damir and ran with the entire prize pool if he’d picked the right card?

It’s still a doubtful outcome given that action would’ve made people dislike him and his business in the process. Ironic, really, because he managed to do that without even being offered the choice of taking the money. Fun fact: Damir has 506,000 Instagram followers whereas Crapp has 192,000… and he went on another (extremely unsuccessful) show this year.

Anyway, now that the precedent has been set that you split the Love Island prize money with your partner, we can only assume that every couple from here on in will follow suit — otherwise they’d really cop shit for the shock factor alone. And that’s why I wasn’t surprised — just uncomfortable — when Sophie Monk asked Love Island Australia Season 4 winner Claudia Bonifazio if she wanted to split the money with Austen Bugeja or take it all for herself. I think you know what her answer was.

love island australia claudia

Those two are clearly obsessed with each other, I don’t doubt that. But I’m also sure the incoming joint Instagram posts will make Claudia’s decision to choose love a profitable one. So let’s just scrap the awkward last minute of the show, yeah? There are so many other chaotically entertaining areas of the series without posing a silly rhetorical question at the conclusion of it.

They’ll always choose money secretly by choosing love publicly.

Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer. You can follow her here