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America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Viewer backlash after true salary exposed in doc

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America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Viewer backlash after true salary exposed in doc
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
June 24, 2024
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Netflix’s new documentary series America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders has received backlash from viewers are revealing the “shocking” pay disparity between the highly accomplished cheerleaders, who are paid equal to a “full-time Chick-fil-A worker”. 

The new series showcases the intense routine to make it as a cheerleader in the highly competitive, elite squad, including demanding physical appearances as well as high levels of athleticism and training for the impressive routines - all while revealing that they are paid a wage that means some of them require second jobs. 

WATCH: America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders trailer

How much are they paid? 

According to Forbes, the cheerleaders make around $15-20 per hour, for an annual salary of $22,500. Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys are one of the richest sports franchises in the world, with a $9 billion net worth. 

In the documentary, the Cowboys’ chief brand officer Charlotte Jones said: “There’s a lot of cynicism around pay for NFL cheerleaders—as it should be. They’re not paid a lot. But the facts are, they actually don’t come here for the money. They come here for something that’s actually bigger than that to them. They have a passion for dance. There are not a lot of opportunities in the field of dance to get to perform at an elite level. 

Have you been watching AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?
Have you been watching AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?

"It is about being a part of something bigger than themselves. It is about a sisterhood that they are able to form, about relationships that they have for the rest of their life. They have a chance to feel like they are valued, they are special, and they are making a difference. When the women come here, they find their passion and they find their purpose.”

The women are paid slightly over the minimum wage
The women are paid slightly over the minimum wage

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, to discuss, one person wrote: “Not sure what’s happening at Netflix lately but the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders doc could be an even bigger backfire than Baby Reindeer.” Another person added: “I hope the end result is the women getting paid properly. And I hope they are getting paid for this doc.” 

Fans have criticised the series
Fans have criticised the series

A third person added: “Charlotte Jones acknowledging and validating  #AmericasSweethearts low pay because it’s a ‘dream’ to even make the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders team is so gross. Ya'll should be lifting women up. Not perpetuating the cycle.” 

Another person added: “Me watching this Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders doc: LADIES, YOU’RE BEING EXPLOITED FOR PROFIT AND THEY’RE SELLING IT AS A PRIVILEGE FOR YOU TO BE A PART OF THE TEAM.” 

The new series follows the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders squad from 2023 to 2024 season, from auditions to training camp to performing throughout NFL season.

The show has come under fire
The show has come under fire

Speaking about the wage issue on the show, Emmy award-winning director Greg Whiteley, who worked on the series, said: “It never occurred to me that they had to have other jobs to pay the bills. All of them fall into a certain age category where they’re beginning to ask some of the bigger questions of life. Who am I? What am I going to do with my life? 

"Especially, what am I going to do now that I'm done being a DCC, which was the story of Caroline Sundvold. She was the face of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Now she's retired, and what next?” 

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