Rachel Maddow Turned Down $40 Million Salary with SiriusXM

SiriusXM offered Rachel Maddow a contract worth $40 million a year during her free agency period in 2021.

Maddow ultimately rejected the offer and re-signed with NBCUniversal for a salary of $30 million to host an MSNBC primetime program just once a week. A profile in Vanity Fair revealed the details of the SiriusXM offer.

During her free agency tour, Maddow spoke to just about every lucrative suitor: Sirius, NBCU, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Showtime.

Specifically, former CNN head Jeff Zucker offered Maddow around $15 million to lead the now-defunct CNN+.

Joining Sirius would have paired Maddow with a notable group of media stars, from Howard Stern to Megyn Kelly to Conan O'Brien. (Earlier this year, O'Brien agreed to sell his podcast company Team Coco to SiriusXM for $150 million.)

While Sirius came in with the highest offer, it included the heaviest workload with a weekday radio show. Maddow did not want to continue hosting a five-day-a-week program, a plan she told her agent before considering other offers. 

Re-signing with NBCU allowed Maddow to cash in, omit the daily grind, and pursue other projects. Under her new production company Surprise Inside, she is developing a podcast and a scripted TV series.

NBCU TV entertainment boss Susan Rovner says the show could air in 2023 on Peacock, explaining that "it revolves around a group of women in post–World War II America in Washington, D.C.."

You might read these details and wonder how someone with such unoriginal opinions could have such a high-demand market. Answer: Unlike most media personalities who share Maddow's elitist worldview, she produces results.

In 2021, her 9 p.m, program drew 1 million more viewers than the shows that aired at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The 9 p.m, hour on MSNBC ranks among the most-watched shows on cable the night she hosts and falls out of the Top 10 the rest of the week.

Despite lying about Donald Trump and Russia for years, Maddow has one of the highest Wins Above Replacement rates in news media.

Given what other schmucks without any reach make — CBS pays Stephen Colbert $15 million — NBCU paying Maddow $30 million a year sounds about right.

So, Sirius had to make an exceeding offer to get her to listen. And if it has to pay Howard Stern, a formerly great radio host, around $100 million a year, Maddow was worth about $40 million.