Jimmy Kimmel wows Washington's 'Nerd Prom.' What's he get paid for that?

A little sleuthing of public documents from past White House Correpondents' Dinners suggests the night's entertainment, Jimmy Kimmel, netted in the vicinity of $50k for his comedic services.

Larry Downing/Reuters
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner in Washington on Saturday.

Jimmy Kimmel was pretty much en fuego on Saturday night, wasn’t he? As our own publication’s report said of his appearance as headliner at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he had them “rolling in the aisles” of the huge Hilton ballroom.

We’re pretty sure that’s a figure of speech. They cram so many tables into that event you couldn’t roll a foot without knocking a waiter into Lindsay Lohan’s lap.

Anyway, Kimmel was bipartisan in his targets. Of failed GOP hopeful Rick Santorum, he said, “I guess it just wasn’t Rick’s year. Rick’s year was 1954.” He said libertarian Ron Paul “looks like the guy who gets unhooded at the end of every Scooby Doo episode.” Prior to telling a risque joke about the Secret Service, he told President Obama to cover up his ears, “if that’s physically possible.”

Looking out over the assembled journalists, government officials, lawmakers, lobbyists, and celebrities, he sighed and said, “Everything that is wrong with America is here tonight.”

Very nice. Maybe "The Colbert Report" will be able to work you in, Jimmy. But here’s our nerdish question: How much did Kimmel get paid for that? Is it lucrative to fly to DC and entertain a roomful of former student body vice presidents, and their guests?

Looks like it is to us. The exact amount of Kimmel’s pay isn’t public, or at least not yet. But you can get a pretty good idea of the financials of this whole dinner by leafing through the paper the WHCA has to file with the IRS. (Tax-exempt groups file a Form 990 that’s available to the public.)

We figure he made around $50,000, give or take ten grand.

In 2009, the latest year for which that form is available, the White House Correspondents’ paid $43,233 for the entertainment at their annual dinner. Since the headline comedian is the main entertainment, we’ll assume they get most of that.

In 2009, that comedian was Wanda Sykes, who was also pretty funny. But Ms. Sykes is not as big a star as Kimmel. Her talk show got canceled. His “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” appears to be going strong. So we’ll guess that Kimmel got a bit more than she did, a few years ago. That’s where our $50,000 estimate comes from.

The dinner expense data from 2008 and 2007 confirm this general estimate. Overall, the entertainment at the journalists’ dinner gets paid more than many journalists.

The dinner itself is a big financial deal. Gross receipts are about $600,000, which is more than twenty times what the WHCA takes in from other sources. About half of that pays for the room and meals, though, and $200,000 of it is used for journalist scholarships and other charitable endeavors.

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