How Bethenny Frankel’s RHONY Deal Changed TV Contracts Forever

Bethenny Frankel is an established entrepreneur and businesswoman who began her career in the public eye in the late aughts on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York.”

Frankel’s success has been in part due to her “never settle” attitude and not being afraid to speak up for herself when something feels off. That’s why she’s “credited” with changing the scope of reality television contracts forever, with a clause widely known throughout the industry as “The Bethenny Clause.”

Related: Bethenny Frankel on Her Approach to Business and Negotiating Deals: ‘I’m Good at Concepts, Not Contracts’

In an Instagram Reel, Frankel answered a fan’s question about how much money she was offered for her initial RHONY contract in 2008. Frankel said the number was $7,250 and that she “did not dispute” it.

“I was a nobody. That was a lot of money to me,” Frankel explained. “The only thing I did cross out was the thing that said Bravo would take a percentage of anything I made … Somewhere down deep inside of me, I understood conceptually that that was wrong, that I was going places and I was going to do something and no one was going to own any part of it.”

In 2011, Frankel sold the cocktail portion of her now-renowned Skinnygirl company to Beam Global for an estimated $100 million, which garnered the attention of the industry at large making TV execs squirm over “lost” money.

Now there’s something called the “The Bethenny Clause” in some reality television contracts, which requires casts member on certain shows to sign away a percentage of their earnings to “the powers that be,” as Frankel puts it.

“You are smarter than you think,” Frankel told viewers. “I was not a business person. I had no institutional knowledge or experience in any of this. I read a contract, something didn’t feel right to me, and I took it out. And it changed my entire life.”

Frankel told Entrepreneur in 2021 that before closing the initial deal with Beam Global in 2011, the company wanted to buy the Skinnygirl company as a whole, something she negotiated against and in doing so, was able to keep the name of the Skinnygirl brand and its intellectual property.

“I said, I’m not doing that — you guys only specialize in liquor, so keep the liquor,” Frankel explained to Entrepreneur at the time regarding the acquisition. “So [Beam] paid me and bought a brand, which is really unprecedented. That really doesn’t happen … I was just thinking logically about that. And I’ve had so many things in my career that have been like that.”

Frankel is worth an estimated $80 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

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