NEW YORK – No one on NBC's reality-dating series For Love or Money will ever become an instant millionaire from appearing on the show -- even if the winner opts for the $1 million prize.
Turns out the prize money is an annuity to be paid out over - get this - 40 years!
Even the New York State Lottery's payment plan only extends for about 26 years.
On the show, a group of 15 single women compete for the affection of bachelor Rob Campos. Each week he's eliminated one or more of the girls. Now it's down to two. In the end, the girl he chooses will have the option of taking him or the money.
On Monday night, Campos will choose either Paige Jones, 21, or Erin, 30, from San Francisco.
If the winner takes the money, it will be paid out as an annuity of $25,000 year - before taxes.
Most game shows and reality shows will cut the winner a check for the full amount of the prize money and then let the contestants deal with taxes.
On Big Brother, the winner gets a $500,000 check as soon as he or she leaves the house, while on Survivor the winner is given $1 million the day after they're named sole survivor.
And while some reality show winners have complained that their shows' pay-out plans may have been a bit tardy - Joe Millionaire winner Zora Andrich (search) had to wait about a month after she was crowned the winner for her $500,000 - none so far have offered a payment plan that spans four decades.
For Love or Money states its prize policy in small print for about half-a-second during the end credits.
"The prize, which totals $1,000,000, is payable in a financial annuity based over 40 years, or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of the foregoing annuity," the credits read.
At current interest rates, a pre-tax lump sum might be worth $800,000 or so, according to insurance experts
"The language in the end credits accurately describes how the prize is to be paid," producers said in a statement yesterday. "The participants had been informed of this fact. Our understanding is that other prizes, including some state lotteries, are paid out in similar fashion."
Financial experts say if the show's winner chooses the money, the best bet would be to take the forty- year payment plan, even though the lump sum seems more attractive.
"There is a real value to the annuity [annual payment] '' said Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers. "While at first glance, an individual may perceive it as something that is far less than that big prize, over the long term it is the big prize because consistent income over forty years is truly a prize.
"An individual who would be accepting that form of payment is someone who would be putting a pretty strong lock on their financial security," Dolan said.