Law pays well, but syndicated TV pays better—way, way better. Judge Judy works only five days per month, but makes $45 million per year, which translates to $865,000 per work day, according to a New York Times interview with the feisty daytime TV icon. Her big haul is just the result of the popularity of her program, she explains simply. "It’s like tuna fish on toast," she says. "If I owned a luncheonette and somebody who worked really hard for me saw at the end of the day my profit from making a tuna fish on toast was $1.50, they would want half the profits from that tuna fish sandwich."
Judge Judy—aka Judith Sheindlin—signed a two-year contract extension in May, which will take her show through its 19th year. The show actually had better ratings than Oprah during the queen of talk's final year. Although Sheindlin's salary is almost as much as Jay Leno's and David Letterman's combined, she's cagey when confronted with details about her 24,000 square-foot home on 23 acres in Connecticut. "A whole bunch of people have bigger houses," she says. "There’s that guy in Sagaponack whose house makes mine look like a shack."