Do You Think The Sonic Guys Are Rich?

You know those questions that claw their way into your brain and won’t come out no matter what type of coaxing or heavy machinery you use? Ones like “Why don’t we just use soup spoons for everything, since they’re bigger and deeper and more mouth-shaped?” or maybe “Do we really need all these different kinds of bugs?” Well, I have one that’s bothered me for years, that I Google every few months hoping for a resolution, but the answer to which remains maddeningly elusive. And now I’m going to share it with you: How much do you think the guys from the Sonic commercials have made from the series?

I know this is a rude question. My parents taught me things that are and are not appropriate to discuss in public, with the latter category including questions about people’s personal finances. It’s not polite and it’s none of my business even by the most liberal interpretation of what “my business” entails (maybe if I owned stock in Sonic, or whichever multinational tater tot conglomerate owns Sonic?), but Oh my God I have to know someone tell me already.

I don’t even need a specific number. Just ballpark it for me. Like, are they rich? Not Bruce Wayne rich, obviously, but are they financially set for life? Or could they be, with a solid investment portfolio? A steady, high-profile commercial gig can pay really well. Listicles with dubious sourcing estimate that Flo from the Progressive commercials makes somewhere in the neighborhood of $800k/yr, and that the “Can you hear me now?” guy from the Verizon ads made $10 million over the life of his contract before he jumped ship to Sprint earlier this year. Do I buy those figures? No. But do I not buy them? Also no. What I’m getting at is that there is no number you could tell me for either of them that I wouldn’t simultaneously scoff at and talk myself into. Same with the Sonic guys.

Do you realize that they’ve been making those commercials for over 10 years now? Ten years! As far as acting gigs go, that is incredibly steady. (There was actually a two-year break and a big viral campaign about them coming back, none of which I remember. So maybe not that steady. But still.) Even if they’re getting paid the minimum rates for speaking roles in national commercials, that’s still nothing to sneeze at. And the smart money is on them making a heck of a lot more than the minimum. The closest I’ve gotten to an answer is a(nother) dubiously sourced website estimating that one of them has a net worth of $300,000, and this New York Times article about Sonic bringing them back, which closes with this:

Mr. Grosz, who said income from the commercials is primarily what paid for his home in Los Angeles, had been pleased when the previous campaign kept getting renewed year after year.

“At first it was gravy, and then it was a cherry on the top of the gravy,” said Mr. Grosz. “A lot of times, if you get paid it’s for really soul-sucking things, but I’m proud of what we’re doing with Sonic.”

Los Angeles house money! That is real money, man. And that article is over four years old. They’ve had almost half a decade of limeade money coming in since then.

(It’s also worth noting here that I have just been using the phrase “the Sonic guys” to describe two real people who have real names. T.J. Jagodowski and Peter Grosz, specifically. And they have careers outside of these ads. Especially Grosz, who has been a writer for The Colbert Report and Late Night With Seth Meyers, and has had a recurring role on Veep. I again cop to being rude here and would like to apologize to both actors and my mother, who undoubtedly raised me better than this. My mother, I mean. The Sonic guys did not raise me. That would have been weird.)

Let’s put it this way: Let’s say you’re in Las Vegas. Let’s say you’re there on vacation and you’re just about to check in to your hotel when you hear a commotion outside. Let’s say you run out there to see what’s happening and as soon as you open the door you see a stretch Rolls Royce limousine pull up. Let’s say a team of hotel staff rushes to the limo in full high-roller mode, opens the door, and the two Sonic guys step out in tuxedos and are promptly greeted by the manager, who says “Good to see you two again. Shall we book you the cabana for the week?,” to which one of them replies “That won’t be necessary, Charles. Just the suite.”

Would you be surprised?

Honestly, I wouldn’t.