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The top 4 late-night TV hosts earn millions of dollars a year—here's who makes the most

Late-night hosts have demanding jobs: They have to be funny in front of millions of viewers night after night, and their ratings rely on their performances.

But they are paid well for it. When Jon Stewart left Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" in 2015, he was the highest-paid late-night host on television. He walked away from over $25 million a year.

Though no one in late night is making quite that much now, they're all still doing nicely. In August, Variety ranked the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, and these four late-night hosts made the list.

1. Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon
Getty Images
Jimmy Fallon

Show: "The Tonight Show" on NBC
Estimated annual salary: $16 million

2. Stephen Colbert (tie)

George Clooney chats with Stephen Colbert on the premiere of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Tuesday Sept. 8, 2015.
Jeffrey R. Staab | CBS | Getty Images
George Clooney chats with Stephen Colbert on the premiere of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Tuesday Sept. 8, 2015.

Show: "The Late Show" on CBS
Estimated annual salary: $15 million

2. Jimmy Kimmel (tie)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tapes an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in Los Angeles, California, August 22, 2016.
Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tapes an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in Los Angeles, California, August 22, 2016.

Show: "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on ABC
Estimated annual salary: $15 million

3. Conan O'Brien

NUP_174300_0123.jpg
NBC | Getty Images

Show: "Conan" on TBS
Estimated annual salary: $12 million

Colbert and Kimmel were both nominated for a 2017 Best Variety Talk Series Emmy, along with Samantha Bee, John Oliver, James Corden and Bill Maher.

"The Daily Show," now hosted by Trevor Noah, has been nominated for the Short Form Variety Series category for its "Between the Scenes" edition. And "Late Night with Seth Meyers" has been nominated for its writing.

The fact that they didn't make Variety's list indicates that none of these other late-night hosts earn more than $3 million a year, since that's the lowest salary of any talk show host included.

Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight," just signed a new contract to continue his show through 2020. He was making $2 million a year, according to TV Guide's annual salary report, and HBO would not disclose his new salary.

As it happens, Variety's highest-paid actor in the "Reality/News/Host" category is not one of the late-night crew at all: it's Ellen DeGeneres, host of NBC's "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." She leads the pack with estimated earnings of $50 million a year, more than Matt Lauer, Judge Judy or even Jon Stewart at his peak.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC, MSNBC and CNBC.

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