How Much Do People Earn?

Check out who had a big pay day last year and who scraped by.

April 10, 2008 — -- It's a titillating piece of information people often wonder about, but rarely ask for fear of being rude. Just how much money does your boss, your neighbor or your friend earn?

Parade Magazine has compiled the answer to that question for a variety of professions for its annual "What People Earn" issue and as expected, the disparities can be astounding.

"The average American this year made something like $37,000. Celebrities went into the stratosphere," said Parade Magazine editor Janice Kaplan.

Fantasy vs. Reality

In the case of "Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay, fantasy bodes better than reality. The actress took home $7 million for playing a detective on television.

But Parade found a real detective in Fayetteville, Ga., who takes home $40,000. It's a stark contrast, but this salary is actually above the national average.

Here is how some other celebrities and everyday people stacked up.

Oprah Winfrey trumped all other celebrities and electrified her bank account, earning $260 million last year.

Money even has gone to the dogs. Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, made more than 112 regular people who participated in the article. The "Queen of Mean" left a trust fund for her beloved Maltese that was worth $12 million. That's a lot of kibble.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning scored a Super Bowl ring and super payday with $11.5 million.

A rodeo steer wrestler from Wyoming roped in a bullish $178,000.

On the lower end of the spectrum was a 26-year-old Peace Corps volunteer from Los Angeles, who took home only $2,900.

A Pueblo, Colo., minister made $9,000 and a Dolton, Ill.,school lunchroom worker earned $5,300.