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Could Snooki's Baby Make Her Millions? The Bizarre Business of Celebrity Babies

Piper Weiss
Shine from Yahoo! Canada
March 2, 2012

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi made a career out of hard-partying. Now she may do the same with motherhood. The reality star is reportedly three months pregnant and looking to profit from tabloid deals and product endorsement deals, according to the New York Post.

Snooki allegedly shopped a "pregnancy package" to magazines, an increasingly common practice among celebrities. In 2009, Kourtney Kardashian earned $300,000 from Life and Style in exchange for exclusive photos and news about the pregnancy, the birth and the post-baby transformation, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Six figures were spare change for stars back in 2008, the heyday for banking on celebrity baby photos. Power couple Brangelina sold the first photos of twins Viv and Knox for an estimated $14 million (the money earned from the record-breaking deal went to charity), the Associated Press reports. That same year, Matthew McConaughey's newborn landed $3 million for his first photo shoot in OK! Magazine. And J.Lo's twins brought home $6 million from People Magazine.

But the Internet, citizen journalism, and, of course, camera phones, have made it harder for magazines to ensure exclusivity. And with titanic celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z releasing the first pictures of Blue Ivy on tumblr for free, a snapshot of a lesser star's new arrival doesn't promise to translate at the newsstand.

Take Jessica Simpson, who allegedly asked $750,000 from tabloids in exchange for her exclusive pregnancy announcement and first photos. According to the New York Post, the major magazines weren't interested.

[See also: 10 illegal baby names]

"There is no longer money in baby pictures, at least not big money and that is why we see folks like Beyonce and Mariah releasing the pics on social media," Jo Piazza, author of Celebrity Inc: How Famous People Make Money, tells Shine."There simply isn't the same kind of cash available for baby pictures because magazines realized the pay off wasn't good enough." Piazza, a former gossip columnist turned celebrity payday expert, has watched the baby money-making industry evolve in recent years. Now the joy of celebrity motherhood is an investment in your own brand. Nicole Richie used exposure to launch a maternity line and ultimately rebrand her party girl image as a born-again earth mother. Meanwhile, Jay-Z and Beyonce have gone ahead and filed a trademark for their daughter's name, which has enough cache to launch a heap of product lines.

"It allows a celebrity to re-market their brand," says Piazza. "Great examples are Tori Spelling, Bethenny Frankel and Kendra Wilkinson, all of whom got their own reality shows just because they became moms. The payouts for those can be up to $1 million a year."

Snooki already has a reality spin-off show in production at MTV, which was likely negotiated before her pregnancy. But the exposure, the potential for a second season, a bigger payday and even a "bringing up baby" spin-off is highly possible if she remains as entertaining sober as she does inebriated, according to one veteran reality producer not connected with Snooki's series.

[See also: How babies get their faces]

Being a mom also lends itself to being a spokesperson for high-profile ad campaigns. Tina Fey reportedly earned $1 million as an American Express spokesperson, a gig that included a print ad featuring her young daughter.

Someone like Snooki isn't likely to command that kind of money but she may be able to rack up deals endorsing baby products on Twitter.

"Tori Spelling now makes money to tweet for family friendly products, likely in the range of $100,000 a year," claims Piazza. "That's something Snooki could command."

In fact, Piazza believes the Jersey Shore star could earn around $2 million from her pregnancy if she plays her cards right. It's not exactly the kind of expectations most women have when they're expecting. And it doesn't necessarily bode well for the child, already put to work in the womb.

Ironically, Snooki's financial success will depend a lot on how she is as a mom. Hot tub hookups and drunken run-ins with cops have helped brand the reality star initially, but if she keeps that up as a mother, nobody will want her endorsing their baby products or posing for family photos. Same goes for her TV opportunities. MTV already has one show about immature, unprepared moms struggling to raise their kids. Will they really want another?

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