Victoria Arlen is wowing everybody with her moves on Dancing With The Stars this season. And for good reason. The ESPN reporter is in the ballroom after an incredible journey overcoming total paralysis and learning to walk again. Watching her dance feels like an actual miracle, so it's only natural to want to know everything about her. Like what else does she do? Where does she live? And what is Victoria Arlen's net worth? Inquiring minds want to know!
Arlen, now 23 years old, was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis when she was 11 years old and went into a vegetative state for four years. The disease affects the spinal cord so she was totally paralyzed. In 2010, she began to move some parts of her body again and speak. Just two years later, she competed on Team USA in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and won one gold medal and three silver ones. Now, she's an ESPN features reporter and total inspiration.
She's basically an IRL superhero. Exactly how much she's earned throughout her career is hard to track down, but according to Glassdoor, features reporters at ESPN make anywhere between $50,000 to $60,000 a year. But given her athletic history, it's possible that the cable network negotiated a higher salary to bring in her on-air talent.
Paralympic athletes earn some money for their medals, too, just like Olympians. But get this — they're actually worth less than Olympic medals, which is totally messed up. According to CNN Money, Paralympians get only $5,000 from the U.S. Olympic Committee for winning gold, while Olympians get $25,000 for their gold medals. Paralympians get $3,000 and $2,000 for silver and bronze medals, respectively, while Olympians get $15,000 and $10,000 for the same medals. So Arlen definitely earned money for her three silvers and one gold, but it could have been a lot more.
However, it's really not about the money for Arlen most likely. Not only did she learn to walk again, but she's dancing up a storm on national television every week. That's no small feat at all. She said that it was a very emotional experience for her, as you might expect. In a blog post she wrote for People, Arlen said:
I’ve watched this show throughout various hard situations in my life: from a hospital bed in the ICU, to sitting in a wheelchair at home. So to actually be standing in the center of that ballroom last week got me very emotional. It shot to the top of my ‘I’m glad I lived’ moments.
Not only did she go from a wheelchair to the dance floor, Arlen moved quickly. Although she was in a wheelchair for most of her teens, it's been just a over a year since she couldn't walk at all. It's unlikely she imagined that she would be doing a tango. Arlen attributes all that success to her partner Val Chmerkovskiy, who has been a great help.
She told People, "I have an incredible teacher, Val. He’s just really, really shown me far beyond whatever I thought I was capable of doing, whatever I though my legs were cable of doing.”
Arlen added, "Two years ago they weren’t even moving and now they’re tangoing because of Val.” Just being on the show has been an incredible experience already, Arlen says, if only because she's constantly facing how far she's come. She said watching the pre-recorded packages about her life gives her the inspiration to keep going. "I saw footage of me when I was really sick. It was like I was right back there for that moment fighting for survival. I could feel that fight."
It's no wonder she's so fierce on the dance floor. She really earned the experiences — although it seems like she's just getting started.
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