The Situation in GQ: He Banked $5 Million This Year

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s moves may not have riveted Dancing with the Stars audiences this season, but the Jersey Shore’s breakout star has managed to parlay his 15 minutes of reality TV fame into earnings of $5 million this year alone. His recent profile in GQ’s Man of the Year issue shows that there is more to the 28-year-old star than GTL (Gym, tan, laundry).

Prior to Jersey Shore fame and long before his nickname became his calling card, the former mortgage broker was forced to live with his father on Staten Island following the collapse of the housing market. Since the first season of Jersey Shore, rumors swarmed that the ab-bearing adonis worked as a stripper to earn a living. Sorrentino admitted that although he modeled underwear, he was not a stripper, even though he he may have worn “like, a red-white-and-blue thong and maybe, like, an Uncle Sam hat. I didn’t mind the attention from pretty girls. But then if I got attention from unattractive girls, it just felt kind of cheap.”

These shirtless antics soon proved invaluable to Sorrentino’s introduction into the national spotlight. It is hard to believe that he almost didn’t make the first season of Jersey Shore at all.

Months before the Jersey Shore cast–as it is known today–taped Season 1, an entirely different cast, that included Sorrentino, was being followed in the land of blowouts, house shares and tanning salons. After MTV decided to pull the plug on the original Jersey Shore, producer SallyAnn Salsano (A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and Tool Academy) was brought in to re-cast the show. Sorrentino was the only original cast member brought back to shoot the revamped series.

Following the overwhelming success of Season 1, Sorrentino started capitalizing on every branding opportunity that presented itself, beginning with trade-marking catchphrases. He owns “GTL” as well as “Situation Nation” and is hoping to add “Fresh to Death,” “Grenade Free Foundation,” and “Sitch” to his portfolio in the near future. He also owns what he says is Leonardo DiCaprio’s favorite catchphrase, “If hating is your occupation, I got a full-time job for you.”

Sorrentino has also turned personal appearances into a lucrative venture. He used to pay to party and now he gets paid to club around the country. “I used to pay $10 to get in,” he says. “Now I get $10,000 to come. It’s funny how quick it goes from ‘Five grand, that’s so sick’ to that being shit money. Five grand’s shitty money now. It’s like, ‘Seriously?'”

His branding machine is still gaining momentum with endorsements from the likes of Reebok, Vitaminwater, Nox Edge, the world’s first chewable pre-workout supplement, and Devotion, the world’s first protein-infused vodka. His iPhone app was a bestseller and he even tried his hand at an unlikely crossover into music, with no such luck. Moreover, the Situation is reportedly set to see a $30,000 per episode pay day from Jersey Shore Season 3. The only endorsement deal he has turned down has been (surprisingly) a line of Situation condoms. The fitness world is not enough, however. The Situation’s next undertaking is an autobiographical self-help book, Here’s the Situation.

Sorrentino has seen much success as of late, but still aspires to be more than just a walking, talking tagline.

“I always had dreams,” he says, “my whole life, of being somebody special. Someone out in the world that everybody knew of and everybody liked. Somebody unique. Even when I was down on my luck, in my head I still had those dreams. Sometimes in people’s lives, when bad stuff happens, their dreams just die, and they end up settling. I guess that’s their decision, maybe, because they didn’t believe in their dreams or forgot their dreams. My dreams never died.”

Many would agree that Sorrentino’s fleeting (albeit entertaining) 15 minutes may soon be over, but the self-described “guido” survives on the promise of staying power.

“I understand that there’s going to be a shelf life for Jersey Shore,” he says. “What I’m trying to do is build a castle, so that when that shelf life falls off, I’ll be able to move forward in this field in an efficient and positive way. We’re fortunate enough that the business is a multimillion-dollar enterprise, but we would like to make it grow. At the end of next year, I want it to be a billion-dollar brand.”

(Photo Credit: Dewey Nicks / GQ)

Tags: Jersey Shore