Nadya Suleman is already profiting from the birth of her octuplets. In addition to a new website that requests donations and increased public assistance, there are rumors that she was paid for her NBC interview.
A source tells the New York Post, "Everything was filmed. The birth, everything. Then [Suleman's people] said negotiations would start at $1.2 million for the video and pictures, which is when producers from Oprah Winfrey, ABC and CBS left the room. NBC stayed." The source believes that NBC made a "donation" to Suleman through an intermediary, though NBC vehemently denies the claim. "NBC News does not pay for interviews," said a network representative. "We did not pay Nadya Suleman, or anyone who represents her, for our interview ... Not a dime."
But of course, the network did profit from Suleman's interview with Ann Curry. The Washington Post reports that the Dateline interview attracted 11.3 million viewers Tuesday, delivering the news magazine's highest ratings since Matt Lauer interviewed Princess Diana's children in 2007. For comparison, NBC's broadcast of the Golden Globes drew 15 million viewers last month, and the network's election-night coverage had 12.3 million viewers.
Whether NBC made a "donation" to Suleman for the interview or not, she is now collecting money through her website. As CNN explains, the site features pictures of the octuplets and says the "proud mother of octuplets" is accepting donations using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and PayPal. There is also the option to leave a comment, though none of the wishes people have left for the family are displayed.
California taxpayers would probably have some choice comments for Suleman, as news that she will be receiving even more assistance from the state has provoked an angry response from residents. CBS News reports that Suleman has already been using public assistance to help raise her six previous children, receiving $490 per month in food stamps and Social Security disability payments for three of her children. One of Suleman's previous six children is autistic, and two have undisclosed disabilities. In California, a low-income family can collect Social Security payments of up to $793 a month for each disabled child, with three children adding up to $2,379. Suleman said in her interview with Ann Curry that she does not consider the aid a form of welfare and doesn't intend to be on it for long.
But, the hospital where the octuplets will spend seven to 12 weeks has requested reimbursement from the state Medicaid program to care for the premature babies. The figure has not been disclosed, but in 2006, the average cost of a premature baby's hospital stay was $164,273 in California and the average cost for just one cesarean birth was $22,762. Using these figures, the cost of caring the premature octuplets would total nearly $1.5 million dollars before they even left the hospital.
This news, in addition to the fact that Suleman paid for her fertility treatments using $165,000 in disability payments, supported her children with student loans, and plans to enroll in California State University and rely on the school's day care to care for her children, has not gone over well with California taxpayers. Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten says that the Suleman story is "grotesque," and said, "it appears that, in the case of the Suleman family, raising 14 children takes not simply a village but the combined resources of the county, state and federal governments."