Here's how much money Jon Heder made for Napoleon Dynamite

There was a brief moment in American history where we all thought Jon Heder was the next big thing. It was a strange time. We were all still drinking Sprite Remix and everybody knew exactly one person with a MiniDisc player.

The precipitating incident was as follows: in 2004, an indie comedy called Napoleon Dynamite. It was frickin' sweet lightning in a bottle: an ultra low budget movie that made back over a hundred times its costs. The star was relative unknown Jon Heder, a BYU alum who, with his lanky presence and beyond-weird demeanor and dance skills, captured hearts the world over.

Yes, Napoleon Dynamite was the sleeper hit of the year, which is why it's so surprising to learn that reportedly, the star initially only banked $1,000 for his role. Life is all about perspective, and while a cool grand is about a thousand dollars more than any of us will get paid to pretend to be Napoleon Dynamite, it's also around half what the Dynamite's team likely paid for Tina the Llama (according to estimates from and doesn't even approach covering the cost of a liger.

Dynamite was an explosive career move

Don't feel too bad for the guy. Eventually, he renegotiated his contract to include a piece of the action. And what he didn't make in an up front paycheck he more than made up for with the career that he piggybacked off of his success. While he never hit Avengers level stardom, Heder still managed to rock a Hollywood presence that most people never get to see up close. His iMDB page lists over seventy acting credits over the last fifteen years, including recent recurring voice work on Star vs. the Forces of Evil. 

The rest of the Napoleon Dynamite crew has done just fine as well. Efren Ramirez, the actor who played Pedro, has racked up several dozen more acting credits, including both Crank movies and 2019's Perpetual Grace, LTD. Deb went on to appear in Veronica Mars and True Blood. And for the nostalgic reader, it's worth mentioning that the whole crew got back together for 2012's short lived Napoleon Dynamite animated series.