Here's How Much Rick Astley Makes From His Rickroll Meme

In these troubled times, we have to capture those precious moments of joy, silliness and fun wherever we can. One classic example of all three is the rickroll, wherein the prankster hopes they can deceive their target(s) into clicking a link to Rick Astley's timeless "Never Gonna Give You Up." (If you somehow managed to miss it, the video is still posted on YouTube.) As Internet pranks go, the rickroll is rather harmless. It's just an unexpected, hidden link to the classic music video. It works in all kinds of contexts, and it's always glorious. Has anyone stopped to think about Astley himself, the butt of millions of viral jokes?

As it is, the deep-voiced crooner doesn't really take issue with rickrolling at all, it seems. As he explained to "News Breakfast" in 2020, he's thrilled with the fact that the hit continues to live on. He said (via ABC News (Australia) on YouTube), "the rickrolling thing, I'm all over it," explaining that "it means that a lot of people know that tune who wouldn't have had a chance to hear it." On top of this, there's the good-old-fashioned fact that publicity almost always proves lucrative, and Astley has reportedly done very well out of the rickrolling trend.

He has made a lot more than $12, it seems

According to Mental Floss in 2015, the period up to 2010 saw Astley raking in just $12 from the rickrolling craze. While you might expect to see several more zeroes in that sum, there's a simple reason why there wasn't, the outlet reported.

Astley is indeed the face and silky-smooth voice of "Never Gonna Give You Up." He is the man who pledges not to give us up, let us down, run around or, indeed, desert us. The fact that he's still performing the song decades later proves that he was serious about this promise, too. The only issue, Mental Floss goes on, is that the copyright of sound recordings is also shared with the writer of a given song. "Never Gonna Give You Up" was penned and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, according to the "A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman" Podcast (per Apple).

Astley himself, however, denied the claim that rickrolling earned him just $12. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything in the late 2010s, he was asked this very question, and his response was telling: "... if I'm gonna be absolutely honest, I was paid a chunk of money to do a commercial for Virgin, and also I rickrolled the Macy's Day Parade and they paid me a chunk of money for that," he wrote, concluding that "I have been paid well twice, for rickrolling."

More than 1 billion YouTube clicks helps too

The pop legend was referring, per Entertainment Weekly, to two memorable moments. The first occurred at the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, during which he interrupted a very different song with his own beloved hit. Seven years later, he destroyed a huge cake by emerging from it warbling "Never Gonna Give You Up" in a Virgin Mobile commercial. Needless to say, these two high-profile events would have each constituted quite the payday, though Astley isn't forthcoming on just how much.

With regards to the iconic "Never Gonna Give You Up" music video itself, the Influencer Marketing Hub boasts a handy tool it calls the YouTube Money Calculator. It provides approximate values for YouTube channels and individual videos, using factors such as earnings for each subscribed user, engagement on individual videos and earnings from video views. The Estimated Total Earnings Per Video section determines that the official music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up," which has exceeded a remarkable 1 billion views, has earned a substantial $2 million.

In the Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Astley wrote that he has "never even tried to find out what was actually made from the YouTube hits — I've never really thought about it. I don't really care." Clearly, though, we're talking big numbers, on top of the very fact that rickrolling has had a huge impact on keeping the artist relevant today. It seems Internet memes really can be a force for good.