Amazon boss Jeff Bezos admitted he has shelled out big bucks to hire the brawling British TV star Jeremy Clarkson to star in a new reality franchise.
The Seattle billionaire was cagey about precise figures when asked in an interview, saying only that Clarkson — who was fired as host of the UK car show “Top Gear” after assaulting a producer — was “very, very, very expensive.”
Some media reports have estimated the pricetag for Clarkson coming to Amazon Prime’s streaming video service — whose hits have included Golden Globe winner “Transparent” — may have come as high as $250 million for a 36-episode, three-year deal.
“It can’t just be one show, it has to be a number of things,” Bezos told the UK’s Sunday Telegraph. “We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love. And I think Clarkson’s new show is going to be one of those.”
Amazon’s as-yet-unnamed show will also feature co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond along with producer Andy Wilman — and all of them are likely to get handsome payouts, Bezos hinted.
“They’re worth a lot and they know it,” he said.
Top Gear was a cash cow for the BBC, distributed in more than 100 countries before Clarkson’s violent outburst got it canceled.
The high-stakes gambit is the latest for Bezos, who is looking to establish Amazon as a beloved entertainment brand, even as it faces criticism about its hard-boiled business tactics.