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Image: Amber Portwood
Madison County Sheriff Department  /  AP
"Teen Mom" star Amber Portwood is facing felony domestic battery and child neglect charges.
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updated 1/4/2011 11:05:45 AM ET 2011-01-04T16:05:45

Before you go making your next eggnog a double (OK, fine, triple), let's run down a few facts.

It's not surprising that reality stars make laughably high amounts of money (see also: Situation, The). But just how much is "Teen Mom's" most infamous trainwreck Amber Portwood pulling down in exchange for her dignity?

There's a six-figured rumor floating around the Internet, but could MTV really be rewarding the felony-facing, boyfriend-attacking, anger-mismanaging 20-year-old that handsomely? Hold on to your GEDs, this rumor is...

So true! What a lesson for the kids. And what an explanation for the inevitable 2011 surge in teen pregnancies.

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While in court this week to face up to the three felony and one misdemeanor charges argainst her for domestic violence and neglect (quite an example, eh, kids?), Portwood was asked some standard questions by the judge, including listing her occupation and salary.

'Teen Mom' Amber released from jail

Despite the objections of her attorney, Portwood was forced to reveal that she makes a whopping $280,000 per year for her MTV-airing shenanigans.

Let's take a moment and let that figure sink in.

Broken down, Portwood told the judge that she makes $140,000 per six-month contract with the cable net, and plans on working with them for the full year.

Which explains how she was able to post that $5,000 bail so quickly.

True, that kind of bank may undercut MTV's attempts at showing a real, struggling teen mom, but on the other hand, think of all the anger management classes she can afford! Win-lose.

Story: Lawyer: 'Teen Mom' reuniting with daughter

Presumably (hopefully) the majority of the money is going into a fund for Portwood's 2-year-old daughter Leah, since she and her "Teen Mom" brethren at least appear to be broke or close to it on the show.

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Or maybe they just haven't cashed the check yet? In any case, MTV knows a good thing when they see it, as "Teen Mom" is the second-most-watched show on the channel, behind (yep) "Jersey Shore."

While earlier this year, reports circulated that the girls involved in the show made somewhere between $60,000-$65,000 per 11-episode season, that is clearly no longer the case. Or maybe Portwood finally managed to activate her infamy clause.

PHOTOS: Teen Mom Amber's Family Album

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Video: ‘Teen Mom’ released from jail

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    >>> up.

    >>> let's begin with a harsh reality for a young woman featured on a hit reality show .

    >> reporter: amber portwood is on mtv 's "teen mom." she now faces felony charges in a story line that was not expected to be part of the show.

    >> amber --

    >> i swear to god, i wish i was bigger than you, would whip your --

    >> reporter: the episode seen by millions last september showed portwood slapping, kicking and cursing at her ex-fiance as their 2-month-old daughter looked on. when the scene aired on tv, the police department in anderson, indiana was flooded from calls from outraged viewers. police opened a criminal investigation and on monday, the madison county prosecutor's office charged the 20-year-old with two counts of domestic battery, one felony count of neglect of a dependent and one count of domestic battery.

    >> this is a decision she didn't really have control over, so we're going to do our best to respond and keep our family together.

    >> reporter: portwood appeared on an mtv reality show .

    >> were you blacked out?

    >> i don't remember it being like that. i feel like i hit him one time.

    >> amber, do you wish you hadn't done the show?

    >> reporter: late tuesday portwood posted $5,000 bail and with orders to stay away from her daughter and her ex-.

    >> most important to give some measure of comfort and safety to her child .

    >> for her part, amber portwood maintains her innocence. she faces up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted. and we reached out to mtv , they said we have no comment on portwood 's arrest.

    >> gail salt is a psychiatrist and a "today" show contributor, wendy murphy is a former prosecutor. five months for these charges to be brought.

    >> certainly the defense is going the raise it at a minimum with a jury if it ever gets to that point. why if it was all about this child what took so long? i think ultimately it will be a tough issue to make much of as a defense tactic. but i think it's an important question for the prosecutor to answer, what took so long?

    >> in the meantime, you have got exhibit a playing over and over again right here and you have the public that stepped forward and made the calls. how does the public play a role in this and does that help or hurt the prosecution?

    >> again, a really good question. prosecutors should not be making decisions to bring these kinds of serious charges based on how many e-mails they get. that's not the way the justice system works. on the other hand, lester, i think it's a terrific thing that these charges are being brought in part because i'm worried that reality television is making entertainment in terms of violence something we should be excited about. i hope that this puts the brakes on the idea that violence should be entertaining.

    >> that's a good point to bring gail in here, you say reality television , there's a performance art that comes with so called reality television . how does that play, gail ?

    >> i think it's very concerning. it's desensitizing all of us to what behavior is acceptable. even if it's not illegal, it's immoral. we can only speak with our television sets be so far we have been speaking we want to see this kind of thing and that's a bad message for adults and children. i would hope this would raise the awareness of domestic violence in terms of men. i think this is very much in the closet that there are women who hit men and men don't want to talk about it.

    >> the guy is less likely to call 911 and call the police.

    >> there aren't shelters for men, there aren't systems for men because this is kept under covers. because this absolutely happens, it absolutely robs a man of self-esteem. women have killed men in domestic violence .

    >> you mentioned children watching, when there's a child in the room, amber's 2-year-old. at that age, could she be affected by it?

    >> absolutely. even preverbally. kids have memories, incorporate them. i would be very concerned about this child because of the fact that the children who see domestic violence are much more likely to become victims or much more likely to become perpetrators of it and i think she would be at great risk with a mother this volatile and this potentially violent.

    >> she's been ordered to stay away from her ex and her dare.

    >> you don't have to be charged with a crime for things like neglect and exposing your child to your own form of violence. i don't see that happening, lester. she doesn't have a record. she's a young mom. but she should take a lesson here, she thought she was winning ratings for this television show and now she may well land in jail.

    >> and i have got to ask you, it was a television show , there were cameras rolling, there were producers in the room is there any culpability that those who witnessed this firsthand might be in?

    >> technically the answer is yes. i don't expect charges, but under indiana law unlike most states, a person not just a care giver, any person who witnesses the neglect of a child is mandated to report and as far as we know no one at the television show reported or reportedly cared about the well-being of the child or the child 's father.

    >> we'll have to end right

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