Nerd prom is upon us, the one time a year when the people covering the White House get to cut loose, wear a color other than black or gray, and get drunk in the same room as the president of the United States. The White House Correspondents' Dinner, though one of the most entertaining things on C-SPAN each year, has gotten a lot of flack in recent years for its flashy celebration and celebrity draw. So how much does the White House Correspondents' Dinner cost, exactly? D.C.'s Hollywood night is definitely a pretty penny.
It's a little hard to put an exact price tag on the dinner, which is held at the Washington Hilton each year. Media companies shell out major bucks to sponsor tables in the ballroom, and individual tickets are available to members of the White House Correspondents' Association, the organization that hosts the dinner each year. Despite the criticisms of the dinner's glitz and glamour (there was an entire documentary, Nerd Prom, made about the exorbitant costs and relative uselessness of the dinner), the ticket prices do go to a good cause: The foundation uses the money to offer scholarships to journalism students. (Full disclosure: Yours truly received one of the awards in 2014.)
According to the Washington Post, media companies will shell out $2,750 for a table of 10 people (including celebrities for the big wigs), which factors out to roughly $275 per plate. That data, which comes from 2013, raises $150,000 in scholarships given by the nonprofit WHCA.
The cash flow doesn't stop there, though. Along with the main event, media companies throw out major bucks to host fancy-pants after parties at embassies and hotels, which have their own social currency and price tag. As the Post notes, a valet alone at a hotel could cost upward of $6,000. Not to mention finger foods (you've got to be hungry, because it isn't like you just ate a dinner... oh wait), security, insurance, and booze, which is free flowing at all White House Correspondents' Dinner-related events.
So what does it cost? In short, a lot. But it does have a good cause attached to it (free grad school year for me, heeeey!) and allows the people who spend their time keeping tabs on the government a night to relax. Washington, D.C., after all, is pretty uptight most of the year, so it's hard to really fault someone for one night of fun.