Oh I really think they are being compensated by the network. I do believe they HAD out of pocket expenses initually but are being compensated now.
I mean I really enjoy the show and follow it but this and shows like Gold Rush and even Alaskan Bush People, there are "paychecks" involved once ratings escalate and are providing an interest.
To find out how old the first one is (it's not that collectible unfortunately, as far as I know) there should be two digits where the hobbleskirt bends inward. It'll say "49" or something like that,...