TikToker shares What Sonic pays employees

@joothfairy/TikTok The Image Party/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘quit before i even started fr’: Worker quits Sonic job after finding out the pay is $5 per hour

'$5 is absolutely insane how is that livable'


Stacy Fernandez


Posted on Feb 11, 2024   Updated on Feb 14, 2024, 12:46 pm CST

Imagine going through a job’s entire interview process just to get a low ball offer. That’s what happened to this person.

In a viral TikTok that is nearing a million views, @joothfairy explained that they were looking for a job and went through the entire hiring process at Sonic—you know, the retro fast-food spot known for their foot-long chili cheese hot dogs, burgers, and milkshakes.

While fast food spots like Sonic are known to pay the minimum wage or just a few bucks above it, @joothfairy was shocked when, at the end of the process, they told them how much the position paid.

Remember that the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009. While states can set a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum (and dozens have), they cannot pay below this number, according to the United States Department of Labor.

That’s why we’re confused by the amount Sonic offered @joothfaity—a mere $5 an hour. That’s $2.25 less than the federal minimum wage. It’s possible that @joothfairy was offered a job as a tipped employee, in which case they can legally be paid below the minimum wage because of the assumption that the rest of their pay would come from tips.

“quit before i even started fr,” they said in a comment.

The video has amassed more than 845,000 views and 1,400 comments. Other former employees weighed in.

“as an ex sonic worker i used to make $2! the reason for that is because the “carhops” make tips! even if they aren’t much,” a commenter explained.

The last time the minimum wage was that low was in the late 1990s when wages went from $.75 an hour in 1996 to $5.15. According to the job site Indeed, employees on the lower end of Sonic’s pay make between $8 and $12 an hour.


♬ original sound – THATMIKAMF

A full-time worker making the federal minimum wage and working 40 hours a week without time off makes about $15,000 a year. If @joothfairymade $5 an hour at Sonic working full-time, that tanks their income to $10,400 for the same hours.

And that’s far from enough. A recent SmartAsset study found that the average worker needs to make $85,000 a year before tax (more if you live in a state with high taxes) to live comfortably.

The TikToker’s video exposes an issue in how much people are making in the United States and it resonated with viewers. Many people shared how much they make and recommended @joothfairy apply elsewhere.

“Fast food workers are paid like $20 here now. $5 is absolutely insane how is that livable,” a person said.

“‘but you make at least $15/hr including tips’ THE TIPS AINT GUARANTEED,” a commenter pointed out.

“i can’t find another job than starbucks bc i make 18$ since I been there so long everywhere else is like 13,” a viewer shared.

The Daily Dot reached out to @joothfairy for comment via Instagram direct message and to Sonic via email.

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*First Published: Feb 11, 2024, 11:00 pm CST