Joe Millionaire was a reality TV show that aired in 2003 in which a group of woman competed to be chosen to marry a young, hot millionaire. What they didn't know what that it was all fake. The "millionaire" Evan Marriott, although hot, was a construction worker and underwear model. The winner would split a million dollars with Marriot, and maybe they'd find happiness together. Sarah Kozer was the ultimate runner-up, and tells us what went on during the filming of Joe Millionaire.
The premise of this show was supposed to be "A bunch of gold-diggers learn the guy they're swooning over is actually poor!" And then both Evan and the "winning woman" who doesn't care that he's broke would walk home with half a million bucks each. So none of the women could know about that prize money. According to Sarah, the only reward they were promised was jewelry:
"We did realize at a certain point that you received a 'gift' of jewelry if you 'passed' a round. So considering that we weren't being compensated for appearing on the show, the necklaces could've been a motivator to want to get picked. It also went along with their 'romance story' BS, so [it] seemed less skeevy than if we had known all along that there was prize money. They basically sold it as Evan was the big prize, so to speak, and that certainly wasn't a motivator."
According to Sarah, none of the women ever actually bought Evan Marriot as a real rich dude.
Kozer has a lot more to say about what went on behind the scenes of Joe Millionaire at Cracked.