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Each TLD has its own operator. You pay that operator an amount they usually define to have them serve your nameserver records. It's used to pay for the immense volume of DNS requests resolving your domain to your NS and to build a (profitable) company.

Root servers only point to TLDs; they do not collect money or register domains.

Yes, and in turn the TLD operator requires the rootserver operators, am I missing something? It is only appropriate that part the funds they collect be distributed to those that operate the rootservers.

By calling it bizarre, I was only reflecting on how arbitrary the parties involved in rootserver operation seemed to be.

We could imagine internet company X paying ISP y just to have X.tld resolve to the appropriate server, and other stranger scenarios.

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