This has been a long debated question since 2007 when Keeping Up with the Kardashians (KUWTK) became a reality TV hit. Since then, the family’s estimated net worth is $1.5 billion. This mass wealth has come from a variety of sources other than their TV show including fashion and cosmetic lines, mobile apps, games and product endorsements. According to CNBC, Kylie Jenner makes an estimated $1 million per paid Instagram post and the other sisters make in the six figures per endorsement post.
Call me crazy, but you don’t amass that kind of money over ten years without any talent. Kim Kardashian turned 15 minutes of fame from her infamous sex tape with singer Ray J into a billion dollar empire that has lasted over ten years for her and her entire family.
Ever since I can remember, I was in the bandwagon that hated the Kardashians for their vocally fried voices, stupid attitudes and the fact that were on the news for a new scandal every week. I never understood their talent. There is an iconic Barbara Walters interview where she bluntly asks the sisters why they’re famous because, “you don’t sing, you don’t dance, you don’t have any talent.” This past summer, everything changed when I spent two months binge-watching KUWTK and I finally understood their appeal.
They’re just so… relatable. Their family drama is ridiculous and over-the-top but it’s all believable because of how honest and open they are with filming. Their family drama is entertaining and the show openly tackles the family’s toughest struggles like divorce, cheating scandals and Caitlyn Jenner’s transition.
Also, if you follow them on social media, you can start to understand how they’ve made so much money over the years. The family has subtly become experts in digital advertising. Most ads or endorsements from celebrities look corporate and staged, but when the Kardashians advertise something, it comes off as a recommendation of the product from a friend.
Every time they upload a Snapchat story it starts with something like, “hey guys look what I just got” and then they proceed to show their audience a sneak peak into their personal lives. Most of what they share with the world is about their personal lives. What their kids are up to, where they’re traveling, what they’re eating, or who they’re hanging out with that day. Every so often an advertisement or endorsement is slipped into these videos/posts but at that point, it doesn’t feel like an overt sponsorship.
Communications researchers have coined the term, “para-social interaction” to explain the sense of friendship and closeness people feel to TV personalities who they have never interacted with in person. People feel this way with news anchors, sitcom stars and now the Kardashians.
Despite all of this, you don’t have to like them or approve of their actions, but you have to admit what they’ve built didn’t come from talentless people. They got their lucky break and ran with it and are now easily the most famous family in the world, and to me that’s talent.