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Kim Kardashian's $28 Million Year: How She Made More Than Ever Before

Kim Kardashian has cemented her status as the queen of the famous-for-being-famous this year, raking in an estimated $28 million over the l...

Kim Kardashian has cemented her status as the queen of the famous-for-being-famous this year, raking in an estimated $28 million over the last 12 months.

She lands on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list at a respectable #80, above Oscar-winning actresses Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman, as well as powerhouse authors Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Veronica Roth.

Kardashian, 33, is the only star to make our 2014 list with reality television as her main claim to fame.

Other list members like Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest made their fortune conceiving of, and producing, such shows; “Kim K”, as she is often dubbed, built her brand as the protagonist of her family’s E! Network hit Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

The bulk of the Los Angeles-based beauty’s fortune is now derived from sources other than her show, however. For instance, in 2013-2014 she made more cash from public appearances — that is, showing up at club and shop openings, parties, or events — than she did for any of her television work.

Other sources of income include a cut of wholesale earnings from the Kardashian Kollection, a clothing line sold at Sears that she promotes alongside sisters Khloe and Kourtney.
Kim Kardashian backstage at a 2010 event. Photo via Wikipedia.
The family fashion empire made upwards of $600 million at retail in 2013, according to celebrity branding sources in the know. A standard wholesale cut would have made the Kardashian sisters a combined $30 million, approximately.

Kim also receives a check from wholesale sales of the Kardashian Beauty cosmetics line (sold at CVS and Kroger among other large chains) and Kardashian-branded tanning products, including ‘Sun Kissed’ self-tanner and ‘Glow’ bronzer.

She takes a cut of revenue from DASH, a four-strong chain of boutiques selling the sort of sexy, clingy party dresses she and her sisters are often captured wearing by paparazzi.

The smallest component of her annual entertainment income comes from social media. The Kardashian clan is paid to tweet out ads to their many millions of fans; Kim alone has 21.9 million followers on Twitter and 15.7 million on Instagram. Such is her popularity that a recent shot of the star wearing a blonde wig received well over 700,000 Instagram “likes.”

It’s partly Kim’s social media saturation that saw her make this list given stiff competition in the Personalities category from huge earners and influencers like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

As Forbes’ Los Angeles bureau chief Dorothy Pomerantz explains, we measure fame in a variety of ways for this annual list. We count how many times each celebrity was mentioned in print, on TV and radio. We factor in a score from StarCount for social media power over 11 platforms including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

This year we’ve also added an impact score, similar to the one we use for our Power Women list. Based on reporting by our editorial staff, the number measures the impact each celebrity has on the entertainment industry and our culture overall.

Neither of Kim’s sisters came close, earnings-wise, to Kim’s $28 million haul this year per Forbes’ calculations. Both Kourtney, 35, and Khloe, 30, command significantly less money for public appearances, and — despite their fair share of tabloid covers — can’t compete with Kim’s prowess dominating both traditional and social media.

(It’s worth noting that Kim collects a check for both Keeping Up With The Kardashians and for her supporting role on her sisters’ vehicle, Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons, such is the perceived importance of her involvement by E! executives.)

Khloe made the list in 2012 after garnering plenty of press for marrying basketball star Lamar Odom. The two have since split.
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