If aliens invade tomorrow, and their three-headed anthropologist leader demands an exemplary sampling of the human population to decipher what it means to be a citizen of our world today, I would encourage President Obama to offer up the Kardashian family.
They are, after all, what the majority of humans in our selfie-obsessed global capitalist culture want to be: famous. Sure, Obama should also throw in some human rights activists and the creators of Buffy to prove that there’s good in the world. But like it or not, the Kardashians are inescapable and iconic — the insanely successful results of Kris Jenner’s experiment to turn the American family into a group venture. Together they are collectively worth close to $300 million and have a combined half-a-billion followers on social media. How best to assess the Kardashian empire? I suggest we individually examine their most valuable assets: themselves. And so, I’ve compiled a Kardashian Kase File, which documents each family member’s contributions to the brand and ranks them according to combined social media followers. So join me as I attempt to decode the secrets of this family’s success, and venture deep into a Kardashian K-hole.
Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images.
8. Caitlyn Total Followers: 11.23m Estimated Net Worth: $100 million Job Titles: Reality star/Transgender activist/Former Olympian/ H&M model/ Ted Cruz ambassador?! Kardashian Status: Lost In Translation Oh, Caitlyn. She started out so strong, with the luminous Vanity Fair cover, her subsequent media parade, and the subtle shade of spelling Caitlyn with a C. (One can only imagine the Kris Jenner head explosion that followed in the wake of Caitlyn’s rejection of the Kardashian-brand “K.”) But though Caitlyn’s coming-out party was initially celebrated as a triumph for the transgender community, her subsequent behavior disappointed many of her fans. There was her unwillingness to support gay marriage during an appearance on Ellen, the multiple lawsuits that followed her involvement in a multi-car accident (it’s unlikely that you’ll find Carrie Underwood singing “Jenner, Take the Wheel” anytime soon), and her recently expressed desire to be Ted Cruz’s “trans ambassador.” All the social media backlash has been a lesson in the dangers of alienating your fan base. And yet, through all the controversy, Caitlyn gained the one thing that the Kardashians value above all else: attention. Despite the unpopularity of her conservative viewpoints, she’s stayed true to herself and trended while doing so. Business Takeaway: In the age of social media, there is such a thing as bad publicity. Offending your target audience can lead to career-ending backlash. Caitlyn’s got a pre-existing fortune to fall back on — but most of us don’t.
Photo: Steven Lawton/WireImage.
7. Rob Total Followers: 12.09m Estimated Net Worth: $2.75 million Job Titles: Brother/ Weed-smoking gamer/Sock “designer” Kardashian Status: Pariah Carey Rob won second place on Dancing with the Stars! Good job, Rob! He also designs socks! And...um...that’s about it. Look, let’s cut Rob some slack. He was denied a “K” at birth, proof of his mother’s plans to exclude him from her brand, uh, I mean family. Just think of all the cookbooks, apps, and talk shows that could have been, if only he’d been named Kob. I imagine that members of '90s metal band Korn cry themselves to sleep every night over the kollaboration that never was: Korn on the Kob. Business Takeaway: When in doubt, launch a sock line. Everyone needs socks.
Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
6. Kris Total Followers: 22.38m Estimated Net Worth: $30 million Job Titles: Momager/Producer/Reality star/ Almost talk-show host/ Kookbook author Kardashian Status: Mom-chiavelli Kris Jenner is the one major flaw in the popular theory that the Kardashian children were forged in the fires of hell. One thing’s for sure: Regardless of your opinions of Kris Jenner, you can’t deny that the woman works hard for the money. Momaging is the oldest profession — how else do you think a single mom like Mary managed to convince everyone that her child was the son of God? Kris has taken a page from Mary’s playbook, and maybe her Rolodex too. She has pushed her children into the international spotlight with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and has kept them there through countless hours of arduous labor. Business Takeaway: Management is important, especially when launching a brand. Make sure someone with a vision is managing your career, whether that person is you or someone you hire.
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
5. Kourtney Total Followers: 66m Estimated Net Worth: $25 million Job Titles: Reality star/Boutique owner/ Sunless tanner/ Soap star (?) Kardashian Status: Spin-Off Queen Kourtney has been with the brand since its inception, and she’s an essential member of the original sister triumvirate at the heart of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kourtney has also become the spin-off queen, starring in (previously titled Kourtney & Kim Take Miami Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami), , and Kourtney & Kim Take New York and executive-producing Kourtney & Khloé Take the Hamptons; Dash Dolls, the reality series based in the Kardashians’ Hollywood boutique. Kourtney is a reliable franchise twerk-horse, dutifully promoting the Kardashian name. But her personal brand is the least distinct of all her sisters', which is perhaps why she comes in last in terms of total social media followers. Still, 66 million is nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re allergic to hardworking mothers of three. And let’s kut Kourtney a little slack: The poor woman is being forced to watch her evil (though hot) ex-boyfriend behave like an unconscionable douche bag in the international press. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Though Kourtney may have the lowest social media awareness of her sisters, she’s still making a killing by staying loyal to a successful brand.
Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.
4. Kendall & 3. Kylie Total Followers: 76.3m and 76.4m, respectively Estimated Net Worth: Kendall, $6 million; Kylie, $5 million Job Titles: Reality stars/Models/Clothing designers/Instagram goddesses/ Homework cheaters Kardashian Status: Younger Sister Klique Kylie and Kendall were both included on Time magazine’s list The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 for their considerable contributions to their own pockets. (Side note: I think we all deserve credit for managing not to puke just now, after the realization that we live in a world in which a major publication has created a list of “the most influential teens.”) The two are essentially tied when it comes to social media followings, and this makes sense given that they have formed their own lucrative clique within the Kardashian/Jenner family. The two Jenner girls have bonded, through a well-documented social media sisterhood and many joint ventures. There’s no doubt this duo is an inspiration, though they mainly seem interested in inspiring tweens to buy their copious merchandise: a PacSun clothing line, apps, games, nail lacquers, jewelry, handbags, shoes, hair extensions, skin care, another clothing line for Topshop, Lip Kits, magazines, and even a young-adult novel they lied about writing together. They’ve managed to successfully mimic their elders’ abilities to spin straw into franchise gold, ensuring the success of Kardashians: The Next Generation. Business Takeaway: Surround yourself with people who lift you up. A joint venture with the right partner could expand your opportunities and increase your brand’s reach.
Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.
2. Khloé Total Followers: 77.3m Estimated Net Worth: $25 million Job Titles: Reality star/Author/Talk-show host/Fragrance designer/ Revenge-body builder Kardashian Status: Second In Kommand Viewed for years as the dark horse in the Kardashian stable, Khloé has truly come into her own during the past few years. Her frank Twitter presence has proven that she's got the most “personality” of any of the Kardashians (not a hard feat, but still), gotten her into feuds with celebs like Amber Rose, and promoted the presence of Camille ( what she dubs her camel toe — sorry, not Kamille or kamel toe). But Khloé’s position as number-two Kardashian is mostly due to her incredible work ethic, as evidenced by her recently released book, her talk show Kocktails with Khloé, and her forthcoming E! reality series . Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian Business Takeaway: Don't be afraid to be yourself, and be outspoken. Khloé truly took off when she started showcasing her personality via social media.
Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
1. Kim Total Followers: 128.6m Estimated Net Worth: $85 million Job Titles: Highest-paid reality star/Author/Icon/Designer/Model/Babysitter to Kanye Kardashian Status: KWEEN What can we possibly say about Kim Kardashian West that has not already been said? Considering she has a social media following that is almost four times the population of Canada, we must consider the astonishing possibility that Kim K is more influential than the nation that gave birth to Céline Dion. She has, according to the 2015 Forbes ranking The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities, “monetized fame better than any other” by earning a total of $52.5 million in 2015. She is the krown jewel of the Kardashian empire, and a post-Warhol icon of self-created fame. Though many have criticized Kim for launching her career with a lurid sex tape featuring her awe-inspiring posterior, you can’t deny that she has brilliantly figured out how to tap that asset. Business Takeaway: Haters are gonna hate, but use that rejection and derision as fuel for your ambition. In the words of Beyoncé, “The best revenge is your paper.”