How does the Sister Wives’ Brown family make money?

TLC's Sister Wives and patriarch Kody Brown on Ellen

UPDATE! CLICK HERE to see The Brown Families businesses and projects in 2012!

Aside from the fact that they’re now getting money from TLC for their popular reality show that’s now into the second season and their fame no doubt has also given them other opportunities to make money via endorsements and such, one of the biggest questions about The Brown Family from Sister Wives is how they were able to feed and house a family of 21 people up until this point? Of course, rumors flew about abusing the welfare system, but there seems to be no real evidence of that.

Before Kody married his fourth wife Robyn Sullivan, he and Jenelle were bringing on the bacon, Christine was taking care of the kids, and Meri worked a low-wage job that allowed her to take care of herself and her one daughter (but she didn’t have to contribute to big things like mortgage payments.) Then Kody married Robyn, who had three kids. They moved to Lehi, and into an apartment that the family had to pay rent for, but she didn’t bring an income with her (no wtwoord on if her ex-husband is paying child support.)

As Kody describes their situation in the show, they’ve got a socialist set-up of sorts. They each contribute, and benefit from the set-up in varying ways, but in the end, it all seems to balance out. Or, at least it did before Robyn came into the mix after 16 years of their four-adult dynamic. The family had to shift to find a place for Robyn, just as all of their lives and finances were going through major changes because of the show. Soon money probably won’t be as big of an issue, and one could argue that the value Robyn brought to the table was giving the family a compelling story-line for their debut to the world. In this arena, Robyn’s youth and attractiveness doesn’t hurt either.

Kody’s job:

Kody’s job is still rather vague, and he’s probably transitioning more now toward his new company to handle his new entertainment career: Kody Brown Family Entertainment LLC, but the general consensus on Kody’s pre-fame career was internet advertising sales. Its hard to get a read on exactly how lucrative that work has been from him, but if the Browns have been getting by this far getting everyone fed, clothed, and housed in their giant compound, then he might be bringing in some serious bread.

Janelle’s job:

Janelle is the other major financial player in the Brown household. According to Hollywood Life, Janelle runs a company called E Z Pantry that’s listed under Janelle Brown & People Pantry Incorporated. E Z Pantry is in business to “provide, market, design, sell or trade in the food storage industry.” Again, it’s very possible (especially since Janelle’s is such a smart cookie) that this business is performing very well and making bank. It sounds like a strictly business-to-business endeavor, so she could be be performing very well and still stay low-key.

Christine’s job:

Christine is a full-time stay-at-home-mom and she loves it. She takes care of Janelle’s kids as well as her own (first wife Meri’s only daughter is already a teenager and almost ready to leave the nest,) stocks the pantry up with bulk buying and couponing. Christine is okay with the fact that she doesn’t bring in any income because she feels that she provides an extremely valuable service with childcare, and also picks up some of the slack through creative shopping that stretches the money the family does have farther.

She and Jenelle seem to have traditional domestic roles, with Jenelle actually enjoying something that most mothers in general never get to experience: she works all day and gets to come home to a clean house with the kids all fed, washed, and taken care of so she can just enjoy spending time with them, instead of worrying about more work and tasks to do.

Meri’s job:

Meri had a mysterious job that didn’t provide much income before she lost it after the family became famous last year. When she had the job, she used the money to pay for some of the small bills, and care for herself and her daughter. She doesn’t seem to be as intertwined in the family financial dynamic, and she doesn’t really need to be since there are only two people in her branch of the unit.

Robyn’s job: When Robyn first came into the family, Janelle was a little annoyed at getting a whole new four-person family to take care of. Robyn looked for work, but she contributed the most by helping out with childcare. This was a boon because Christine needed some time to recuperate after the birth of her newest daughter Truely.

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  • Megan

    I just wanted to say that Robyn has 3 kids. Two girls and a boy.
    I imagine she does get child support. Though it’s usually just enough to cover basic needs of the children.

    • http://sisterwives dbi

      Is Meri looking for another job? Was wondering if Robyn does get childsupport does she has to put it in the “Brown Pot” to help with finances.I saw on one episode where Robyn tells her kids to call Kody daddy. Wonder how that went over with her ex.

  • jane

    Did you get tired of this one? Robyn is preggo.

    • admin

      It was not known that she was pregnant at the time this was written.

  • June

    Meri had a job working with youth as a counslor its somthing she really wanted to do but now with her faith they find her a bad influence on the kids. somthing like that.

  • Mary

    I don’t understand their whole “legal” situation. If they didn’t LEGALLY all get married how is the law involved and how can the law dictate that 4 adults can NOT live under the same roof with their children.

    I thought by them forcing their 17 year old daughter to relocate because he, Cody was given dominance over her until she’s 18 is just wrong!!! She could have stayed with relatives-lord knows they have enough of those.

    I think you have this fairly good looking guy who’s duped four grown women into believing he’s hot stuff. I guess I see what the women get. They’re never lonely for companionship. They’ve got a million kids and other women to gab with but what about wanting their OWN man!! What is wrong with this is the women have to settle for having one man and the man can do whatever he wants!!

    • Jacquie

      Anyone who has met Janelle would not call her “duped”. She is very intelligent and hardworking. They are really nice people.

  • Leslie

    ALSO… understand that as “legally” single parents, these ladies are eligible for public assistance.. FOOD STAMPS and medicaid.. thus Mr. Dad to all these children and husband to all these women, DOES not support them without OUR help!!

    • Tonya

      Nobody in that family is getting food stamps, and in order to get them you have to claim all income from everyone who lives with you and explain where your money comes from. Stating that they get food stamps is not only untrue, it’s just downright instigating.

      • Jennings

        Actually it’s documented that Christine did indeed receive food stamps as late as 2010. Also Kody technically doesn’t live with any of the wives anymore. Staying 1-2 days a month isn’t cohabiting.

        • looker

          Legally he lives with Meri. If you think for one minute child support wouldnt be on him after shelling out welfare think again. not defending them at all just saying and that website is never working you would think after 2 years you could at least browse. they claim it’s due to so many people crashing the site but I’ve looked even when they’re not in season and it never works. Robin get to work.

  • Alaina F

    Just because someone qualifies for welfare doesn’t mean they use it. There was no evidence that any of these women used any form of government assistance. Look at the car Kodrives. Its a good indicator they make good money. A convertible Lexus sports car doesn’t come cheap! If they really needed money they could figure out a way for one of the unemployed wives to pitch in but obviously it isn’t that bad which is wonderful.

  • jackie

    I like the Browns. I think they’re nice people. To each his own. They’re happy and they make it work. And when you listen to those women talk, they’re very intelligent. And they don’t let Kody get away with anything. Nice family.

  • Nate Beckwith

    I noticed Cody does not pay much attention to the children. he has the wives do it al. The day at the Christmas tree farm and 2 boys fist fighting he walked right by did not say a word. when asked he replied his mother will handle it.
    He gets the nice convertible while the rest drive older cars. Jenelle works her ass off 2 feed Robin and her kids.

    Jenelle i’d make you my queen and world dont settle for less

    • Charlotte DiLondon

      Cody is a good father. He walked right by the boys, because he knows the boy’s know their boundaries, and he knew they would NOT hurt each other.

      • Carol Foster

        That’s not a good father .

  • oldirishman

    I raised 3 daughters, and earned a good living, but there is no way that, unless TLC pays VERY WELL, 22 people can live on what they indicate they collectively earn! These women deserve one husband for each. No less! This debauchery masquerading as religion! “Cleaving only to her, forsaking all others, till death do you part” is the only way marriage should be entered into!

  • Eat More Bear

    Kody is a selfish, lazy father-bastard. Since when do men not take care of their kids in addition to what the mothers do? Produce, produce, produce. If he actually took an active role in his children’s lives he wouldn’t get so carried away with the notion of spreading his seed across the entire planet.

  • chris

    Kody is a selfish and Robin is such a BIG mouth! I think Robin needs to get out and get a real job after all only one of her kids is Kody’s. Quit making Janelle work so hard and pay for everything.She never seems to get treated right! Always sitting on the end of the couch with hardly nothing to say! Shame on you Kody treat them equal!

    • looker

      exactly two years on the website never ever works. Not even in the offseason when they’re not on TV they claim it crashes all the time because of interest but it never works.Robin quit whining about Mary and get to work.

  • Charlotte DiLondon

    I like the Brown family. Their live style is different than mine, but I respect them still. Cody and his wives have raised very good kids, and they are smart as well. Cody is soft spoken, manages to keep peace among all his wives. Manages to keep them happy where it is necessary, and, if I wanted to be in a plural family, he would be my ideal husband.