Uncle Si once told Larry King the Robertsons “work for peanuts.” But, as viewers of Duck Dynasty are well aware, that’s an understatement: The Louisiana family struck gold with their booming business, Duck Commander, and the Robertsons are now worth several million dollars.
But, how much do those duck calls really pay out? Plus, how much have they earned from starring on A&E’s Duck Dynasty?
The lovable Robertson family is always modest about their success, largely because they’ve experienced the other side of the tracks. Phil Robertson, who founded Duck Commander in 1972, grew up without running water or electricity. Even when he started the company, success wasn’t immediate. He told ABC Nightline he only earned $8,000 in the first year of business. With four boys to feed, that money had to be stretched a long way.
^Uncle Si with Jase and Willie in the early days of Duck Commander
“Miss Kay says ‘I’ve been poor with you and I’ve been rich with you. Rich is better,'” Phil said in the 2012 interview.
As Duck Commander earned a bigger footing in the market, the Robertson family earned more money. As a private company, Duck Commander doesn’t have to disclose its annual profits. What we do know is that the company has been worth millions for years and the popularity of Duck Dynasty only furthered its value: Duck Commander sold 60,000 calls in 2011, 300,000 in 2012 (the first year the show aired) and more than 500,000 this year. To accommodate the growing demands, the business increased staff from one dozen employees to 75 within the past year.
“We saw a big difference as the Nielsen ratings went up,” Willie Robertson commented earlier this year.
In addition to their business, the Robertson family is making a good chunk of change from A&E. Various reports claimed the entrepreneurial family was in a standoff with the network earlier this year as the Robertsons wanted their salaries to be raised to $200,000 per episode of Duck Dynasty. Neither the Robertsons nor the network commented on the validity of those reports, but they have gone ahead with the fourth season, which indicates something was negotiated.
The family’s popularity has also allowed them to explore their own hobbies. Miss Kay is coming out with a cookbook this fall. Willie and Korie wrote a New York Times best-selling book about their family and faith. Phil wrote a book, titled Happy, Happy, Happy, about his life and business. The family is even working on a Christmas album, Duck the Halls.
In addition to their creative pursuits, the family earns shares from the sales of Duck Dynasty merchandise. (Hallmark cards don’t sell for cheap!) The Robertsons are also set to cash in on the first-annual Duck Commander Cruise, which charges guests a minimum of $749 to sail with the family in July 2014.
With all of those things considered, the Celebrity Net Worth estimation of $83.1 million for the family is entirely reasonable — if not understated.
Although the Robertsons have certainly come a long way from their humble beginnings, they continue to remember their roots. They are truly popular in their Louisiana community, where they are known as generous philanthropists. As viewers of Duck Dynasty also know, they all care for each other and are most happy when they get to bond as a family. For those reasons, Willie told the Christian Broadcast Network they don’t get too hung up on business success and net worth.
“But if the fame and fortune that we’ve enjoyed through Duck Commander were all gone tomorrow, I would still stay the same thing: God is good.”
The fourth season of Duck Dynasty premieres on A&E on August 14 at 10/9 p.m. CST.