Reality television is tricky. The cameras, the attention, and the overnight celebrity status have been known to send some of its stars into a tailspin. However, in some instances, reality TV can be the catalyst for long-term success, and Bethenny Frankel is the perfect example. Over the years, audiences have watched her go from unknown New Yorker to millionaire mogul. Her upcoming return to television has us wondering about how much money she’s clearing from her Skinnygirl empire. Here’s the scoop on Bethenny Frankel’s net worth and how over a decade of reality television has helped her rake in millions.
Bethenny Frankel Has A New Show: ‘The Big Shot With Bethenny’
Bethenny Frankel’s reality television career is coming full circle. She made her television debut as a contestant on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart back in 2005. She came in second place. Now, she’s partnering with Mark Burnett, the producer behind The Apprentice, for her own reality show with a similar format. It’s called The Big Shot With Bethenny.
Frankel’s new reality show premieres on April 29th on HBO Max. And if you think that the contestants are just competing for a run-of-the-mill prize package, think again. In an Instagram post announcing the show, Frankel explained, “I want to pay it forward and give someone the opportunity to carve their own path to success by truly taking them under my wing.”
Contestants will be working in real-life business situations, taking on challenges that focus on branding, marketing, and sales. The winner gets the opportunity to join her executive team as the second-in-command for her multimillion-dollar business empire. With her signature quick wit and no-nonsense attitude, the contestants are surely in for a wild ride.
She Grew Her Skinnygirl Brand ON ‘RHONY’
What’s unique about Frankel’s success is that she didn’t grow her business empire overnight. Audiences watched it happen on Bravo. Although her first big television appearance was on The Apprentice, her biggest break came in 2008 when she joined The Real Housewives of New York City. At the time, she was a natural food chef trying to make her BethennyBakes company take off. During the show’s first season, she made $7,250.
But reality TV magic happened during that first season. She recognized the branding potential in her signature cocktail: silver tequila, limes, and a splash of Cointreau.
“I always loved margaritas. Women love margaritas. I created a recipe that I would tell to bartenders, and I said the words ‘skinny girl’s margarita’ on The Real Housewives,” she explained in an interview with Inc. “I could just feel the light bulb go off when I said it. And then it was one of the most asked questions and emailed questions to Bravo. I decided to monetize that.”
And monetize she did. Once Frankel officially turned her go-to cocktail into a viable product, she used RHONY as a vehicle for marketing and product placement. In any given scene, Skinnygirl Cocktails were on the menu and positioned in the background. She once even plastered the Skinnygirl logo on the side of her Volkswagen Bug.
The Skinnygirl brand grew in popularity alongside The Real Housewives franchise. And although she was using the show as a commercial opportunity for her company, she didn’t have to sacrifice any profits. The contract she was initially presented with stated that Bravo would receive a percentage of any business she promoted on the show. However, Frankel refused to sign – a business move that positioned her to seriously cash in a few years later.
She Sold Her Skinnygirl Cocktail Line For $100 Million
By 2011, Frankel left The Real Housewives of New York City to star in her own spinoff series: Bethenny Ever After. She also cashed in on an extremely lucrative deal for her brand.
She sold Skinnygirl Cocktails to Beam Global. Now known as Beam Suntory, the company is responsible for some of the biggest liquor brands in the world, like Jim Beam, Sauza, and Courvoisier. The one-of-a-kind deal earned Frankel a reported $100 million payday with the potential to make more based on the performance of SkinnyGirl Cocktails. The low-calorie drinks were ultimately a hit, and some insiders believe that her actual take home from the deal came closer to $120 million.
The best part of the sale is that although she no longer controlled Skinnygirl Cocktails, she still maintained ownership over the Skinnygirl brand at large. With reality television fame and a nine-figure payday, Frankel had the clout to expand the footprint of Skinnygirl. Since then, the brand has grown to apparel, popcorn, salad dressing, lunch meat, supplements, eyewear, cookware, and more.
Bethenny Frankel’s Net Worth Is $70 Million
As a television personality, author, liquor mogul, and more, Frankel has an estimated net worth of $70 million. While most of this comes from her Skinnygirl empire, she has become involved with various other endeavors that help her increase her earnings.
She returned to The Real Housewives for a few seasons and reportedly earned $1 million per season. Compare that to the $7,250 paycheck she made in the first season! Frankel also has a television deal with Mark Burnett, an impressive real estate portfolio (a skill that she flexed on another reality series called Bethenny and Fredrik), and she’s begun investing in other companies outside of her Skinnygirl empire. For example, she told Fortune that she’s an investor in Cameo.
“I love that it’s the first time I ever really invested in something in this way that’s separate than my business,” she explained. “A lot of the time, I work with a partner, but they put up the money, and I put up my marketing and sweat equity, but in this case, I also invested money. So it’s great—and it’s worth like 10 times what it was at the beginning.”
But even though Frankel has grown a massive net worth through a reality television career, she’s not a heartless millionaire. Over the last few years, she’s partnered with Global Empowerment Mission to launch her BStrong initiative. The group provides emergency response to people in need worldwide: from the hurricane victims in Puerto Rico to the Texans dealing with a blackout last winter.
While many reality stars launch product lines, no one else has achieved the level of success that Frankel has. The only other exception is the Kardashian/Jenner family, who Forbes listed as the top-earning reality stars in 2016, along with Frankel. Perhaps the next big reality TV mogul will make their debut on The Big Shot With Bethenny.