President Trump turned a $60.7 million loan from his father in 1975 into his $3.1 billion net worth today. That's more than a 5,000 percent return on investment in under half a century.
Kylie Jenner achieved a 19,900 percent return on investment in under four years. She's 21 years old, the youngest self-made billionaire in history.
As with all things Kardashian, the Forbes designation that the makeup mogul and reality television star is "self-made" has polarized the public. Piers Morgan called Jenner a "SELFIE-made billionaire profiting off the back of her big sister's sex tape." The official Dictionary.com Twitter account argued that the term "self-made" did more than a little heavy lifting. And of course, Dan Riffle, the policy director of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., with the Twitter name "Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure," smeared the moniker as both false and a sign that "the problem" — whatever that means — "is getting even worse."
Forbes admits that "self-made" denotes a gradient. They scale Oprah at a 10 for being entirely self-made, and Laurene Powell Jobs, who married into extreme wealth, at a one. A seven, Jenner's ranking, means she is "self-made" but "got a head start from wealthy parents and moneyed background."
When "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" hit the airwaves, the upper-class Calabasas family was known for their deceased patriarch, Robert, one of O.J. Simpson's former defense attorneys and best friends; Los Angeles socialite Kris; her second husband Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian who has since identified as "Caitlyn"; and second daughter Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton's former assistant who shot to notoriety with a leaked sex tape.
They weren't even close to the most famous family in Los Angeles, let alone on reality TV. The Osbournes, Paris Hilton, Hugh Hefner's "girlfriends," Jon and Kate Gosselin, and Tori and Dean Spelling already had their own wildly successful shows at this point. But the Kardashians turned fairly banal family antics, somewhat unconventional beauty, and an eye for drama into an empire.
Unlike the wafer-thin Kendall Jenner, who used her platform to catapult a modeling career, and the older three sisters, who were all old enough to make their personal lives public drama, the young and relatively plain Kylie Jenner could have faded into the background. Instead she transformed her physical image and turned it into a billion-dollar brand.
Of the hundreds of beautiful women ogled by millions of Americans every week on "The Bachelor," "Real Housewives," and every single family reality show pimped by E!, why did Jenner emerge from the pack to become the sixth most followed person on Instagram, a 21-year-old who has celebrated her early motherhood as central to her image in a culture that repeatedly shames young career women for wanting to have children?
Because she understood what a generation of young women were missing. She opened up about her physical insecurities to create a makeup empire with little overhead and free marketing on social media. And she traded her trashy ex-boyfriend Tyga for domestic simplicity with her rumored fiance, Travis Scott, and a baby. Her entire life is an aspirational brand, one she's promoted for profit.
No one's doubting that Kylie Jenner's previous wealth and platform didn't give her a head start, but she certainly had her finger on the pulse of a cultural void and turned $5 million made from her TV show and B-list brand endorsements in 2015 into a $1 billion empire. Can you name another celebrity who's done that?
To quote sister Kim Kardashian, not bad for a girl with no talent.