A real estate mogul, an aspiring fashion icon, a reality TV staple… For the self-styled “patriarch of perfection,” multimillionaire Todd Chrisley has had a career path wrought with false starts and monumental resets. From a $45 million bankruptcy to the plotting of a potential reality empire and innumerable contradictory claims pertaining to his net worth and financial status, the 49-year-old’s road to celebrity success and wealth has been a tumultuous one at best. And millions of viewers can’t look away.
The Self-Made Multimillionaire
Before amassing a following on his long-running USA series “Chrisley Knows Best,” Georgia native Todd Chrisley claims to have made 95% of his own millions in real estate. Yet while the reality host loves talking about cold, hard cash on his show, he has never been forthcoming about which specific ventures led to his wealth.
It has been reported that his now-defunct Chrisley Asset Management (CAM) managed and liquidated repossessed real estate properties for financial institutions; in short, CAM snatched up distressed or foreclosed homes and sold them for a profit until the well dried up in 2008 during the housing market collapse. Since then, what Chrisley has consistently done in the real estate market to turn a profit remains ambiguous.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
In the 2014 inaugural eight-episode season of “Chrisley Knows Best,” the patriarch quickly established himself as someone accustomed to the finer things in life. From boasting about spending an annual $300,000 on clothes to chucking his son’s laptop in the swimming pool just to teach him a lesson, Chrisley made clear that his value of a dollar notably deviated from the average Joe’s. In the series, he and wife Julie Chrisley flaunted designer clothes and fancy cars while living in a lavish 30,000-square-foot Atlanta home with their children Lindsie, Chase, Savannah and Grayson. As Chrisley told audiences at the time, it was the same gated development that housed the likes of Usher and Chipper Jones.
It was that lifestyle, coupled with Chrisley’s “father knows best,” helicopter-parenting approach, that endeared the show to producing partners Maverick TV and All3Media America, and what helped the series’ sizzle reel attract offers from an impressive nine networks when it was first shopped in 2012.
Fast forward to the present day, and “Chrisley Knows Best” has become a benchmark for USA – a network that established itself with scripted dramas like “Suits” and “Mr. Robot.” After solid ratings, more than 100 episodes and international sales to Australia, Canada, Asia and the U.K., the series has been renewed for a seventh season. Meanwhile, a spinoff, “Growing Up Chrisley,” featuring Chrisley kids Chase and Savannah road-tripping from Nashville to Los Angeles, has been greenlit for a 16-episode season, beginning in 2019.
“We’ve had various showrunners that have wanted to put their twist on things, and we’ve always stood our ground. What’s going on in our life is what you’re seeing,” Chrisley told Variety of the show’s ongoing success. “We’re not trying to clean it up for you and I think that’s why our show has resonated with so many millions of viewers, is because we stay true to who we are and to exactly the situations that are coming at us that life throws your way.”
As “Chrisley Knows Best” was starting to cash in with audiences, the patriarch was also in the middle of two bankruptcy cases: Chrisley filed for personal bankruptcy in 2012 and CAM filed for corporate bankruptcy in 2013. In the filing, Chrisley claimed to have a hundred bucks in cash, $4.2 million in total assets and nearly $49 million of debt.
“He guaranteed a real estate development loan and it failed,” his attorney, Robert Furr, told People at the time. “He was on the hook for $30 million. If he hadn’t had that happen, he would have been fine financially.”
On camera Chrisley may have been boasting about his massive clothing budget, but on paper he claimed his clothes were worth a mere $650 – a discrepancy that set off red flags with court-appointed trustee Jason Pettie. Pettie dove deeper into the case and requested emails, receipts and other documents to investigate whether Chrisley was hiding assets. The proceedings revealed that Julie had received more than $700,000 in transfers from CAM. (A former beauty-pageant winner, Julie has a personal net worth of roughly $3 million, money she has reportedly used to keep the family funded.)
The case was eventually settled in 2015, but it has been reported that Chrisley has yet to make all the final agreed-upon payments. Meanwhile, Chrisley moved his family from Georgia into a “more modest” $1.6 million home in Nashville, where there are no state income taxes.
Aspiring Kardashians of the South
In terms of reality-show royalty, the Kardashians reign supreme as a result of their series, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and its various spinoffs on E!. Kim Kardashian West, who first shot to fame following a sex tape, now has a reported net worth of approximately $350 million. Her siblings, mother Kris Jenner and former stepfather Caitlyn Jenner each reportedly claim a net worth upwards of $10 million.
Part of that family’s success has to do with the clan’s ongoing marketing and expansion projects, something Chrisley and his crew have attempted to emulate, albeit on a less grand scale and with varying degrees of success.
While audiences have undoubtedly responded to Chrisley and his family on “Chrisley Knows Best” (the fifth season premiere clocked in as the show’s highest rated with 2.9 million live+3 viewers, and demonstrated growth across all key demos), USA’s attempts to capitalize further on the family have fallen short. In the past year the team experimented with a “Chrisley Knows Best” after-show in the wake of successful series like AMC’s “The Talking Dead,” and also attempted to further catapult the patriarch into stardom as a late night host. In the end neither project panned out and network execs are sticking to the main series and the upcoming spinoff for the foreseeable future.
Spinoffs aren’t the only projects that have been in the family’s sights. In the show’s first season, Chrisley’s dream of opening his own department store was a heavily featured storyline, but it eventually fizzled out following the bankruptcy proceedings, and it hasn’t been mentioned since. Meanwhile, the official Facebook page of The Juice Bar, which the family reportedly owned in the subsequent second season, now cites John and Vui Hunt as the official owners.
For all the stumbles, Chrisley and his clan have also celebrated successes. In 2015 the family show became the first basic cable offering to be incorporated into a branded channel on Dubsmash, and in 2016 Chrisley released the country single “Infinite Love” with Sara Evans, which peaked at #39 on the Billboard charts. In 2017 Savannah Chrisley’s fashion line in conjunction with HSN officially launched. Julie, an avid cook and former food blogger, plans to launch her first restaurant with Todd in Nashville sometime next year.
With so many projects in the works and no public record of Chrisley’s income, it’s impossible to pinpoint the man’s exact net worth in 2018. With the TV series and the family’s various start-ups it’s obvious he hasn’t scaled back much in terms of his overall lifestyle though, which should place him well above the -$46 million reported in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Most Influential Quotes
‘If I don’t like it, that’s all that matters.’
Chrisley’s unique brand of honesty and his iron-handed parenting style are what have continued to endear him to audiences over the years. Since his on-camera introduction, he has claimed to run his large clan the way he runs his business, which is basically less in tune with the Millennial approach of opinion-soliciting and perhaps better described as “my way or the highway.”
‘Perfect is something you should strive to be.’
The self-proclaimed “patriarch of perfection” demands a lot from his friends, family and employees, which makes for a larger-than-life personality when selling a TV show. In reality, though, that motto hasn’t always translated to his actual life, given his estranged relationship with his oldest son, Kyle, and his first wife, Teresa Terry.
‘Sit back and stay stuck on stupid and see if you won’t get fired.’
Just as Chrisley demands that his children grow and expand, he, too, has ventured down various career paths in what could be construed as a (somewhat random) attempt to grow his brand. Given his continued success – at least on the small screen – it seems to be working. For now.