Controversy ensues after Kylie Jenner becomes youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire

April 25, 2019 — by Shreya Katkere

On March 5, Forbes announced that Kylie Jenner, now 21, had become the youngest “self-made” billionaire, a title previously held by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (He became a self-made billionaire at age 23.)

Jenner earned most of her  money through the reality television show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” her cosmetics company Kylie Cosmetics and many endorsements with companies such as Fashion Nova and Sugar Bear Hair Vitamins.

Forbes magazine’s description of Jenner created controversy because many rightly critics took exception with the idea that her wealth is self-made.

For her part, Jenner has defended the use of the term “self-made” multiple times, claiming that even though she comes from privilege, her parents cut her off financially at age 15. She also pointed out that she started Kylie Cosmetics, currently valued at at least $900 million, without help of her sisters, or her “momager,” Kris Jenner.

To earn the title of “self-made” billionaire, a person has to earn their fortune as a result of their own hard work and innovation. Even though Jenner may not have received any monetary help for Kylie Cosmetics, a large reason the company became so successful is her family’s fame.

Contrast that with true self-made billionaires, such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who were born in poor families but worked their way to the top. Winfrey is truly “self-made” because she built her own successful career in media after spending many years studying journalism in college and working at a relatively small radio station before landing her own nationally syndicated show and later building an entertainment empire.

No doubt Jenner is hardworking and deserving of praise, but “family-made” billionaire is a more accurate term in her case.

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