What’s in a name? For Kylie Jenner, maybe a billion dollars.
Forbes has declared the 21-year-old reality star and makeup maven the youngest self-made billionaire ever, yanking that title from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who attained that rarefied status when he was 23.
But many on Twitter were not having it, arguing that far from pulling herself by her bootstraps, Jenner, the baby sister of the Kardashian-Jenner brood, got a giant boost from her wealthy, famous family.
“I’m sure Kylie Jenner works hard, but she is not ‘self made,’ and we should all stop comparing our successes in our fields to the successes of people who come from wealthy, connected families cos the playing field is at 90 degrees,” went one tweet.
Forbes has declared that Kylie Jenner, the baby of the Kardashian-Jenner family, -is at 21, the youngest self-made billionaire ever. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY NETWORK)
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Said another: “Kylie Jenner is not a ‘self made billionaire’ her family was already worth millions and incredibly famous. All she did was leverage her fame, fortune and family name.”
Jenner has caused such conniptions in the past, leading Forbes to explain itself last year when it named her to its list of the wealthiest self-made women in the U.S.
“To be clear, Forbes defines self-made as someone who built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it,” Forbes wrote.
But noting that “the term is very broad, and does not adequately reflect how far some people have come,” the magazine said it had previously devised a scale ranking how truly self-made a business person was. While media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who was born poor and had to overcome many obstacles scored a 10, Jenner, who has benefited from her family’s wealth and celebrity, scored a 7.
Kylie Jenner is not a “self made billionaire” her family was already worth millions and incredibly famous. All she did was leverage her fame, fortune, and family name. t.co/jTxoH0LqwE
— Robbedy (@robbedy) March 5, 2019
The magazine granted Jenner the self-made billionaire title based on her full ownership of Kylie Cosmetics, a company Forbes values at $900 million or more, and the money she’s previously made from the business known for its colorful lip kits.
I'm sure Kylie Jenner works hard but she is not "self-made" and we should all stop comparing our successes in our fields to the successes of people who come from wealthy, connected families cos the playing field is at 90 degrees
— Lex Croucher (@lexcanroar) March 5, 2019
It is definitely questionable whether someone like Jenner fits the traditional mold of someone who is self-made.
“Self-made traditionally meant starting out with very little and generating wealth and success through your own effort and initiative,” says Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consultancy GlobalData. “The definition is now more complex than it used to be. However, I think for most people the meaning is still quite true to the original. It’s why they question whether someone who has started life with significant advantages can be described as being truly self-made.”
Still, it’s a status that many want to claim. Even President Donald Trump, who inherited millions from his father, fosters an image that he largely built his real estate business on his own.
“I think being self-made is still part of the American dream,” Saunders says. “There are a lot of people who use the term although they are arguably less entitled to say they are truly self-made. It sounds goods and provides some justification for their wealth, which is likely why they use it.
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Jenner, who has an immense social media following, has her defenders.
“What Kylie Jenner did is extremely impressive,” said one admirer on Twitter.
And Saunders agrees that while Jenner “had a significant head-start in life,” it’s also true “that much of Kylie’s success has been through initiatives she has created and grown.”
For her part, Jenner appears to be humbled by her new status.
“I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future,” Jenner told Forbes. “But (the recognition) feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”