Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Dolly Parton's Net Worth Is So Large Nobody Can Agree on a Number

Edduin Carvajal
Jan 19, 2022
06:00 P.M.
Share this pen
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

Dolly Parton's career has been so successful that she currently has several income streams and so much money that nobody can agree on her worth.

Advertisement

Born in January 1946 in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, Dolly Parton didn't always have millions in the bank. Her parents had difficulty raising their 12 children (Parton included) in Appalachia, but music was an integral part of their lives.

Parton's mom was a singer, and she taught church music and Elizabethan ballads to her kids. Years later, Parton used what her mom taught her to become one of the highest-paid women in music.  

Dolly Parton on November 20, 2019 in "The Today Show" | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

MAKING MONEY OUT OF HER SONGS

While Parton's voice has been crucial in her career, her songwriting skills have also been essential. Like "Coat of Many Colors," some of her songs were inspired by her life experiences in Appalachia. 

She has composed over 3,000 songs and makes money with each one. Every time a radio station plays one of the tracks Parton wrote, she pockets about $0.08.

Dolly Parton on June 7, 2009 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

The musician earns approximately $2 per album sold and makes between $6 million and $8 million in royalty payments each year. One of the songs that filled her pockets the most was "I Will Always Love You.

In the 1990s alone, Whitney Houston's rendition of the ballad made Parton $10 million richer. Houston was not the first person who approached Parton to cover that song. The first was Elvis Presley.

Dolly Parton on January 9, 2012 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

Not many people would have turned down the King of Rock and Roll's offer, but Parton did it. Presley's manager wanted her to sign over half of the song's publishing rights, but she refused.

Years later, Parton confessed that Houston's version of her track made her so rich that she could even buy Graceland (Presley's property in Memphis). However, she invested some of that money in a Black community in Nashville.

Her businesspeople initially thought that opening the amusement park was a mistake.

Dolly Parton on June 8, 2014 in Liverpool, United Kingdom | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

Parton's life would have been different if it wasn't for one particular decision made in the 1960s. Before making it big in the music industry, Parton and her uncle worked together writing songs.

Combine Music hired her, but when their contract expired in 1966, Parton and her uncle created their own publishing company. Since then, she has owned her publishing rights and still maintains ownership of most of her songs. According to Forbes, her catalog is worth about $150 million.

Dolly Parton on May 13, 2014 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

OTHER INCOME STREAMS

If having a successful music career for decades wasn't hard enough, Parton has also made millions as an actress. She had a starring role in 1980 "9 to 5," a film that earned the equivalent of today's $330 million.

Nine years later, she worked next to Julia Roberts in "Steel Magnolias," which took $100 million at the box office. In 2020, she produced and starred in "Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square," a musical that won a Primetime Emmy Award.

Advertisement

Parton is also a savvy businesswoman, and Dollywood proves it. Her businesspeople initially thought opening the amusement park was a mistake, but she had faith in it. 

Luckily, it is "the biggest and best investment" she has made. Over three million people visit Dollywood per year, and she earns close to $118 million annually. With her resorts and themed dinner shows, Parton also created jobs for over 4,000 people.

Parton spent $300 million in her park expansions between 2013 and 2019, but she wants to keep investing in it and enlarge it even more. In the coming years, she plans to add a new resort called HeartSong.

Advertisement

Satellite image of Dolly Parton's Brentwood, Tennessee home | Photo: Google Maps

PARTON'S HOME IN BRENTWOOD, TENNESSEE

Every queen needs a palace, and Parton's is in Brentwood, Tennessee. She bought it for $400,000 in 1999 and now shares it with her husband, Carl Dean. 

Advertisement

The stunning property features a tennis court, a swimming pool, a chapel, and a farm. The kitchen has two dishwashers, a double oven, a double fridge, white wooden cupboards, and a central island with white marble worktops.

Parton's mansion has a music room equipped with a black piano, and most of her awards and diplomas are stored in another room. She also has a large picture honoring her achievement of selling 100 million records worldwide.

Advertisement

Parton is 76 years old now, but she has no plans of slowing down.

Advertisement

With so many songs, properties, shows (she is still making thousands of dollars touring), and businesses (she launched her first perfume, Scent from Above, in 2021), it is hard to tell precisely how much Parton is worth.

Forbes pointed out in 2021 that she had an estimated $350 million fortune, but the South China Morning Post claimed she was worth $650 million.

Advertisement

GIVING BACK IS PARAMOUNT

Parton wouldn't be the successful artist and businesswoman she is today without her fans, and she knows it. She has made her philanthropic work a crucial aspect of her life to pay them back. 

Through her Dollywood Foundation, Parton has supported the Imagination Library, a book gifting program that sends free books to children from birth to age five in different communities in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.

Advertisement

Since its creation, Imagination Library has given away over 172 million books. Her foundation has also provided funds for the Mountain Tough Recovery Team, which focuses on helping Sevier County residents recover following the 2016 wildfires.

She also held a telethon to raise money for the families affected by the fire, raising $9 million. In April 2020, Parton donated $1 million to Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Team to fund coronavirus vaccine trials and investigate antibody therapies.

Advertisement

Parton is 76 years old now, but she has no plans of slowing down. In January 2022, she announced on Instagram the release of her 48th album, "Run, Rose, Run."

The singer, also publishing her first novel, released the album's lead single, "Big Dreams and Faded Jeans." The song's official lyric video had over 100,000 plays on YouTube in less than four days. What a successful career!

Advertisement