With a sarcastic personality and sassy wit, Judge Judy Sheindlin has ruled daytime television for nearly two decades. Her Emmy Award winning show, Judge Judy, continues to be the highest-rated regular daytime series drawing an estimated 10 million viewers per day. That's more than twice the audience of the next highest rated daytime show, Dr. Phil.
It's probably no surprise that given her large audience and broad appeal Judge Judy commands a very lucrative salary. She is in fact the highest paid TV personality earning an estimated $47 million per year. She also doesn't have to work all that often to earn that salary as she only tapes her show 52 days out of the year, meaning she earns nearly $1 million every day she works. Thanks to that large salary, and another business venture, Judge Judy is worth an estimated quarter billion dollars, according to Forbes.
The rise of Judge Judy and her net worth
Judge Judy Sheindlin started off in law in 1965 after passing the New York bar exam and becoming a prosecutor in the family court system. She was appointed as a judge in 1982, first in criminal court, and then four years later as Manhattan's supervising family court judge. Over the next decade she earned a reputation as being a no-nonsense judge that was known as tough, but fair with a quick wit and even quicker decision making ability.
Her reputation first started to gain national notoriety in 1993 when she was featured in a LA Times article, which then led to a 60 Minutes special on her family court that same year. A few years later she published a book "Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining" and in 1996 retired as a family court judge after hearing over 20,000 cases. She was soon approached about starring in a TV courtroom series that featured real cases and real rulings. That show, Judge Judy, debuted in 1996 and is now in its 19th season.
Her show not only became the No. 1 rated court show, but it has been one of the top rated TV series for years. In fact, in 2009 Judge Judy was the first show in almost a decade to unseat The Oprah Winfrey Show with the most daytime viewers. Since that time the show has become the highest rated in all of daytime television, which is why Judge Judy is also the highest paid TV personality. She recently signed a new five-year contract with CBS (NYSE:CBS), which will keep her on the air until 2020.
More than just a TV star
Another driver of Judge Judy's net worth is her own production company, Queen Bee. It's a production company that has already created a new hit show, Hot Bench, which features a panel of three judges who decide on cases brought to their TV courtroom. It's one of the highest-rated new shows on daytime television, with an average of 2.3 million viewers. More shows from her production company could soon follow as her newest deal guarantees that CBS will be given the first look at any new projects she funds through her production company.
When the feisty judge is not taping new Judge Judy shows, or creating new shows, she's helping to prod other women to live up to their true potential. She is the creator, director, and spokesperson for an alliance called "Her Honor Mentoring Program." Its mission is to provide a platform for young women to follow in her footsteps to ultimately reach their full potential. It not only strengthens women's practical skills, but it also reinforces the importance of college education while also providing funds for college scholarships for women.
Most of Judge Judy's vast net worth is the result of her top-tier salary. However, she's bolstered that number in recent years by turning her expertise at her day job into a company of her own with a goal of creating new hit shows. It's a company that could really boost her net worth in the years ahead as she'll capture even more of the value she's creating than she does as a wage earner for CBS. It's a reminder to us all that owning a business, whether one we've started on the side, or ones we're investing in via the stock market, can create an even larger personal net worth than we'd have from our day job alone.
Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.