Online net worth calculators claim Taylor Swift’s cat, Olivia Benson, has a higher net worth than Swift’s partner, the NFL’s Travis Kelce. Are these calculators at all accurate?
Taylor Swift is worth an estimated $1bn dollars (£792m) and her cats aren’t doing too poorly, either: According to Cats.com, Swift’s cat, named Olivia Benson, after Mariska Hargitay’s Law and Order: SVU character, is worth an estimated $97m (£77m). That’s more than Swift’s much-discussed beau Travis Kelce’s estimated net worth of $40m (£32m).
Benson has earned her keep, appearing in TV commercials and in Swift’s music videos for Blank Space and Me!. As for Swift’s two other felines, Meredith Grey and Benjamin Button? There are no publicly-available numbers for their earnings, so it’s possible Benson’s and Swift’s accumulatd wealth are what’s keeping them well-fed.
Getty Images: Taylor Swift’s cat, Olivia Benson, isn’t the wealthiest pet ever (Credit: Getty Images)
Swift’s alleged millionaire cat isn’t even the wealthiest pet ever, according to the report: She ranks behind both a German shepherd named Gunther VI – reportedly worth a cool $500m (£396m) – and Nala Cat, who has 4.5 million followers on Instagram. And then there’s Choupette, the cat belonging to the late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld – Lagerfeld once told The Cut that Choupette had earned €3m (£2,558,207) in one year.
But are these online net worth calculators at all accurate – and where does their data even come from?
In their report, Cats.com claims to have used “data from Instagram” to come up with the net worth of celebrity pets – an approach that finance experts say is far from accurate.
Netflix Gunther VI is a German shepherd who is reportedly worth $500m (£396m) (Credit: Netflix)
Financial advisor Travis Brown is both a securities agent and an investment advisor, whose firm oversees $59 billion in assets. He tells the BBC that while coming up with someone’s net worth should be straightforward using a “simple calculation of assets minus liabilities”, it’s challenging for outsiders because that information is usually kept private. Calculating a celebrity’s net worth, or their pet’s, would require a good deal of guesswork – because outside of the celebrity’s own financial advisors or attorneys, no one is going to have the detailed financial records necessary to make that calculation, Brown explains.
Jen Reid, founder of BASE Financial Management, specializes in financial advice for both millionaires and millennials – two boxes Swift checks. Reid agrees with Brown and adds that sites – such as Idol Net Worth or Celebrity Net Worth – that claim to know the nitty-gritty of a celebrity’s wealth also need to be taken with a grain of salt because you never know how much of that celebrity’s income they are spending. And when someone is earning the kind of money Taylor Swift does, says Reid, these “calculators” are likely to be even more off base. “She may have spent some of that on liabilities or other life expenses – maybe some private jet trips, travel, dinners,” Reid tells the BBC. “Or she may have invested it in assets like houses, businesses, or other equity and income-producing ventures.”
AlamyKarl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette reportedly earned €3m (£2,558,207) in 2014 (Credit: Alamy)
But the inaccuracy of online net worth calculators – for both pets and humans – doesn’t mean celebrity animals aren’t worth something. Nala Cat has a book, a pet food brand, and a lot more to her name. Gunther VI is the star of a documentary on Netflix, which explores how he came into his enormous wealth. And animal actors (like Benson) have long been earning a decent income when working on set. According to the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), animal actors are paid a daily flat rate of $500/day (£396).
Jackie Hornung is the mom/owner of a very famous dog, Lumi, who goes by Little Bear Lumi on Instagram. He’s been on Good Morning America and can also be seen riding around New York City in Hornung’s backpack (so that he can legally ride the subway with her). Lumi hasn’t reached Benson’s alleged millionaire status, but he does earn a modest income for his work, says Hornung. “He does make money – enough to pay for his dog food and treats.”
As for Olivia Benson’s true fortune (or Meredith Grey’s or Benjamin Button’s), we may never know the accurate numbers. But that won’t stop the internet from “calculating” dubious net worth predictions for celebrities of all species.