What Grumpy Cat is worth: Did Tabatha Bundesen's pet really earn $100 million?

How Grumpy Should We Be About Grumpy Cat’s Earnings?

How Grumpy Should We Be About Grumpy Cat’s Earnings?

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 8 2014 12:59 PM

Has Grumpy Cat Really Earned $100 Million?

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Team $99.5 million?

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MTV

It's the depressing question of the moment the Internet is dying to answer: How much does Grumpy Cat actually earn?

Over the weekend, the Daily Express reported that Tardar Sauce, the mixed-breed feline better known as Grumpy Cat, has made nearly $100 million off her widespread Internet fame. "She's unstoppable," Express quoted her owner, 28-year-old Tabatha Bundesen, as saying. If true, that would mean Grumpy Cat's total earnings easily outstrip what stars like Kanye West, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cristiano Ronaldo are thought to be bringing in for this year.

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Since that initial story came out, though, Bundesen has pushed back on the 64 million British pounds, or $99.5 million, that her pet was said to have made. She told the Huffington Post that those figures were "completely inaccurate" but declined to specify how much money her has cat actually generated.

At last count, Grumpy Cat's viral empire included an original movie, a soundtrack to accompany that movie, a line of plush toys, various self-help and life-advice books (one of which became a New York Times best-seller), T-shirts, a calendar, her own line of premium coffee, and other assorted merchandise. In May 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that Grumpy Cat, excluding the movie deal, had made her owner "a low-six-figure sum." More recently, Ben Lashes, the talent manager credited with building Grumpy Cat's fortune, told Hollywood Reporter in July that Grumpy Cat had produced about $100 million in revenue. "This is a seven-figure cat, for sure," he said.

Lashes has worked with famous felines since 2009, when he approached family friend Charlie Schmidt about hyping Keyboard Cat. He said last fall that he hoped to get Grumpy Cat on Saturday Night Live, and Grumpy Cat has since been mentioned in at least one Weekend Update segment. "Grumpy Cat doesn't slum it walking up and down Sunset," he told New York magazine when the cat and its entourage ordered an Uber SUV to travel a block and a half in Hollywood. "Grumpy Cat pimps it."

Lashes did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Grumpy Cat's earnings, and Bundesen told Huffington Post that she is still considering when to release additional details. So for now it seems safe to assume that Grumpy Cat's earnings aren't $99.5 million depressing. But yeah, they're still depressing.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.