Here’s How Kris Jenner Turned the Kardashian Name Into an Empire

Kris Jenner is the woman behind the Kardashian-Jenner family’s fame. Though the family name first graced the public’s ears during O.J. Simpson’s murder trial in the 1990s, Jenner grew the family’s publicity even more when she got the idea to sign her family up for a reality television show. Here’s how the “momager” was able to turn her children’s last names into a family empire.

The Kardashian-Jenner family
The Kardashian-Jenner family | Todd Williamson/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Jenner has Ryan Seacrest to thank for her show’s success

Jenner’s family had been through a lot of drama before the show even premiered. Her ex-husband, Robert Kardashian, helped defend O.J. Simpson during his murder trial. Jenner’s affair with Todd Waterman had caused her divorce from Kardashian, though she met and married Bruce Jenner shortly after her divorce was finalized. Her second oldest daughter, Kim Kardashian, had a sex tape leaked, which, though unfortunate, might have actually put Kardashian on the map. She struck up modeling deals and had a budding career before the show as well. And the Kardashian-Jenner blended family served as a modern day Brady Bunch, making it the perfect recipe for a reality show hit.

Back in 2006, established producer Ryan Seacrest was looking for a family to film, and when Jenner heard the news, she wanted her family to be the one. After a camera crew filmed a Kardashian-Jenner family barbecue one Sunday afternoon, Seacrest knew this was his reality television family. The show began filming quickly, and it premiered in 2007. Today, Seacrest and Jenner both still produce the show.

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The Kardashian-Jenner family is worth more than $1 billion.

The family played off of the natural drama that occurred among the children

The show resonated so well with fans because it provided plenty of comedic relief. Young adults could relate to what the Kardashians were going through, such as Kendall and Kylie Jenner navigating school and friendships, while Kourtney Kardashian navigated her complicated relationship with Scott Disick. Rob Kardashian was the only boy, so he quickly became the show’s heartthrob. And the natural drama that occurred among family members (who can forget when Kim Kardashian hit Khloé with her handbag) was more than enough to keep fans coming back. The show’s cast and problems all kept viewers on their toes, with some episodes more serious and others more comical. Eventually, Kris Jenner realized she could take the show to new heights.

Jenner, who manages all of her children, used the show to gain business deals for her kids

With the show’s ratings going so well, Jenner was able to secure business deals for her children in the form of modeling, brand partnerships, and more. As the business deals grew, so did the Kardashian-Jenners’ notoriety; the shows helped their brands, but their brands also helped the show. With both feeding off of each other, the women rose to immense fame — so much so that they ended up closing their Dash brand in 2018 after they had simply drifted too far from it. And through it all, Jenner remained their manager.

It also helped that the kids were seemingly plagued with drama all the time; from Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage to Kourtney Kardashian’s drama with Scott Disick to Khloé Kardashian’s cheating boyfriend, the family never ran out of reasons to film.

The Kardashian-Jenner fame exploded into something none of them could have seen coming

Though Kris Jenner has worked hard to keep her kids relevant, the fame the Kardashian-Jenners have seen was more than anyone could have bargained for. Today, the show is still running, but the women have all developed brands of their own. At this point, even if Jenner retired, her children would still find plenty of success. But Jenner still took her family to new heights, starting from a 30-minute television show to landing smaller business deals to taking off into a full-fledged empire.