How Dolly Parton makes and spends her $375 million fortune

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton.Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
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  • Dolly Parton had an estimated net worth of $375 million in 2022, according to Forbes.

  • Her music catalog is worth about $150 million, but her Dollywood theme parks are her biggest asset.

  • She's given over 100 million books to children and donated $1 million towards the Moderna vaccine.

Forbes estimated in 2022 that Dolly Parton has amassed a $375 million fortune.

Dolly Parton
Country music legend Dolly Parton in 2017.NBC / Contributor / Getty Images

Parton wrote her first song at age 5 and played her first show at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry at 13. She released her debut album, "Hello I'm Dolly," in 1967 and skyrocketed to country superstardom with songs like "Jolene" and "9 to 5."

Her many accolades include spots in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Living Legends Medal from the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center Honors, a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy, and 10 Grammys.

About one third of her fortune comes from her music catalog, which is worth an estimated $150 million, according to Forbes.

Dolly Parton's albums on display in a hallway at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort.
Dolly Parton's albums on display at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Parton has released 52 studio albums and achieved 26 No.1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. She has also lent her songwriting talents to other artists, such as Whitney Houston's megahit "I Will Always Love You."

In a 2021 profile of Parton, Forbes estimated the value of her song catalog to be $150 million.

Parton still owns nearly all of the publishing rights to her music, reportedly earning between $6 million and $8 million in royalties every year.

Dolly Parton 1974
Dolly Parton performs onstage with an acoustic guitar, circa 1974.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When her contract with Combine Music expired in 1966, Parton founded her own publishing company with her uncle and then-manager Bill Owens. This has allowed her to maintain the publishing rights to almost all of her music and receive a publishing fee anytime one of her songs is played on the radio or used in film or TV, Forbes reported.

Dollywood, her theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is her biggest financial asset.

The entrance sign to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Dollywood.George Rose/Getty Images

In 1986, Parton partnered with the existing Silver Dollar City theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to remodel and rebrand it as Dollywood. She grew up less than 10 miles away, in Sevierville, Tennessee.

"I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area," Parton told the Associated Press in 2010. "Sure enough, I was lucky, and God was good to me and things happened good. We started the park and 25 years later, we're still at it."

The park spans 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Parton's 50% stake in the theme park is worth about $165 million, Forbes reported in 2021.

A view of Dollywood from a bridge
Dollywood.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Dollywood remains the top tourist attraction in Tennessee with around 3 million visitors each year, according to CBS affiliate WVLT. A one-day adult ticket costs $89.

Her shares in Dollywood's Splash Country water park are worth an estimated $20 million.

Dollywood's Splash Country water park.
Dollywood's Splash Country.Dollywood

Opened in 2001, the 35-acre water park is located next to Dollywood. It operates seasonally, from May to September.

Parton also co-owns the DreamMore Resort and Spa with a stake worth $15 million.

Outside the Dollywood DreamMore Resort. A guitar-shaped statue with butterflies in the foreground, the white hotel building in the background
The Dollywood DreamMore Resort.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The 20-acre hotel features a shuttle to and from Dollywood and pieces of Dolly Parton memorabilia.

A chestnut "Dream Box" displayed in a glass case on the hotel's lower level contains a recording of "My Place In History," a song Parton wrote to be released on her 100th birthday in 2046.

Her lines of housewares, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and "Doggy Parton" pet apparel provide additional revenue streams.

A box of Dolly Parton cake mix at Food Lion.
Dolly Parton cake mix.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Parton's colorful collection of cookware and home decor is available at stores like Kohl's, Target, and JCPenney.

Her "Doggy Parton" pet gear, including bandanas, wigs, and toys, is available on Amazon, and a portion of sales support Willa B. Farms animal rescue.

After releasing two Duncan Hines cake mixes in 2022, the singer expanded the line to include mixes for corn bread, brownies, and biscuits along with her coconut- and banana-pudding cakes, Insider's Anneta Konstantinides reported.

Parton purchased the Brentwood, Tennessee, home she shares with husband Carl Dean for $400,000 in 1999.

Dolly Parton's home in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Dolly Parton's estate in Brentwood, Tennessee.Google Maps

The grounds of the 3,324-square-foot home include a tennis court, swimming pool, garden, and barns for livestock, the Daily Express reported.

In an interview published in the 2017 book "Dolly on Dolly," Parton said that she and Dean would take pictures of Southern mansions in Mississippi on their annual anniversary trip and note features they wanted to incorporate into their eventual dream home.

"I knew that house before it was built and I built it long before we could afford it 'cause I knew we'd be able to — someday," she said. "I scouted all over Tennessee for a piece of land with hills in front and a stream around it. It's got a bitty bridge, and I made sure it's just narrow enough so's no tour bus can git over it. Carl and me can walk around stark naked there and nobody'd see. We have chickens and cows and a vegetable garden. It's a quiet, homey place for me and the special people in my life."

It's a far cry from her roots: Parton grew up in a two-room log cabin with her parents and 11 siblings in Sevierville. The cabin had no electricity or running water, but Parton remembered her years there fondly in her 1973 song "My Tennessee Mountain Home."

Dollywood features a replica of her childhood home built by her brother, Bobby, and furnished by her mother, Avie Lee.

While she wears elaborate bedazzled outfits for public appearances and performing onstage, Parton is more frugal when it comes to her everyday clothes.

Dolly Parton in three looks: Green ensemble with flowers, blue and crystal adorned dress, orange and crystal tassel jumpsuit.
Dolly Parton fashion in 1978, 1989, and 2014.Ron Galella/Getty Images; Rick Diamond/Getty Images

In a 2020 appearance on the Scandinavian talk show "Skavlan," Parton said she buys most of her clothes off the rack and doesn't splurge on designer items.

"I really like to earn money, but I love to spend it, too. But I spend it on things that I feel like that's needed," she said. "I'm not the kind of person that will go out and spend like three or four thousand dollars on a coat or one outfit."

She added that the steep price tags on expensive items make her think of her parents, who "could have fed a family of 12 on what I would pay for a coat."

Parton is renowned for her generous charity work through The Dollywood Foundation, which she founded in 1988.

Dolly Parton performs at a concert to benefit Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Dolly Parton performs during a concert to benefit Dolly's Imagination Library and the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation in 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.Rick Diamond/Getty Images

"I just give from my heart," she said in a speech while accepting the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2022. "I never know what I'm going to do or why I'm gonna do it. I just see a need and if I can fill it, then I will."

She gives away around 2 million books to children each month through the foundation's Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton gives books to children through her Imagination Library
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in action.Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Parton founded her Imagination Library in 1995, inspired by her father's struggles with literacy. The nonprofit sends free books to children from birth through age 5 each month.

"This actually started because my father could not read and write and I saw how crippling that could be," she told the Associated Press in 2022. "My dad was a very smart man. And I often wondered what he could have done had he been able to read and write."

She continues to invest in her hometown, funding a new medical center and scholarships for students in her old high school.

The parking lot at LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville, Tennessee
LeConte Medical Center.Talia Lakritz/Insider

LeConte Medical Center opened in 2010 with the help of Parton's philanthropy and fundraising. She also funded its Dolly Parton Center for Women's Services and Dolly Parton Birthing Unit.

The Dollywood Foundation offers $15,000 scholarships to five high school seniors in Sevier County, Tennessee, and covers college tuition and books for its theme-park employees, according to CBS News.

Her $1 million gift to Vanderbilt University in 2020 proved integral to the development of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.

Dolly Parton receives the COVID vaccine.
Dolly Parton receives the COVID-19 vaccine she helped fund.DollyParton/Twitter

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine on the development of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine acknowledged the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund among supporters of the research.

Parton qualified to get the vaccine she helped fund in Tennessee in early February 2021, but she said she wanted to wait "until some more people" got theirs.

"I don't want it to look like I'm jumping the line just because I donated money," she told the Associated Press. "I'm very funny about that."

In a video of her getting the vaccine in March 2021, Parton sang a rendition of her hit song "Jolene," changing the lyrics to sing "vaccine, vaccine," and encouraged everyone to go get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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