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CNN’s Anderson Cooper is not just one of the most popular TV news hosts in America. He’s also one of the richest. The 55-year-old 60 Minutes correspondent and anchor of Anderson Cooper 360° has achieved fame as a journalist and is a descendant of one of the wealthiest men in American history. But his money doesn’t come from a trust fund.

Anderson Cooper is worth $50 million

Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The silver-haired reporter is worth an estimated $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Variety estimates that CNN pays its star anchor $12 million a year. Combine that with a couple of best-selling books, including The Rainbow Comes and Goes, which he co-authored with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, and his income from 60 Minutes, and it’s easy to see how he’s amassed a sizable net worth.

He doesn’t have a trust fund

Cooper, who started working as a reporter in 1992, is a member of the famous Vanderbilt family. His late mother is the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a 19th-century railroad baron who once ranked as the second-richest American in history after John D. Rockefeller.

As with many wealthy families, the Vanderbilt fortune led to conflict. When Gloria Vanderbilt was a child, she was the subject of a bitter custody dispute between her mother and her aunt, both of whom wanted control of her multi-million-dollar trust fund. By that time, the Vanderbilt family millions had been spread among numerous descendants, some of whom were better at spending money than making it.

Cooper’s mother later worked as an artist, actor, writer, and fashion designer. Her line of jeans was extremely popular in the 1970s. But she ran into money problems of her own, at one point having to move in with her son after she sold her homes to pay back taxes, according to CNN.

Vanderbilt is reportedly worth $200 million today. However, Cooper has said he has no expectation of seeing any of that money.

“My mom’s made clear to me that there’s no trust fund. There’s none of that,” he told Howard Stern in 2014. “[And] I don’t believe in inheriting money.”

He got to where he is today through hard work  

In interviews, Cooper has acknowledged that he has advantages that many people do not.

“I think my mom and dad both wanted to get across to me that … I obviously grew up with great privilege and was very lucky and was able to afford college and not have student loans, and they would pay for college, but beyond that, it would be up to me to make a living,” he said in a 2016 interview with People.

Cooper’s spent his life in the limelight – he was a child model and photographed by famed artist Diane Arbus as a baby. But he didn’t just waltz into CNN and get a job. After deciding he wanted to be a journalist, he grabbed a video camera, created a fake press pass, and headed to places like Burma and Somalia.

He was able to send his reports to Channel One, a news network broadcast in schools. From there, he went on to jobs at ABC and CNN. But it took him a while to find his footing. He was relegated to the worst time slots at ABC. Then, a gig hosting the reality show The Mole almost derailed his career as a serious reporter. But eventually, he found his niche at CNN, and the rest is history.