Jay Leno is my neighbor. He’s not my next-door neighbor, but our small Newport, RI community consists of around 60,000 people. Even though I’ve never met him, I hear he’s an extremely nice guy. That’s why this is a uniquely difficult article to write.
A couple of days ago I was reading Money Magazine and came across the following article:
I haven’t seen a money/celebrity article this bad since the famous Men’s Health/Erin Burnett article of late 2007. A few days after I pointed it out it started to make headline news.
This isn’t as bad as that one was, but it reminded me of it. (Now I wonder if the Kylie Jenner self-made billionaire mess was as bad.)
Let’s start with the subheader, “The comedian enjoys the fastlane – but lives like he’s on his last dime.”
I had trouble reconciling that with this piece of news from about 15 months ago, Jay Leno just bought a $13.5 million oceanfront mansion in Newport, R.I. — take a look inside
Here are some nuggets from the article according to the real estate listing:
A gated entrance and winding drive leads up to the estate, which sits on a 9-acre lot and features 15,851 square feet of living space. The home has 12 bedrooms, 12 full bathrooms and three half-baths, according to the listing. It’s also packed with luxe amenities, including a carriage house, walled garden and tennis court.
(Grrr… no Oxford comma!)
There’s more to the description, but a $13.5 million home tells you all you need to know. Using standard estimates on maintenance of a home of 1% of annual price per year, he’ll spend about $135,000 a year just to keep it as it is. Maybe it’s even more with the extensive landscaping.
Jay Leno’s “last dime” must be Scrooge McDuck lucky one.
Originally, I thought that the online version of May 15, 2018 was before he bought the mansion, but it was after.
The Money Magazine article above also mentions that he has around 350 motor vehicles. That includes one he bought in 1999 for $800,000. That’s over 1.2 million in inflation-adjusted dollars today.
I found only one thing in the article that led me to believe he’s frugal. Leno says he doesn’t spend much on clothes.
Leno does make an attempt to preach good financial habits. He says that he never bought anything before he could afford it, never bought anything on credit, and that cash is king. Unfortunately, these are all things that Paris Hilton could say as soon as she was old enough to talk. While Leno made his fortune himself, it’s doesn’t mean he’s frugal. Those financial habits are very easy to follow… if you have a net worth of $350 million.
The Money Magazine article finished up with a quote of “I live pretty frugally.”
If a $13.5 million home and a $70 million car collection*, is living frugally then, you too, can be frugal!
I’m having a lot of difficulty in trying to stretch that to be frugal… even in celebrity terms. I haven’t seen his car show, but if someone is making a show to show off dozens of millions of dollars of your purchases… you can’t say you “live pretty frugally.”
I’m almost having a lot of trouble trying to figure out what feels worse to me about this. Should it be:
- Jay Leno himself – I actually think that Jay Leno might deserve the least blame. He’s just saying things like they are for him and giving a little background in his past.
- Jay Leno’s publicist – Shouldn’t his publicist take a look at this and say, “Ummm, Jay, this comes off like an alcoholic claiming he isn’t one because he rarely drinks tequila. Instead he only drinks 2 liters of vodka by noon each day”?
- Money Magazine – Shouldn’t an editor at Money Magazine take a look at this and say, “We lose a lot of credibility when we blindly equate spending dozens of millions of dollars with being frugal. Only Larry Ellison** can relate when he reads this. The rest of our audience is going to collectively think WTF“?
I’m also confused about why Money Magazine would recycle this interview from about a year ago now. I wonder if they ran out of production time and quickly edited something old as filler.
I’m going to leave those questions up to you, the reader to answer. Let me know your thoughts in comments.
And if I’ve been a little harsh to Jay Leno here and he’s reading it, hopefully he has a sense of humor ;-). I’m not nearly as bad as John Oliver was a little over a week ago:
* This is estimated by adding the 50 more cars mentioned in this interview to the $50 million mentioned at that link.
** Larry Ellison is one of my other rich “neighbors”.