How Duck Dynasty's Company Really Got Rich

The Robertson family gained plenty of fame and wealth as a result of their long-running A&E reality television show Duck Dynasty. However, the Robertsons had already become quite successful prior to starring in their own series thanks to their family business.

Long before the A&E cameras started rolling, family patriarch Phil Robertson was a college football player with a promising professional future (via ESPN). While Phil could have committed to a career playing and coaching, he knew his real passion was hunting. "Playing football was a game. Hunting was my lifestyle," Phil explained to ESPN. Phil turned down a potential gig with the NFL because he would have had to put duck hunting on the back burner. Ultimately, he remained true to his passion. 

According to ABC News, Phil started whittling his own duck calls and felt they were better than anything he could buy at the stores. Per A&E's biography of the family's patriarch, Phil's Duck Commander Company was officially founded in 1973 and he started trying to convince retailers to start carrying his calls. However, he did not find success right away.

During his first year focusing on his handcrafted duck calls, he made $8,000. Eventually, however, Duck Commander started to see some success and all of Phil's dedication reaped major rewards.

Phil Robertson's determination was rewarded

By the time A&E started airing Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson's company had numerous contracts with major outdoor retailers (via ABC News). Phil's son Willie Robertson was involved in sales early on in the company, and he eventually moved into the role of president and then CEO. Willie created the Buck Commander brand — "a hunting DVD and gear company dedicated to his love of buck hunting" (per A&E) — in 2006 and, according to The Richest, the family's business was worth millions before Duck Dynasty was ever created.

The reality television show debuted in March 2012 and provided major opportunities for the entire Robertson family. By the end of 2013, revenues for Duck Commander had skyrocketed thanks to product tie-ins with the show (via Forbes). The company generated an estimated $400 million in revenues, with Walmart accounting for around half of that income.

The Robertson family took advantage of their reality television notoriety and created dozens of licensing deals for a wide variety of products. Shirts, books, greeting cards, branded outdoors gear, and the like brought in more revenue and further elevated the family's net worth.

Phil generated some negative headlines throughout the run of Duck Dynasty that, at various times, seemed poised to threaten the family's lucrative business deals. However, despite the various dramas and the series ending in March 2017, the Robertson family and business has remained plenty successful. Celebrity Net Worth suggests that Phil has a net worth of about $10 million, while Willie's net worth is in the neighborhood of $40 million (via Celebrity Net Worth).