Here's How Much Diane Sawyer Is Really Worth

American journalist Diane Sawyer has been working in television since the late '60s. That's right, Millennials, Diane Sawyer was on the small screen before you were even born. Sawyer has become a fixture in American homes, bringing incredible stories from across the world to millions of people every day. Her career is as storied as the news she's covered, and it's earned her a gigantic fortune: an estimated $80 million, in fact, according to Celebrity Net Worth

Sawyer's work has mostly been in broadcast journalism, but she did work in politics for a bit, too. She's interviewed some of the most famous — and infamous — people in the world, ranging from the likes of Julie Andrews to Saddam Hussein. She's also visited dozens of countries, reporting from places like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, to name just a couple. And sure, she's run into some cringe-worthy interview moments and her fair share of controversy over the years, and even took a step back from anchoring broadcast journalism in 2014, taking on a special contributor role as an investigative reporter at ABC News, telling viewers she would be delving into "some of the stories that take you into the real lives around us, the ones we rarely get to see."

Along the way, she's blazed a trail for other women in journalism, proving to be one of the most formidable in her field. Here's how Diane Sawyer fueled her passion to become the prominent and profitable journalist she is today.

Diane Sawyer's career began in weather broadcasting

Long before she was making millions of dollars a year, and long before we could read the forecast on our phones, Diane Sawyer was earning a living broadcasting the weather for a news station in Louisville, Kentucky. Sawyer told the Los Angeles Times, "That was literally the only job held by a woman at the station at the time." Sawyer began working in news in 1967, and the median household income in the United States that year was $7,200 per year, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Sawyer, whose father was a judge in Kentucky, transitioned into politics by moving to Washington, D.C. and working for the Nixon administration. After his 1974 resignation, Sawyer moved to California and ultimately helped the former president write his memoir. "I went out as a kind of researcher," she told Parade in 2010. "I didn't go out knowing initially that he was going to write a book."

Despite her political career beginnings and own personal beliefs, Sawyer's approach and concern have since remained the same — no matter the topic or medium. "I think no one knows my politics," she said. "I hope first of all that everyone knows that the facts are what I care about."

She was the first female 60 Minutes correspondent

Diane Sawyer made a smooth transition from politics back to television, melding the fields to be CBS' in-house State Department correspondent in Washington, D.C., per Britannica. The journalist quickly moved up in the network's ranks, becoming the first woman correspondent on "60 Minutes" in 1984, as told by the Los Angeles Times.

When she began her work on "60 Minutes," Sawyer was already earning a reported $800,000 per year, The New York Times reports. At the time of negotiation, she hinted to executives that she was interested in the coveted position. "A wave had begun to swell that was pushing me to do '60 Minutes,'" she said, adding, "I am really so happy to be here. I love the work."

Just two years into her "60 Minutes" gig, Sawyer renegotiated her contract with CBS News, reportedly bumping her salary up to $1.2 million per year, per The New York Times. According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, Sawyer's salary would be close to $3 million today. That's one lucrative glass ceiling.

Diane Sawyer's career took her to ABC

In 1989, Diane Sawyer left her position at CBS News to work for one of its competitors — ABC News. The jump shocked some, especially her co-anchors at CBS, and some speculated she moved for a higher salary, a rumored $1.5 million per year, according to The Washington Post. Sawyer, though, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that her decision to transition was not financial, saying, "It was not about the money. It was about how you're going to spend your working life over the next several years."

Her working life at ABC has been full, as she's anchored "PrimeTime Live," "Good Morning America," and "ABC World News Tonight," among others, and has had sit-down interviews with world leaders and accused criminals, like Barack Obama and Amanda Knox, respectively, per her ABC News biography. But long before those names were in our lexicon, Sawyer was proving to be an asset to ABC News, renegotiating her contract for a reported $5 million per year by 1994, as told by The New York Times.

Sawyer is still with the network, at the time of this writing. Her influence on American journalism is undeniable, and her salary after years in the business is just one piece of evidence.

Inside Diane Sawyer's influence at the network

Diane Sawyer hasn't just earned money for herself as a journalist — she's made a lot of money for ABC, too. In 1993, her "PrimeTime Live" was generating $85 million in annual income for the network, per The Baltimore Sun. In 1997, the show was ranked ninth in prime-time series, and that same year Sawyer extended her contract with ABC, earning $7 million per year, as told by the Los Angeles Times.

Sawyer is a leader at the network, as well. Per her ABC News biography, Sawyer's journalism has helped the network win awards and uncover groundbreaking stories, which she loves. As she shared with The Oprah Winfrey Show, "I am so lucky, because every place I've worked has been a different way of doing the main thing I love, which is looking into the lives of people." One of those people was Jaycee Dugard, a kidnapping victim who spent 18 years in captivity. Sawyer's interview with Dugard garnered 14.8 million viewers when it aired, per The New York Times, and viewers equals revenue.

As Forbes explained, advertisers look to ratings when deciding where to buy commercials, and ratings are calculated through viewership. The higher the ratings, the more advertisers will spend with the network. Sawyer's high ratings over the years have earned millions and millions for both ABC and her.

Diane Sawyer chose journalism over salary

Even though Diane Sawyer has accrued a giant net worth throughout her career, money has never been her main motivator. In her Emmys Hall of Fame Tribute, it was stated that the anchor turned down handsome contracts, including an offer from Fox worth $10 million. Her husband, Mike Nichols, said, "She gave up enormous amounts of money without blinking."

ABC News has shelled out plenty to keep her, though. In 2007, Sawyer was making $12 million per year, according to Forbes, and today she's earning an estimated $22 million per year, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Meanwhile, Sawyer has maintained that she loves journalism, noting to the Los Angeles Times, "I didn't get into this business for the money — I got into it for the work."

Sawyer's work speaks for itself, though. Not only have networks offered her millions of dollars to work for them, she's also won multiple awards, including a Daytime Emmy for "Good Morning America" in 2007 and a Hall of Fame tribute by the Television Academy a decade prior. "I think most people think the money is an amazing unintended consequence of a marketplace we don't fully understand," she was quoted as saying to USA Weekend Magazine of her impressive earnings at the time. "... We all say, 'Good heavens! How did this happen? How did we deserve this?' Other professions deserve so much more."

She was married to Mike Nichols

Diane Sawyer is independently wealthy, but her late husband was wealthy, too. Sawyer was married to director Mike Nichols for a quarter-century until the time of his death at age 83 in 2014. She previously told Harper's Bazaar it was love at first sight, saying, "I knew before he spoke, I knew before he was walking across the room. I knew something was happening."

For his part, Nichols earned his money directing movies and stage productions, notably "The Graduate," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Death of a Salesman." He left his fortune to Sawyer and his three children from previous relationships, per the New York Daily News. According to the outlet, Nichols was worth an estimated $20 million dollars at the time of his death, a figure they learned from Celebrity Net Worth. But as of 2021, the website reports his fortune as $100 million dollars.

Not unlike his journalist wife, however, money was not where Nichols found joy. "My happiness in life really started with seeing my children become astonishing people," he told New York Magazine. "But my ultimate happiness began in 1988 when I married Diane."

Diane Sawyer has made some real estate moves

With her multi-million-dollar fortune, Diane Sawyer has undeniably afforded herself luxurious places to live, like her Palisades home that went back on the market in 2016 for $4.6 million, per Architectural Digest. The home has a well-manicured landscape and boasts gorgeous views of the Hudson River. Basically? It's dreamy.

Sawyer lived in the Palisades home with her late husband, Mike Nichols, and they shared an apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, as well, according to New York Magazine. The couple, at one point looking to move in the late '90s, offered $8.5 million for an apartment in the infamous "Ghostbusters" building overlooking Central Park. It was previously owned by a string of people, including designer Calvin Klein — twice. Their offer was declined, though, and music executive Steve Gottlieb purchased the place.

For Diane Sawyer, though, the money and beautiful real estate all just seem to be byproducts of a career spent doing what she loves. If she weren't a journalist, she mused to Harper's Bazaar back in 2013, "I think I would probably still be wandering the world and looking for answers. ...I would be out there asking questions." We're certain she'd find them.