The new year came with good news — Sister Wives returned to the small screen on Jan. 7, after being off the air for more than a year! That's right, for the entirety of 2017, we didn't get any new episodes featuring Kody Brown and his family.

Because of this, we had to get our updates on the Brown family — Kody, wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, and their collective 18 children — from social media. What we do know is they’re still happily together, despite earlier reports that Robyn might divorce Kody, and they're now calling Las Vegas home. All of that begs the question: How does Kody manage to make ends meet for his super-sized brood?

When we first met the Browns in 2010, the 48-year-old patriarch and wives Janelle and Meri were all working — though Meri lost her job soon after. Kody was never clear about what he did for a living, though he’d make mention of some sort of online ad sales work. It appears that he’s no longer involved in that, and instead, the family has been living off their earnings from the TLC reality series.

Exactly how much money that is isn’t clear. Reality producer Terence Michael has estimated that reality families earn about 10 percent of a show’s per-episode budget. TLC is said to spend anywhere between $250,000 and $400,000 per episode on its shows, which means the Browns take in $25,000 to $40,000. The show has run 127 episodes over its seven seasons, which would’ve made them, at minimum, a little more than $3 million. That’s not even factoring in earnings from side projects, like the wives’ online jewelry and clothing boutique, My Sister Wife’s Closet.

That said, with 23 total mouths to feed, that money doesn’t go a long way. In fact, Celebrity Net Worth reports Kody's worth to be $800,000. It’s nothing to scoff at for the normal person, but given what they should’ve made through the years, it’s a surprisingly low number.
Part of that likely has to do with the financial issues the family has faced since before the show, including Kody and Meri’s bankruptcy filing in 2005, and Christine’s in 2010.

sister wives cast — getty images

Things only got worse in 2014, when Robyn’s son Dayton got in a serious ATV accident that resulted in a major medical bill. Because of Kody’s reported six-figure debt, they were unable to pay the hospital, and a lien was put on their home until the debt was settled a year later. By 2015, it seemed like their finances were under control, but there's only been one season since. And with no plans for a new season in sight, Kody and his wives might have to find other work soon — if they haven’t already.