What Is CNN Don Lemon’s Salary and Net Worth?

Don Lemon has been earning a seven-figure salary for over four years now. He joined CNN in 2006 after gathering a wealth of experience at other TV networks where he earned thousands of dollars that laid the foundation for him to grow his wealth to $12 million.

In addition to working as the host of CNN Tonight, Lemon has also worked as a correspondent on CNN Newsroom and Cuomo Prime Time. No wonder he currently earns an annual salary of $4 million, joining the league of the highest-paid CNN anchors.

More so, his over two decades career has earned him three regional Emmy Awards and Edward R. Murrow Award. Aside from what he makes from his career in journalism, the award-winning reporter has also earned from his work as an author, as well as a real estate investor.

Is Don Lemon the Highest-Paid TV Anchor? 

Though not the highest-earning TV anchor in the United States, Don Lemon is among the most paid with his annual salary of $4 million. The most paid is Sean Hannity who is popular as the host of The Sean Hannity radio talks show and Fox News Channel’s Hannity show. For his work at Fox, he pockets $25 million annually and then earns $15 million per year from the syndication deal of his radio show, making it a total of $40 million per year. His net worth is estimated at $250 million.

Don Lemon's net worth
Don Lemon and Sean Hannity (Image Source)

The second highest-earning TV anchor is Diane Sawyer who makes $22 million in annual salary. She is known as the former anchor of ABC World News, as well as Good Morning America, and was paid $12 million per annum at the time. She became a Disney Legend in 2019 following her long-term association with ABC News which is owned by Walt Disney and has a net worth of $80 million.

Robin Roberts takes the third spot with an annual salary of $18 million. She gained popularity as the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. She began earning a $14 million annual salary in 2013 after penning a new contract and then had a salary raise in 2016 when she started earning $18 million. Robin has so far amassed a net worth of $45 million.

Other notable journalists who have made the list of the highest-paid TV anchors include George Stephanopoulos ($15 million), Anderson Cooper ($12 million), Shepard Smith ($10 million), Maria Bartiromo ($10 million), Joe Scarborough ($8 million), and Bret Baier ($7 million).

His Earning Power Surged When He Joined CNN in 2006

In September 2006, Don Lemon became a member of the staff of CNN. He initially worked as a correspondent and weekend evening anchor of CNN Newsroom for which he earned $128,000. He eventually gained prominence as the host of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, a role he took up in 2014.

He has interviewed many political personalities on the No Talking Points segment of the late evening news program. Don has also served as the host of a CNN podcast titled Silence Is Not An Option. While working as a reporter for the cable network, Lemon covered a wide range of stories including the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge in 2007, Hurricane Gustav, the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, and the shooting that occurred at the Colorado Theater in 2012.

Between 2013 and 2018, he provided on-the-scene reportage of the Boston marathon bombing, Charleston Church shooting, the trial of George Zimmerman, the Las Vegas shooting, the Philadelphia building collapse, Hurricane Florence, and many other stories. Having displayed a high level of professionalism while executing his roles, the famous TV anchor earned an annual salary of $1 million in the year 2016. He then became $128,000 richer the next year following his work as the host of CNN Newsroom.

Later in 2019, Don Lemon jacked up his net worth with an annual salary of $1 million which has presently skyrocketed to $4 million. It’s no surprise that he is being paid such a whopping sum for his work at CNN as his reporting skill and work ethic have bagged him many accolades since joining the establishment. He was voted among Ebony Magazine’s 150 Most Influential African Americans in 2009 and later in 2014, he made the list of 50 Most Influential LGBTQ People in Media by Advocate. Additionally, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding coverage of the Manchester Concert Attack.

A Breakdown of Don Lemon’s Earnings Over the Years

  • 2016   –   $1 million
  • 2017   –   $1million
  • 2018   –   $1million
  • 2019   –   $1million
  • 2020   –   $4 million

His Journalism Career Is the Major Source of His $12 Million Net Worth 

Known as one of the most forthright anchors, Don Lemon started working as a journalist while in college. Before graduating from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism in 1996, he served as a news assistant at WNYW TV situated in New York City. Afterward, he was hired by WBRC TV in Birmingham, Alabama where he worked as an anchor.

He later joined KTVI TV located in St. Louis, Missouri as an investigative reporter and anchor. Before moving to NBC5 in 2003, the journalist got associated with Philadelphia-based NBC affiliate, WCAU TV, where he took up the role of a general assignment reporter and weekend anchor. Having worked at different media outlets for several years after graduation, Lemon must have pocketed a good fortune.

He garnered wide recognition for his roles at NBC News in New York. There, he worked as a correspondent, making appearances on The Today Show, as well as NBC Nightly News. He also covered multiple local and international stories at the time, including SARS in Canada and the bursting of Space Shuttle Columbia. Don Lemon further built his net worth with what he made from his role as the co-host of Weekend Today and from featuring in some programs on MSNBC.

Joining WMAQ-TV also known as NBC5 in Chicago in August 2003, the Louisiana native took up reporting roles and equally worked as the 5 PM news anchor. He spent three years at the news network during which his exceptional journalistic skills landed him three Emmy Awards following his coverage of the Craigslist real estate listings and HIV/Aids pandemic in Africa. He also won the Edward R. Murrow Award while at NBC News. This raised his profile in the field and CNN came calling for him.

Revenue from His Book and Profit from Real Estate Investments Have Made Him Wealthier

In the year 2011, Don Lemon released his first publication, an autobiography entitled “Transparent”. Although how much he made from the book is not known to the public, it must have added a significant amount to his net worth.

(Image Source)

As a real estate investor, the accomplished anchor purchased a 1,417 square foot condominium in Harlem for under $1.5 million in 2013. He later listed the apartment which has two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a state-of-the-art kitchen for $1.75 million in February 2020.

In 2014, he sold a condominium for $710,000 and also raked in $969,000 four years later from the sales of one bedroom, one bathroom neighboring apartment which he owned. Lemon purchased a home valued at $3.1 million in the Hampton neighborhood of Sag Harbor in 2017.

All the Sources of the Journalist’s Wealth

  • Journalism career; earned over $10 million
  • Book sales; N/A
  • Real estate investments; N/A


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