Big Bird Is Richer Than Romney

Monday, 08 Oct 2012 04:01 PM

By Ernest Istook

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Big Bird has been occupying public television for 43 years, yet he's definitely part of the 1 percent.

Big Bird is richer than Mitt Romney. Sesame Workshop (successor to Children's Television Workshop), reported to the IRS a $356-million net worth as of June 30, 2011, compared to Romney's estimated worth of about $250-million.

big-bird.jpg
Big Bird's nest is well feathered yet Sesame Workshop gets about $6 million a year in "government grants."
(Getty Images)
Obviously, Big Bird's nest is well-feathered. His diet isn't exactly bird seed.

Despite scare headlines, (such as HuffPo's "Mitt Romney's Big Bird Attack Threatens Thousands of U.S. Jobs") this avian is no endangered species.

Sesame Workshop boasts its $356-million value even after it paid $180-million in 2000 to buy-out the rights to the Muppets from the late Jim Henson.

Sesame Workshop has a liquid cushion of over $130-million in cash and securities, while other parts of the current worth are labeled "intangible" assets. Royalty receipts alone generate $47 million a year, thanks to annual sales of $515 million in Sesame Street branded products, according to Forbes.

These products include dolls, puppets, books, music, DVD's, T-shirts, bibs, potty chairs, shampoo, video games, and more.

How does Sesame Street rank among other best-selling entertainment franchises? Forbes' article describes Sesame Street's neighborhood like this:
  1. Disney Princess (Disney) $1.6 billion in 2011 retail sales
  2. Star Wars (Lucasfilm) $1.5 billion
  3. Pooh (Disney) $1.09 billion
  4. Cars (Disney) $1.05 billion
  5. Hello Kitty (Sanrio) $800 million
  6. Mickey & Friends (Disney) $750 million
  7. WWE (WWE) $700 million
  8. Toy Story (Disney) $685 million
  9. Peanuts (Iconix, Peanuts Worldwide) $600 million
  10. Sesame Street (Sesame Workshop) $515 million
  11. Disney Fairies (Disney) $435 million
  12. Thomas the Tank Engine (Hit Entertainment) $390 million
  13. Garfield (Paws Inc.) $370 million
  14. Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon) $330 million
  15. SpongeBob (Nickelodeon) $330 million
  16. Spiderman (Marvel/Disney) $325 million
  17. Ben 10 (Cartoon Network) $295 million
  18. Angry Birds (Rovio) $250 million
  19. Batman (DC/Warner) $245 million
  20. Barbie (Mattel) $242 million
Big Bird no more needs government funding than Barbie, Spiderman, Winnie the Pooh, or SpongeBob.

Yet the IRS filing shows Sesame Workshop gets about $6 million a year in "government grants" (which are not itemized). He doesn't need it.

Big Bird won't be carved up on anybody's Thanksgiving platter (even though he's plumper than any turkey). Public television nurtured Big Bird, but he's 8-feet tall and full-grown. It's time for him to move out of his parents' basement.

Angry Birds are doing fine without government money. So should a nice one like Big Bird.

Former Congressman Ernest Istook hosts the daily "Istook Live" radio talk show, available at www.istook.com, broadcast from The Heritage Foundation 9 a.m. to noon (Eastern) Monday through Friday. He is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read more reports from Ernest Istook — Click Here Now.

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