If you've watched the Paramount Network's Yellowstone and its prequel series 1883, you understand how important it is for the Dutton family to maintain the empire they have spent years building. The series stars Oscar-winner Kevin Costner as John Dutton, the owner of Yellowstone Ranch, which is the biggest in the country. Literally bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Set in Montana, the Dutton ranch is fictional, but is it based on any real rancher families? And how much are they actually worth?
As the owner of the largest ranch in the entire country, you'd have to assume John Dutton has a pretty hefty net worth. In terms of estimating what the fictional family's real wealth is like, we can only look to some similar ranchers outside the series. Here are a couple of comparable ranchers to give you an idea of what John Dutton would estimate in real life.
As the owner of the third-largest plot of land in all of Montana, Bill Galt is definitely an easy comparison for John Dutton. The ranch owner boasts around 250k acres and has been known to survey his land from a helicopter as we've seen John do. The Galt Ranch is located in White Sulphur Springs where the Galt family has been ranching for 100 years according to their website.
According to the Missoulian, Galt has also been known to help the Montana governor make influential decisions as one of the most prominent Republican ranchers in Montana. Sounds pretty similar to John who, as we know, is personally involved with all of the politics and legislation surrounding the state he loves so much.
In terms of estimation of wealth, look no further than the Waggoner Ranch in Texas. It's one of the biggest in the entire country, built up by the legendary W.T. Waggoner. Similar to the Yellowstone, it was founded in the 1800s and was built up to over 500,000 acres. In 2015, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke purchased the ranch from Waggoner's descendants for about $725 million.
The Yellowstone Ranch
Granted, that doesn't mean John Dutton actually has over $700 million in the bank. Part of the plot surrounding his cattle ranch is that Dutton is trying to maintain a certain way of life in Montana that has been consistently fading away. Property taxes and high expenses required to run such a vast family ranch have made John Dutton a bit cash poor, which is why his daughter Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) and son Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) see the value in accepting a major cash offer for the land in season 4.
"It is the most American of us, the West, and land developers sell that fantasy. And people who can afford the fantasy are very, very wealthy people from LA to New York, Dallas and Florida. They buy their slice of it and use it for a weekend getaway. In the process, those land values and inheritance taxes are killing a way of life."
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