Jay Leno Net Worth, Career, Biography, Facts, Age, Life Story

Jay Leno is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and former late-night television host who has a net worth of $450 million. After doing stand-up comedy for years, he became the host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC from 1992 to 2009. During his time hosting The Tonight Show, Jay earned $320 million in salary, before taxes. Jay famously still performs dozens of standup shows throughout the year and reportedly only ever lived off this money, while banking his NBC salary checks. Jay owns an extremely valuable car collection. The value of his 300+ vehicle stable is, at minimum, $100 million.

Early Life

James Douglas Muir Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York, on April 28, 1950. His mother was a stay at home mom and his father was an insurance salesman. He had an older brother, Patrick. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts. He graduated from Andover High School in 1968. He got his bachelor’s degree in speech therapy from Emerson College and started a comedy club at his university in 1973.


Jay Leno made his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” on March 2, 1977, as a featured comedian. During the 1970s, Leno appeared in a number of minor roles in films and televisions shows including “Good Times,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Alice,” “One Day at a Time,” and “American Hot Wax.” He also appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” as the featured comedian several times.

Leno was a regular substitute host for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” starting in 1986. In 1992, he replaced Carson as host in the midst of controversy with David Letterman, who had been hosting “Late Night with David Letterman,” which aired after “The Tonight Show,” since 1982. Many people, including Carson, expected Letterman to be the next host of “The Tonight Show.” The story of the drama surrounding this transition was turned into a book and a movie.

Leno continued to perform as a stand-up comedian during his years on “The Tonight Show.” In 2004, Leno signed a contract extension with NBC to keep him on “The Tonight Show” until 2009.

Jay stepped down to retire in 2009 but soon made a return to television with a prime time talk show called “The Jay Leno Show.” The show aired weeknights on NBC in September 2009 but was canceled in January 2010. Jay then caused a national outcry when he reclaimed his position as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2010, pushing aside his replacement Conan O’Brien. On April 3, 2013, NBC announced that Leno would leave “The Tonight Show” in spring 2014, with Jimmy Fallon as his designated successor.

Leno has maintained an active schedule as a touring stand-up comedian appearing in about 200 live performances a year in venues across the United States and Canada as well as charity events and USO tours. He has also made appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” as well as being a guest on the finale of “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

Personal Life

Jay Leno has been married since 1980 to Mavis Leno. The couple has no children. Mavis is a leading feminist in California, the United States, and internationally. Mavis Leno keeps a low profile in comparison to her husband, choosing instead to work behind the scenes of the non-profit, politically charged groups she supports and runs. Leno has been the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan since 1997. In 1999, Mavis and Jay donated $100,000 to the organization, to further the cause of educating the public about the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban.

In 1993, Leno’s mother died at the age of 82 and in the following year, his father died at the age of 84. Leno’s older brother Patrick Leno died in 2002 at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer.

Leno is dyslexic and has a prominent jaw, which has been described as mandibular prognathism.

Leno does not drink, smoke, or gamble.

Salary Highlights

At the end of his reign as host of The Tonight Show, Jay was earning an annual salary of $15 million. His peak Tonight Show salary was $30 million per year. He actually agreed to a 50% pay cut after the 2011 season to help his staff get raises and keep their jobs. Jay earns around $10 million per year from a hectic stand-up touring schedule which includes more than 200 dates a year. Incredibly, throughout his career, Jay never touched his Tonight Show salary and instead lived off his stand-up income. Furthermore, Jay does not have an agent or a manager to help him negotiate deals.

Jay Leno’s Salary Breakdown

1992- $1 million

1993- $1 million

1994- $3 million

1995- $3 million

1996- $5 million

1997- $5 million

1998- $5 million

1999- $10 million

2000- $12 million

2001- $15 million

2002- $20 million

2003- $20 million

2004- $20 million

2005- $20 million

2006- $20 million

2007- $20 million

2008- $20 million

2009- $30 million

2010- $30 million

2011- $25 million

2012 -$15 million

2013 -$15 million

Total career earnings: $320 million

Real Estate

In 2017, Leno bought an oceanfront mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for $13.5 million. The estate, known as Seafair, was built in the 1930s. The 15,851 square foot home sits on 9-acres and has 12 bedrooms, 12 full bathrooms, and three half-baths. The property has an oceanfront pool and tennis court.

Leno also owns two homes in Bel Air, California. He bought the first home, a 3,400 square foot, five-bedroom property in 1987, and added the second property down the hill in 1997.

Leno also has a 122,000-square-foot hangar in Burbank, California that serves as the garage for most of his collection of cars and motorcycles.

Jay Leno Car Collection

Jay Leno is an avid car collector and owns nearly 300 vehicles. His car collection is easily worth more than $100 million. He has a website and a TV program called Jay Leno’s Garage, which contains video clips and photos of his car collection in detail, as well as other vehicles of interest to him. For more information on Jay Leno’s car collection please read this article.

Net Worth:$450 Million
Salary:$15 Million Per Year
Date of Birth:Apr 28, 1950 (71 years old)
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.803 m)
Profession:Actor, Television producer, Screenwriter, Voice Actor, Stand-up comedian, Television presenter, Comedian
Nationality:United States of America