Like coffee at Luke’s or Friday-night dinner, Emily and Richard’s wealth is a constant in the world of Gilmore Girls. It allows Rory to attend the prestigious (and pricey) Chilton Prep, then Yale, all while underscoring the series-long tension between Lorelai and her parents. It’s a world Lorelai walked away from as a teenager — but as an adult rewatching, you can’t help but notice its charms. After all, as Emily proved in Season 4, an angry shopping spree where you can buy Manolo Blahniks, a diamond watch, and a vintage China set without a thought (in the amount of time I’d need to check my bank’s mobile app balance) isn’t the worst way to cure a bad day.
So, how do Emily and Richard afford their lavish lifestyle? For starters, they both come from wealthy families. This is most clearly demonstrated through Lorelai “Trix” Gilmore, Richard’s mother, who had enough coin to offer Rory a $250,000 trust fund. However, Emily’s family did pretty well, too — in fact, her great-uncle founded the hospital Richard goes to in Season 1.
Richard also brings in plenty of money from work. Before branching out and starting his own consulting company in Season 2, he works as the executive vice president of an insurance company called Gerhman-Driscoll. It doesn’t exist IRL, but he tells Rory it’s one of the largest firms in the country. If it’s anything like Berkshire Hathaway, which Investopedia notes is one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, he could be earning up to $544,000 a year, according to Glassdoor’s estimate.
While Emily may not directly contribute to the couple’s annual earnings, she certainly plays a major role in running the home (which, based on a similar mansion in Hartford, Connecticut, could go for more than $3 million today). Fortunately, she has a revolving door of chefs and housekeepers to help her do that — to the point that neither Emily nor Richard ever had to learn how to make a frozen pizza, one of life’s simplest pleasures.
So, by all accounts, Lorelai’s parents are super wealthy. They have enough to get a Yale astronomy building named in Rory’s honor, apparently! (Getting just a lab named at Yale’s nursing school, for reference, costs a whopping $5 million. So they must have dipped into that deep well of family money.) But even with all that, they’re not the richest people in the world of Gilmore Girls. This is made clear after Rory’s first meeting with her college beau Logan’s family, the Huntzbergers, who weren’t the most welcoming of her — or, rather, her family’s particular level of wealth. As Shira Huntzberger once put it, “Frankly, Emily, there’s your money, then there’s our money.”