Back in August, Sofia Franklyn, the 31-year-old host of popular podcast “Sofia with an F,” was speaking with her usual candor when she noted the importance she puts on dating a “wealthy” man.
“I’m not joking, I’ve asked the last three dudes I’ve dated for their bank account info on the first date,” Franklyn said.
The statements—tame in comparison to many of Franklyn’s conversations—caught on in conservative media, used as fodder on Fox News and making their way into the New York Post. Readers can imagine the comments and responses that followed: Among the nicest names she was called was a gold digger.
Franklyn has hosted “Sofia with an F” for almost three years, launching it shortly after her much-publicized split from mega-hit podcast “Call her Daddy” over disagreements with her contract renewal. She isn’t new to controversy; after she left “Call Her Daddy,” articles abounded about what happened between her and former former co-host Alex Cooper, who now runs her own media empire. But for as much as she’s used to igniting debate online, the uproar about her comments caught Franklyn, who calls herself “rarely very serious,” by surprise.
“I remember my mom called me and she said, ‘oh my god, you’re in the Buenos Aires newspaper.’ It went international. I was pretty taken aback,” Franklyn tells Fortune. “When these tiny little soundbites get picked up with no context…they can come off a certain way that maybe it wasn’t meant to.”
Franklyn says she lost a few thousand followers after the incident, mainly men. But she stands by her words. A woman discussing money is almost always controversial, she’s learning, whether she’s exaggerating her statements for comedic effect or not. Still, Franklyn says it’s important to be frank in conversations about money. And she’s learned enough over her career to ask for what she wants, regardless of how people react.
“I think it’s just insecure men who couldn’t handle a comment like that. I’m an incel’s worst nightmare,” she says. “Your partner should be on your same level…I want women to be careful out there.”
Franklyn’s road to success
Franklyn isn’t dwelling on the controversy. Despite what critics say, she is running her own successful business, fostering a community of loyal listeners while building her personal bank account in the process.
Her appeal since the Call Her Daddy days is that of your funniest friend who is always up for a good time. On a recent episode of “Sofia with an F,” she gave a deep-dive into her own personal finances with Ramit Sethi, a money guru and star of Netflix’s “How to Get Rich,” who congratulated her on her finances after viewing her accounts on air.
“We’re talking about a lot of money here,” Sethi said. “You will be a multi-, multi-, multi-millionaire.”
Her path to her current dream job wasn’t always straight-forward. Franklyn grew up in Utah, raised by a single mother. She says she wanted to make it to New York, but didn’t know how to get there. She ended up working in finance at Morgan Stanley out of college for four years, a job she disliked but knew would provide a stable income.
Franklyn describes herself as creative, observant, and a day dreamer. If she could give her younger self advice, she says it’d be to actually believe she was capable of doing what she dreamed of and take more risks. Rather than studying economics in college, she would have studied English or communications and bet on herself.
“Every single day I would sit in my cubicle and dream of podcasts, because I would listen to them all day,” she says. “I do think in a weird way I totally manifested where I am today.”
She started podcasting in 2018 with Cooper. The duo, who were best friends and roommates, would discuss their relationships, sex lives, and living in New York. It found an audience quickly, growing to over 2 million listeners in two months, according to AdExchanger. After just a handful of episodes, the pair soon agreed to a deal with Barstool Sports for a $75,000-per-year base salary, plus bonuses based on downloads and merchandise, and branded alcohol sales. With its instant success, they each reportedly earned $500,000 that year from the show alone.
When it came time to renew their contract, Franklyn wanted more. She reportedly asked for $1 million a year and a higher percentage of the merchandise sales; Cooper and Barstool founder Dave Portnoy cut her out completely. Portnoy and listeners alike called her greedy and disloyal.
Despite the drama surrounding that split, it’s hard to argue that she was wrong: A year later, Cooper famously inked a $60 million, three-year-deal with Spotify to distribute the podcast. Franklyn knew what the show she was making was worth.
It’s also hard to argue that her own path hasn’t worked out. She’s gone from living paycheck-to-paycheck to, she says, earning more than she did at Barstool even without the Spotify payday. It’s taken a lot of work, she says, and she sometimes has trouble drawing boundaries, an issue she did not have with her finance job. Because she posts about her life, she’s always wondering whether she should be filming something, whether it’s her vacation or nighttime routine.
Still, she’s not complaining. “I completely adore, love, and know how blessed I am to have this job. I am so grateful,” she says. “You get to do this s— you love, you just have to film it and make it for the general public and get paid. It’s amazing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The advice she would give to someone looking to make it in the current media environment: “Work your a– off.” And maybe take it easy on the partying.
Now that her show has turned her into something of an influencer, she knows how hard it can be not to compare yourself to others. But she encourages people to prioritize saving their money, no matter what lifestyles they see portrayed by friends or, yes, influencers on Instagram or TikTok.
“All designer bags that you see on Instagram are from Canal Street. Period. Fact,” she jokes. “Just stay in your lane and don’t compare. There is always going to be someone younger, hotter, richer, so you can’t think that way.”