Sam Donaldson Net Worth

Sam Donaldson is a household name, esteemed for his work as an American broadcast journalist. Sam Donaldson is known for his contributions as anchor and chief White House correspondent for ABC News. His net worth has been estimated by sources to be in the millions. Sam Donaldson’s wealth reflects both his longevity and success in the industry after More than five decades in broadcasting. Sam Donaldson offers an impressive example of dedication and success, with his estimated net worth a testament to his career achievements.

What’s Sam Donaldson’s net worth and salary?

Sam Donaldson, a former American journalist and anchor, has a net worth in excess of $50 million. From 1967 to 2009, Sam Donaldson was a reporter and anchor for ABC News. He was the official White House correspondent for ABC News from 1977 to 1989, and again from 1997 to 1999. Donaldson was also a panelist on ABC’s Sunday morning political affairs program, “This Week.” In 2013, Sam officially retired as a journalist from ABC News. Donaldson was awarded the Edward R. Murrow award, four Emmy Awards and three Peabody Awards.

ABC Salary History

Sam made $1-2 million per annum from ABC in the 1980s and 1990s. He was making $4-5 million per annum by the beginning of 2000.

Education Early Life and Education

Samuel Donaldson Jr. was the son of farmer Samuel Sr., and Chloe, a schoolteacher. He was raised on the family farm in Chamberino (New Mexico). Donaldson attended the New Mexico Military Institute, and later Texas Western College for his education. He was station manager at KTEP, the campus radio station.

Military Service and Career Beginnings

Donaldson enlisted with the US Army in 1956. Donaldson served as an artillery officer on active duty until 1959, and reached the rank of captain. After his discharge, Donaldson enlisted in the Dallas, Texas CBS television station KRLD-TV. He worked there for one year. After his discharge, he moved to New York City in search of a job as a broadcast journalist. He was unsuccessful. Donaldson’s luck was better in Washington, DC, when he was hired by WTOP TV in the early 1960s. He covered national and local news for the station. This included major stories like Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign or the Senate debates about the civil rights bill. Donaldson was also the anchor of the Saturday evening newscasts.

ABC News Part 1

In late 1967, Donaldson was appointed as the Washington correspondent for ABC News. He covered both major political parties’ conventions over the next two years. He was also appointed to anchor the late-night weekend newscasts. Donaldson covered many important national stories in the 1970s. He covered the Vietnam War in the early part of the decade and was ABC’s chief Watergate correspondent. He reported on the Watergate trial, Senate hearings, and the Nixon impeachment investigation.

Donaldson was a reporter covering the 1976 presidential campaign for Jimmy Carter and was named ABC’s official White House correspondent early 1977. He held that position until early 1989. From 1979 to 1989, Donaldson was also the anchor of ABC’s Sunday night news broadcasts. From 1981 to 1996, he was a panelist for “This Week with David Brinkley” on Sunday mornings. Donaldson, along with Cokie Roberts, became co-anchor in 1996 after Brinkley retired. They remained in their respective positions until 2002 when George Stephanopoulos replaced them.

ABC News Part 2

Donaldson was the anchor of ABC’s magazine show “Primetime Live” from 1989 to 1999 with Diane Sawyer. One of his most memorable reports featured Erich Priebke (a former Nazi Gestapo officer who fled to Argentina after the war). Donaldson was able to interview Priebke which led to the Nazi criminal being extradited and a life sentence in Italy. Donaldson also covered the Gulf War, and reported from Kuwait City. Donaldson was on assignment to Sarajevo in 1992 when David Kaplan, his producer, was shot by a sniper. Donaldson reported from Belgrade on the incident that night.

Donaldson was reappointed White House correspondent in 1997 and remained there until 1999. He covered the Monica Lewinsky affair and the impeachment Bill Clinton’s second term. He also anchor “20/20” during this time. In 2009, Donaldson left ABC. He left the network having covered every major party convention over his 40+ year tenure.

Federal Aid Scandals

Donaldson was one of the wealthy, but absentee recipients of federal subsidies in 1995 federal aid scandal. He had received almost $200,000 in mohair subsidies to a farm where he was absentee. Donaldson was implicated in another federal aid scam a year later when it was revealed that he had been using exorbitant federal resources for the killing of wild animals on his ranch. This caused outrage among animal rights activists, as well.

Board Appointments

Donaldson has served on many boards over the years. He was previously a member of Library of American Broadcasting’s board of directors and president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ advisory board. Donaldson was later elected to the Ford Theater Advisory Council, and New Mexico First, which is the state’s bipartisan booster organization.

Personal life

Donaldson has been divorced and married multiple times. From 1954 to 1962, he was married to Patricia Oates, his first wife. From 1963 to 1980, he married Billie Kay Butler. Donaldson married Janice C. Smith in 1983. They were together until their divorce in 2014. He married Sandra Martorelli that year. They now reside in Albuquerque (New Mexico). Donaldson is the father of four children, Samuel, Jennifer and Thomas.


Sam owned and operated a 27,000-acre cattle ranch in Lincoln County for many decades. Cody Posey, a 14-year-old boy from the family, killed three members of the ranch’s foreman’s household in July 2005. Cody was arrested and sent to juvenile detention, where he would remain until his 21st birthday. He was eventually released in 2010.

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