These Stars and Businesspeople Were Not Always Wealthy...
Not every person who has a massive amount of money was born into wealth. In fact, the number of self-made stars and businesspeople may surprise you. Grinding to the top is a very real phenomenon, and there are countless success stories that can remind you of this fact.
These celebrities and successful businesspeople weren’t always uber-wealthy. Check out their stories of life before the money.
Most people know Leo DiCaprio as the jet-setting, model-loving, blue-eyed leading man who’s been a heartthrob for just about forever. And while Leo has certainly reached heights that most people can only dream of, he wasn’t always well off.
Oprah Winfrey is one of those rare celebrities who’s so famous that she only needs to use one name. Forbes pegs Oprah's net worth at around $2.7 billion, though some estimates put it higher. Oprah built her empire all on her own, and she’s a true rags-to-riches story.
Starbucks coffee is perhaps the most popular brand of the caffeinated brew in the world, as its billions of dollars in annual sales indicate. Howard Schultz is the man behind Starbucks, having restored the company to its current glory after a few years of lagging sales. If you love your Starbucks, you have Schultz to thank.
Younger generations may not realize Arnold Schwarzenegger’s global fame. Having won the title of Mr. Universe at age 20 and the Mr. Olympia title seven times, he was the foremost bodybuilder on the planet. And he was only getting started, as his career in Hollywood is what made him a true superstar.
Ralph Lauren has built one of the most successful, recognizable apparel brands on the planet. Even as the brand has become more ubiquitous, many see Ralph Lauren as synonymous with class, and Polo shirts and dresses straddle the line of casual and formal as few other brands can.
Casual music fans know Celine Dion for one thing and one thing only: the song "My Heart Will Go On." But look closer and you’ll see that Dion has compiled a long, successful career in music, having sold more than 220 million albums and earning nearly $38 million in 2019 alone.
Larry Ellison is the founder of Oracle, a successful company that offers integrated cloud applications and platform services. He’s become one of the richest men in the world due to his company's success, and his wealth is a far cry from the conditions he grew up in.
Of the massively wealthy individuals who have roots in poverty, J.K. Rowling's story is one of the most widely known, but that doesn’t make her ascent to success any less astonishing. Rowling has a past darkened by depression, and she was once a single mom who struggled to keep a roof over her and her child's heads.
You can be a rags-to-riches success story if you make $50,000 a year, or even less. But the most astounding stories of transcending poverty and finding financial comfort are those in which earnings start reaching the millions and even the billions. That’s why the story of Kenneth Langone, financier of Home Depot, is worth noting.
John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria is the man behind Paul Mitchell hair products. He’s also the co-founder of Patron Spirits International, the company that produces Patron tequila. DeJoria sold his stake in Patron to Bacardi for $5.1 billion, adding to his already sizable net worth.
Do Won Chang
Do Won Chang is the founder of the popular apparel brand Forever 21. He and his wife Jin Sook moved to America from South Korea in 1981, settling in Los Angeles and initially starting a coffee business that they hoped would lead them out of poverty. As it turns out, the coffee business didn't quite work out.
Every year, Forbes puts out a list of the richest people in the world, and every year, billionaire Sheldon Adelson comes in somewhere near the top. He’s the founder, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the nation, which is one of the most lucrative businesses a person can be in.
Despite having passed away several years ago, Steve Jobs left a massive legacy that includes being a self-made billionaire. His parents felt incapable of providing for Jobs in the way that they believed he deserved, and he was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He was by no means raised with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Lakshmi Mittal is known well among those who follow the construction industry, as he’s a steel magnate of the highest order. While he’s now a billionaire, Mittal was raised in India in poverty that many Americans cannot imagine. He grew up near the state of Rajasthan in northern India, where generational poverty is common.
Steve Bisciotti is known to most sports fans as the owner of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team, and those fans are certainly aware that Bisciotti is a wealthy person as all NFL owners are. But Bisciotti, who made his fortune by founding the talent and staffing company Allegis Group at the age of 23, never had it easy.
Shahid Khan is known as one of the most gregarious owners in professional sports. Khan has a broad profile in both the United States and England; he owns the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL and Fulham Soccer Club in the UK. Khan founded Flex-N-Gate, a company that produces original equipment for automobiles. He's also a billionaire.
George Soros is a divisive figure who’s now as synonymous with radical political change as he is for being a self-made billionaire. Soros is a billionaire nonetheless, and while accounts of his upbringing are conflicted, there’s no denying that he was in a precarious situation as a child.
Jan Koum is the founder of popular messaging application WhatsApp. He grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, a nation that’s not known for having a large population of wealthy residents. Koum was not wealthy and eventually migrated to California with his mother. Koum swept floors to make whatever money he could.
Roman Abramovich was born into poverty in Russia. Abramovich was an orphan at two years old, and an uncle took him in, raising him in a remote region in northern Russia. In 1987, Abramovich was a student at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute, where he got a feel for engineering.
Shania Twain is one of the more popular, accomplished country music stars of her time, and she fits the perception of country music stars coming from hardship, even if her music hasn’t always reflected it. Twain is Canadian, and she grew up in a household in Ontario where hunger and poverty were ever-present.
Jim Carrey is a Canadian who has used humor to amass his wealth, as he was once among the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. A look at Carrey's upbringing may be further evidence that comedy is a good way to deal with tough circumstances.
Tom Cruise is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and despite being well into his 50s, Cruise continues to take on high-stress roles in movies such as the Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher franchises. Cruise has always been intense, and some may not realize that he had a tough childhood.
Demi Moore may be known to younger people as Ashton Kutcher's ex-wife, but she made a name in her own right as one of the best-known actresses of her generation by starring in acclaimed movies such as A Few Good Men. Most estimates peg Moore's net worth at over $100 million, but it was never a guarantee that she would be wealthy.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker became a global star once Sex and the City became a major hit, and she has gone on to star in several movies and television shows, doing quite well for herself financially. But Parker isn’t the daughter of any Hollywood royalty, and her success was hard-earned.
Jay-Z rose to prominence in a time when, in order to be credible as a rapper, you almost had to come from hard beginnings. Until the likes of the Beastie Boys, being raised around poverty and crime was a prerequisite for rap credibility. Jay-Z isn’t unique among his peers in that he was raised in the projects and sold drugs.
Like his contemporaries Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, Sean "Diddy" Combs came to prominence during a time when being successful in hip-hop meant that you had to have street credibility. Often, that meant being poor and raised amongst violence. Born and raised in the Harlem section of New York City, Combs reportedly had a paper route as a boy to earn money to buy what he wanted.
Halle Berry has played a Bond girl and has had countless other roles throughout her successful movie career, and she’s the quintessential self-made actress. Berry had to work hard for every role she got in the beginning.
The actor some know as Sly, Sylvester Stallone, has a level of machismo that’s reflective of his tough upbringing in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. His father was an Italian immigrant who moved to America in the 1930s, and like most first-generation Americans, Stallone didn’t stumble immediately into wealth.
Joaquin Phoenix's stock as a movie star is perhaps higher than it’s ever been considering the success of his performance in Joker. He’s turned in a number of astounding performances over his career, and he’s known for playing the macabre roles with complete authenticity.
Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton tends to play characters with a Southern drawl, and that’s not by accident. He was born and raised in rural Arkansas, a state with some of the bleakest poverty in all of the United States.