Before it was written in the stars for these celebrities to become some of the wealthiest people on the planet, they endured hardships beyond your wildest imagination. Yes. Not every celebrity that saunters past you at a movie premiere rocking a diamond encrusted watch have it easy. There was no elevated to the top for the select few on our list today.
Some of them had to take the stairs, and trust me, the stairs were a long, bitter and unforgiving journey. They might now be living in some of the plushest mansions in Hollywood, but a few years back, some of these celebrities were on the verge of calling it a night under a bridge or resigning their fate to the ominous life of a homeless shelter.
Yet, despite all the odds stacked against them, they preserved on to amass wealth beyond our wildest dreams. These top five amazing rags to riches stories will prove to you once and for all that you don’t have to have a mighty family name to make it on the Forbes richest. Only one heck of a work ethic.
Eminem, 200 million dollars.
If not for the likes of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls cementing their names as the lyrical maestros of hip hop in the mid 90s, Eminem would have easily stolen the show. Before Marshall Bruce Mathers, the third embraced the ingenious mind of his alter ego, Slim Shady, he was born in 8 mile trailer park in east Detroit.
Barely three months after his birth, his father up and left his 17 year old mother to find new love and raise a different family in California. His mother, Deborah, struggled bitterly to get a half decent job, forcing the two to relocate on numerous occasions to different cities. This, as Eminem would later on confess, had a profound effect on young Mathers, who found it impossible to strike any decent relationships with friends and even focus on his studies.
To make matters worse, Eminem’s mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol, ruining any chances of a fruitful mother son relationship. Eminem even accused his mother of being the root cause of his own drug and alcohol addiction. Yes, we’ve all heard how passionately he talks about his abusive mother and his music.
But did you also know he was a victim of racial abuse as well? Indeed, growing up was tough for the young, scrawny Marshall Mathers. But every cloud has a silver lining. It is through his bleak existence of abuse and self-hatred that Eminem turned to rap as a form of mental escape. At the age of 17, Mathers made a crucial decision that would shape the course of his life history as we know it.
He dropped out of high school to pursue his one true love, hip hop. He started out by participating in numerous underground rap battles. At the same time, the young, energetic Mathers fell head over heels for fellow high schooler Kim Scott, and the two had a beautiful baby girl in 1995. We, of course, know her as Haley, Eminem’s precious daughter.
Between 1995 to 1999, Eminem focused solely on his rap career, releasing his first ever studio album, Infinite in 1997. It may not have gained him the commercial success that he was hoping for, but this brilliant gem is what caught the attention of one of the biggest rap producers at the time, Dr. Dre. Despite backlash from Dre’s close friends on signing a Caucasian rapper, Dre decided to take the talented Mathers under his wing and, well, the rest is history.
Eminem’s second album release, The Slim Shady LP, proved all the critics wrong. It sold a whopping 280000 copies and stormed in at the second spot on the US Hot 100 Billboard charts. To date, the album has sold over 18 million copies around the world. Eminem went on to release chart topping albums, including the Marshall Mathers LP and has won a series of accolades throughout his career.
Currently, he lives lavishly together with his daughter Haley, and boasts an impressive net worth of 200 million dollars.
Do Won Chang, 6 billion dollars.
The American Dream, don’t we all dream of it? It might seem impossible for many, but for Do Won Chang, it was destined to be his reality. Oh, pardon me, for those who the name doesn’t ring a bell, this is the reclusive business mogul behind the Forever 21 clothing stores. In fact, he built the entire company with his bare hands.
Well, his and those of his wife as well. Well, most of us might shudder at the thought of working three jobs as a coffee shop assistant, gas station attendant and janitor, Do Won Chang took this challenge head on. A religious savor, Chang managed to rake up a sizeable amount of money from his savings to open the first ever Forever 21 store in 1984.
Being a pioneer of the latest fashion trends, the new store received a warm reception from customers and the store recorded seven hundred thousand dollars in sales within the first six months. Chang didn’t waste any time, he opened a second one. They say behind every successful man is a stern woman. Indeed, one of the main reasons behind the Forever 21’s success in the fashion industry is Mrs. Chang, who was the mastermind behind the new merchandise designs.
While Chang executed the marketing and retailing affairs. With age slowly rearing its ugly head, Do Won Chang has opted to pass the business to his 2 well educated daughters, the new faces of the brand. Currently, Forever 21 has over 700 stores around the world, and it rakes in a whopping 4.4 billion dollars every year.
So it’s no surprise that Chang’s networth, together with that of his wife and business partner, clocks in at an impressive 1.6 billion dollars. Whoever said the American dream is dead clearly underestimated the power of the Chiangs.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, $400 million.
When you come to America with less than $20 in your pocket, life might seem dark and desolate, but not for the muscle behemoth that was Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had his mind set on one thing, making a name for himself in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yes, Arnold might be dining on the finest caviar as we speak, but there was a time that electricity, running water and even a basic phone was a luxury for the teenager living in war torn Austria.
The only thing that kept him going was his undying love for physical fitness. Arnold was obsessed with the gym to the point his father tried so hard as he could to limit his visits. How did the young Schwarzenegger respond? By building a gym in his own backyard. While serving his mandatory year in the Austrian army, Arnold clang to his one true love, physical fitness.
He pushed himself twice as hard by occasionally sneaking away from his military post and competing in local bodybuilding competitions. Eventually, his persistence paid off, and Arnold clinched the Mr. Europe bodybuilding competition. He gained worldwide attention and went on to win five Mr. universe titles and clinched the Mr. Olympia title an impressive seven times.
But Arnold was more than just a hapless gym junkie. While sculpting his Adonis like physique, he also broadened his perspective by attending the University of Wisconsin Superior, completing a degree in economics and business. Using the business acumen he learned while at school, he invested his prize money into buying gym equipment, exercise supplements and investing in real estate.
So it’s no surprise that Arnold was a millionaire by the age of 22. Ambitious by nature, Arnold set his sights further. He made a name for himself in the realms of Hollywood by playing the lead role in high octane blockbusters such as The Terminator and Conan. Over the years, the controversial, or be it, charismatic Schwarzenegger has achieved tremendous feats in his life.
Going as far as becoming the governor of California as well. From humble beginnings in the war torn streets of Austria to a whopping net worth of 400 million dollars. Arnold is an inspiration to many. That ambition will get you exactly where you want to be in life, even if you’re born on the other side of the world.
Oprah Winfrey, 3 billion dollars.
Can you imagine at one time the flamboyant cheek and elegant Oprah had to make do with potato sacks as her only means of clothing? That’s how poor her family was. Yes, Oprah didn’t always tour the world in her own private jet or purchase the luxurious amenities her ridiculous wealth now offers her. As one of the few women in Forbes 400 richest people in America, fortunes have truly changed for her.
For one, she had one of the most scarring and tumultuous childhood stories you can imagine. As one of the only women in Forbes 400 richest people in America, you could say her fortunes have truly changed for the better. Under the stern discipline of her father, she excelled tremendously in both academic and social setups.
She was voted the most popular girl in school, and this is where she nurtured her passion for media. By the time she was a senior in high school, Oprah had secured herself a full ride scholarship for college. However, she chose to forego college and pursue her career in media when she was just 19 years old. Fortunately for her, her crazy gamble paid off.
By age 20, she became the pioneering first black female news anchor in Nashville. She got a second job in Baltimore, but things didn’t quite work out. According to Oprah, she was harassed and humiliated before getting axed by the news station seven and a half months later. Winfrey did not stay jobless for long, and she managed to land herself a gig hosting the morning talk show, AM Chicago.
This is where her life would change forever. In only a few months, Oprah transformed one of the lowest rated talk shows to literally the talk of the town. By the third year of being the host, the show would be known as the legendary Oprah Winfrey Show. During it’s peak, the Oprah Winfrey Show was raking in an impressive three hundred million dollars a year.
So it’s no surprise that Oprah can now afford extravagances such as owning her own custom made 42 million dollar XRX private jet.
Roman Abramovich, 12.4 billion dollars.
Roman Abramovich is the proud owner of one of the biggest English soccer clubs, Chelsea. Born in 1966, he was orphaned before his fourth birthday and had to live under the care of close relatives and uncles. Despite having a harsh life, Abramovich did not turn to education as his means of escaping poverty. In fact, he performed poorly in college and dropped out twice.
One thing Roman did have an eye for was business. He opened his first business venture by selling plastic ducks from the window of his cramped apartment while living in Moscow. Little did he know that in a few years time he would be the name and face behind several oil conglomerates and own a myriad of pig farms throughout Russia.
He dabbled in politics and gained favor with then Russian President, Yeltsin, putting one foot through the corridors of power. On the business side, Abramovitch managed to gain a lucrative investment from his stake in Sibneft, one of Russia’s largest oil companies, amassing him a staggering 1.8 billion dollars. When Putin rose to power and became the prime minister of Russia in 1999, Roman went full gear into politics and ran for governor of Far Eastern Chokotka, garnering 92 percent of the vote.
After recursing vast amounts of wealth and oil conglomerates, Abramovich expanded his wealth into the sports sector, raising his net worth to an impressive 12.4 billion dollars. He also invested in real estate in different parts of the world, including New York, France and London. Oh, and how does this Russian oligarch tour the skies, you might ask?
Well, in his own private Boeing 767, not bad for a young lad who started out as an orphan in Soviet Russia. So in your darkest financial hour, remember that these rags to riches stories are meant to inspire you to push on in life. No matter where you are at the moment, the right ambition and drive can transform your life into one of wealth, luxury and splendor.