Celebrity CEOs

By Mark Riddix | March 26, 2010 AAA
Celebrity CEOs

Celebrities are often praised for their acting or singing talents while their business acumen off-screen goes largely unnoticed. When a celeb makes a box office dud, has a television show that flops or their business venture fails, it's the front page news. But what about the celebs who have made millions due to their business savvy? There are a number of stars in the entertainment world that have found success in the business world as well. Here are a few of the most successful celebrity businessmen and women.

In Pictures: 7 Millionaires By Marriage

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter
While Jay-Z may have become a millionaire from his record sales, the rap mogul has increased his fortune through his business ventures. The platinum selling rapper is not just an artist but a keen businessman as well. His past business ventures have included being CEO of Def Jam Records, founding the Rocawear clothing line and starting a real estate development company named J Hotels. He sold his interest in Rocawear clothing to Iconix Brand Group in 2007 for a cool $204 million dollars according to the New York Times.

Jay-Z currently owns a stake in the 40/40 club and a minority ownership interest in the New Jersey Nets and the Aqueduct Entertainment Group. As if that wasn't enough, Jay-Z is employed as the co-brand director for Budweiser Select helping the beer manufacturer develop ads. Forbes estimates the rap mogul's raked in $35 million in 2009.

Oprah Winfrey
Forbes magazine values the fortune of "the queen of daytime talk" at $2.4 billion dollars. Oprah's name is synonymous with success. She is a self-made woman who has managed to turn herself into a cultural icon. She created the "Oprah Winfrey Show," O Magazine, and the Oprah Winfrey Network. Oprah has her own production company known as Harpo Productions which develops motion pictures, television programs and radio programming. She has launched the careers of Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. Oprah's Midas touch turns every product that she recommends into an overnight sensation, every book becomes a bestseller and every product a must have. (Learn more about Oprah and other rags-to-riches celebrity stories in From Poverty To Power: Celebrities Who Started With Nothing.)

David Letterman
Dave makes $32 million a year for the "Late Show with David Letterman." Not bad for one hour a night! But that's not all. Dave is raking in the dough from his production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. Worldwide Pants produces everything from talk shows to comedy to animation. Dave's production company has developed hits like "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Ed," and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson." TV Guide estimates that "Everybody Loves Raymond" could generate $1 billion dollars in syndication fees. While there is no official total for Letterman's net worth, estimates have him in the hundreds of millions.

Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is not only a Hall of Fame basketball player but a Hall of Fame businessman as well. Magic's business interests range from restaurants to retail. The website for Magic Johnson Enterprises lists Johnson's holdings as Burger King franchises, TGI Friday's, Starbucks, movie theaters, fitness centers, travel agencies and a real estate development firm. But wait there's more! Johnson has partnership agreements with Rent-A-Center and Jackson Hewitt. He also has a minority ownership interest in the Los Angeles Lakers. Magic's business ventures have kept him quite busy since his playing career ended.

Clint Eastwood
In addition to being a highly acclaimed actor, Eastwood has plenty of off-screen projects to keep him busy. So, what makes "Dirty Harry's" day? Eastwood is an active real estate developer and producer. Eastwood owns the Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He is a partner in the Pebble Beach Company which owns resorts, golf links and the world renowned Pebble Beach golf course. Eastwood has produced numerous films through his production company, Malpaso Productions, including the hits "Unforgiven," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Gran Torino." (To find out how you can make money from show business, read Analyzing Show Biz Stocks and Make Money On The Movies.)

Jennifer Lopez
J-Lo s truly a triple threat - making millions in movies, music and fashion. Lopez has been known to command $15 million per movie and had a net worth over $110 million dollars as of 2008. Lopez has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and continues to attract large audiences to her performances. She was one of the first celebrities to launch her own clothing line. Her fashion line sells clothing, perfume and jewelry. (For more on show biz finance, read Betting On The Entertainment Industry.)

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is a best-selling hip hop artist and entrepreneur. Diversification is the name of the game for Jackson. He started his own music label known as G-Unit Records. Jackson followed up on this success with his own G-Unit clothing line. He reaps profits from records, film, video game sales and real estate holdings. Jackson had the foresight to invest in Vitamin Water during its early stages. When Glaceau sold Vitamin Water to Coca Cola for $4.1 billion, Jackson reportedly made a profit of $100 million dollars. It's clear that Curtis Jackson got rich and didn't "die trying."

Bottom Line
Today many celebrities are proving that they have the right stuff to succeed in business. They are building global brand names and developing entrepreneurial enterprises that are making them major players in the business arena. It looks like celebrity CEOs are here to stay.

Catch up on what's making news this week. Check out Water Cooler Finance: Bailouts, Buffett-Rock And Prison Brawls.

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