There are a lot more millionaires out there than you might think. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there are millions of millionaires. There are an estimated 8.4 million American households with $1 million or more in assets, in excess of their primary residences, according to research from the Chicago-based consulting firm, Spectrem Group. Based on the current U.S. population in April 2011, millionaires make up about 2.7% of the entire country. And in that elite millionaires club, there are some names that might surprise you.
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Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino
Mike Sorrentino - better known by his household name "The Situation" - catapulted to reality stardom as the muscle-flashing cast member of MTV's "Jersey Shore." But according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, Sorrentino could have raked in as much as $5 million in 2010. In addition to the $60,000 he earns for each episode of the reality hit, Sorrentino also receives $15,000 to $50,000 for public appearances, an unknown amount of money for endorsing products, such as Vitamin Water and Reebok, and has already reeled in six-figures on the advance of his autobiography, "Here's the Situation."
Steve Williams, Tiger Wood's Caddy
You would likely recognize the face - if not the name - of Steve Williams, who since 1999 has been the regular caddy of Tiger Woods. According to the Professional Caddies Association (PCA), professional caddies of high-performing golfers earn a greater stake of the returns. On top of a base salary around $1,000 per week, top-notch caddies make 5% of the tournament purse, 7% of a top 10 and 10% for a victory. In 2006, the year when Woods won both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, Williams brought home $1.27 million.
William Hung, Former American Idol Contestant
After off-pitch audition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" on American Idol in 2004, William Hung was cut, but found instant success with a cult following of fans and a flurry of media attention. For the college music dropout, this led to a music contract and the release of his first album, "Inspiration," that sold over 240,000 copies. From these sales, Hung has admitted to being a millionaire, but has since released another two albums without much traction.
Rebecca Black, Viral Video Star
Rebecca Black, a 13-year-old pop singer from Anaheim Hills, California, was mocked for her music video "Friday" which was uploaded onto YouTube after her mom paid $2,000 for a production company to produce it in 2011. But withstanding the ridicule has paid off. Since the video was released onto the web, it's been downloaded on iTunes over 2 million times and a payout rate of 70 cents per song has earned black at least $1.4 million. Black also stands to profit from receiving a percentage of the ad revenue - along with the production company, Ark Music Factory - from YouTube.
The Bottom Line
The number of millionaires in the U.S. has dropped approximately 9% since 2007 and still, some unlikely individuals have managed to break into the upper echelon of moneymakers. With the rise of the Internet and mass media, it seems you don't have to be brilliant or talented or exceptional, you just have to catch on. (To help you make millions, check out 6 Simple Steps To $1 Million.)