One of the biggest problems with capitalism is that wealth accumulation seems to be easiest for those at the top of the tree, who already have comically large piles of cash hidden under their mattresses to begin with. This is a particularly pertinent point in the world of celebrity, where anybody with a famous face and an ounce of business sense seems to be cultivating very healthy secondary income streams. The bigger your name and bank balance, the easier it seems to be to start a business that can generate millions.
While many of the great and good have high-profile businesses that are never out of the showbiz and money pages – Kanye has his “luxury” (expensive) trainers and Dr. Dre is more famous for fronting Beats than for dropping them nowadays – there are many celebs that turn a tidy profit without necessarily remaining in the public’s consciousness. Many of these famous folk have been running their business for so long that we forgot what made them famous in the first place, while others have been quietly raking in the dollars and cents while going about their day jobs.
While it is easy to writhe in envy and bemoan that the 10 people on this list don’t really need another money-making avenue, it is hard to begrudge them their success. From farming avocados to becoming lifestyle gurus and renovating houses, it’s fair to say that they have at least worked hard to make their secondary careers a success. Well, almost all of them – feel free to gnash your teeth in jealousy at the bloke who was literally given a diamond mine for a knockdown price.
10. Tom Selleck
For a while, it seemed that Tom Selleck was just another 80s actor to fall victim to the curse of Steve Guttenburg, where anybody who worked with the hapless ‘actor’ suddenly found their careers in tatters. Whereas Selleck’s cheeky grin could once be spied nestling under the most famous mustache in Hollywood, illuminating the covers of magazines the world over, he has more or less disappeared from the screen in recent years.
Fear not, Magnum hasn’t been sulking in his mansion, combing his tach and dreaming of better days; he’s been busy selling avocados. Selleck owns a 63 acre farm in California, where he grows, picks and sells the little green fruits. Not only are avocados one of the most nutrient-packed foods in the world, they generate plenty of the other kind of green: Selleck makes enough cash from farming them that he doesn’t miss the Hollywood treadmill at all. He is far from the only celeb making money from avocados – Jamie Foxx has also dabbled in the farming industry.
Think about something you really, really like; avocados if you’re Tom Selleck, maybe comedy tea-towels if you’re into that sort of malarkey. Now, just imagine you’re talking about your favorite tea-towel puns with a random stranger and he offers you a tea-towel factory at a knock-down price. This is exactly what happened to Akon, only in his case it was diamonds because he’s a rapper.
Akon was discussing his love of the shiny coal by-products with a man whose father just happened to own a diamond mine and was desperate to get rid of it. The mine “just fell into my lap”, said the Smack That singer, presumably while wearing diamond-encrusted trousers. While the diamond industry has long since been dogged by controversy, exploitation and bloody massacres, Akon maintains that his venture is entirely innocent; this viewpoint is fashioned by owning a diamond mine and making enough money from it that he can afford to plug his ears with $100 bills whenever anybody questions him on the morality of his business.
8. Gwyneth Paltrow
Long before she became a punchline for witless internet commentators, Gwyneth Paltrow was more than just the world’s most famous macrobiotic dieter. She also happened to be a mighty fine actress, an Oscar winner no less, and was probably more famous and successful than her then boyfriend Brad Pitt (when she dated him in the nineties). Paltrow’s acting career took a back seat while she brought up a young family, but this doesn’t mean that she’s been a stranger to hard work in the past few years.
Gwyneth has become something of a lifestyle guru recently and has been developing several projects that could see her become the Martha Stewart of the Instagram generation. Her lifestyle website, Goop has a subscription list of 150,00 and is constantly growing. Paltrow has also released a cookbook, My Father’s Daughter which immediately topped the New York Times’ best-sellers list. As part of an alleged ten-year plan, her move into lifestyle and culture has already earned her a million dollars – the sky would appear to be the limit.
7. Jeremy Renner
For fans of the recent Avengers movies, Hawkeye always seemed to be the most superfluous character; Bruce Banner turned into an unstoppable, green monster, Iron Man had the greatest suit, Thor was a freaking god…Hawkeye was just a decent shot with a bow and arrow. Don’t feel too sorry for Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner, though – he has his very own super-power. He’s the Batman of the house-flipping industry.
For those who don’t know, house-flipping involves buying a property at a knock-down price and either waiting until the market explodes and selling for a vast profit, or renovating the place until the value has increased dramatically. Either way, the end result involves huge amounts of cash. Renner has amassed a large portfolio of properties and his well-numerated acting career has given him the resources to become one of the most successful house-flippers out there.
6. Justin Timberlake
If you asked a random bunch of strangers what the name ‘Justin Timberlake‘ meant to them, the chances are that you’d get replies along the lines of actor, musician, rubbish, sex goblin and “I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry today”. Nobody would immediately think of Timberlake as one of USA’s most successful young entrepreneurs – but that’s exactly what he is.
JT founded the William Rast fashion brand with a friend 10 years ago; aiming to celebrate American denim and biker culture, the brand was estimated by Forbes to generate a turnover of $50 million a year. He also owns an NYC barbecue restaurant, a tequila brand, a golf course and a record label. Timberlake has also threatened to bring MySpace back into public consciousness, acting as part of a consortium who recently purchased the archaic site for $35 million.
5. Bono & The Edge
U2 have sold hundreds of millions of records in their time, a career which has been a phenomenal success. However, in-between recording stadium rock, flying around the world in a private jet to scold working-class people into giving more to charity and saving Africa, Bono and The Edge have been investigating the leaky faucet in room 237.
The Dublinese troubadours have been moonlighting as successful hoteliers since 1992, when they purchased the struggling, two-star The Clarence hotel on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin. They pumped money into the premier boutique hotel and turned it into a five-star accommodation which regularly turns eye-watering levels of profit. The duo have been known to play impromptu ‘greatest hits’ sets atop the hotel roof, but despite this, the hotel remains a popular resort in the Irish Republic’s capital city.
4. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani seems to have something of a midas touch. She sold millions of records as part of No Doubt, and released one of the best pop singles of the ’00’s during her solo career in What You Waiting’ For? – it seemed that she could do no wrong. Though her music career has stagnated recently, her business interests have flourished to compensate.
Stefani launched a fashion line called L.A.M.B. in 2004, which has proven to be a flabbergasting success story. The range has been rolled out to stores worldwide and celebrity endorsements have helped Stefani to generate a profit margin that was estimated in 2007 to be as much as $90 million per year. She has also worked as a designer with Target to launch a range of kids clothing, called Harajuku Mini.
3. George Foreman
Most sentient beings in the world will have heard of George Foreman – it may just depend upon your age as to what context his name is attributed. For anybody over 30, he is one of the greatest sportsman who has ever lived; Millenials and those yet to hit 30 may just see him as the face of a global grill company.
Foreman was one of the most popular Heavyweight Champions of the boxing world before his retirement in 1997. His career had spanned 3 decades and included not only the legendary 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ with Muhammed Ali, but also a late-career comeback which saw him become the oldest ever Heavyweight Champion at the age of 45. After his retirement, Foreman began a lucrative second career as an entrepreneur, famously lending his name to the George Foreman Grill. The cooking appliance has sold over 100 million units to date and earned the canny Foreman another $138 million in 1999, when he auctioned off the naming rights.
2. Paul Newman
Paul Newman is a unique entry on this list; not only is he the only featured celebrity who is no longer with us, but he is the only one whose secondary career didn’t benefit him personally – he gave all the proceeds away to charity. Newman is most famous for his searing blue eyes and his ice-cool performances in films such as The Hustler and Cool Hand Luke. In his entrepreneurial career, Newman found better uses for eggs than to hard boil and eat fifty of them – his range of foods included an iconic salad cream.
The Newman’s Own range was co-founded in 1982 by Newman, with an eye to giving away 100% of the profits that it made to educational, charitable and religious organisations. The company began with the commercialization of the homemade salad dressing that Newman concocted in his own kitchen. By New Year’s Eve 2014, the Newman’s Own company had made a total of $429 million after tax, all of which was donated to selected causes.
1. Donald Trump
Whether it’s insulting Mexicans, demonizing immigrants, berating war heroes or firing a C-list celebrity on a game show, Donald J. Trump certainly manages to keep himself busy. While the thought of him becoming successful in his bid to become the next President of the USA is probably terrifying anybody and everybody, you have to give Trump credit for his ability to earn obscene amounts of money. While he has earned the vast majority of his $4 billion fortune from real estate, he has many lucrative side ventures that turn over millions in profit, as well.
Trump has earned multiple wheelbarrows of cash through his role on The Apprentice, as well as speaking engagements, a host of autobiographies and self-help books, Miss USA pageants and a range of menswear at Macy’s. If he does win the 2016 presidential election, one can only hope that he is too busy counting his cash to venture too near to any large, red buttons.