As obsessed as society is with celebrities, the public also likes to mock famous people. Fans idolize celebs for being filthy rich and walking the red carpet at events. However, these same “fans” will turn on celebrities in an instant, when a star makes a “mistake” like dating the wrong person or choosing an unflattering hairstyle. Of course, there are also times when celebrities don’t make the wisest choices with their money, and the public tends to have a lot to say about that, as well.
However, there are also celebrities who have a pretty great business sense. These are often not the stars you’d expect to have great marketing or promotion acumen, but they’ve got innovative ideas. Most people don’t think that celebs who are known for being goofy (or for the goofy roles they play) know much about money or investments. After all, today’s actors and musicians are realizing that acting roles and best-selling albums may be a thing of the past one day. That’s why it’s important to have other streams of income that will stand the test of time, after a star’s fans are no longer interested.
Whether these stars are partnering with other lucrative companies to generate income or are exploring the idea of being business owners themselves, there’s no denying that these celebrities are making the right money moves. Here are 12 goofy celebrities who are actually business geniuses.
12. Sammy Hagar
Sammy Hagar is best known as the frontman for the legendary band Van Halen. These days, however, he’s making millions of dollars from his Cabo Wabo company. The company owns resorts, restaurants, bars and a very lucrative liquor company. Hagar is the perfect example of turning partying like a rock star into a thriving business. His brand of tequila, also called Cabo Wabo, is the second best selling tequila in the U.S. and his Cabo Wabo Enterprise has earned around $60 million each year in revenue since 2007. In an interview with Forbes, Hagar stated, “I don’t endorse. I own.” Clearly this business choice has been working out for him quite well. Sammy Hagar sold 80 percent of Cabo Wabo to Gruppo Campari Spirits for $100 million, in 2007, so they could take the brand around the world.
11. Will Ferrell
Actor and overall hilarious guy Will Ferrell, is doing quite well with his online channel, Funny or Die. Ferrell created Funny or Die with blogger Adam Mckay. The first video alone got 70 million views, and around 1.4 million people follow Funny or Die via Twitter. HBO recently purchased a share of the website for $10 million, which further proves that Will Ferrell knows how to make comedy sell. The site has also helped to launch the careers of many young comedians, and has helped to keep budding comedic actors like Aziz Ansari in the spotlight. An investor in Funny or Die, Mark Kvamme, stated in 2010 that the site is already making “tens of millions in revenue.”
10. Robert DeNiro
Legendary actor Robert DeNiro, is known for many things, and one of them is staying true to his roots. He still lives in Greenwich Village after all these years, and is literally investing in his neighborhood. DeNiro is the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. According to the Daily Mail, DeNiro made this investment in response to the 9/11 tragedy. Of course, the film festival is one of the most popular in the world. The talented actor also co-founded Nobu. The Japanese restaurant is a favorite with celebrities, and paparazzi spend a lot of time at the doors, snapping photos of stars who come in and out of the eatery. Since both of these financial ventures are wildly popular, we don’t think DeNiro will be hurting for cash anytime soon.
9. Gwen Stefani
In 2005, singer Gwen Stefani stepped into the design world when her L.A.M.B. clothing line graced the runways at New York Fashion Week. These days, Stefani’s fashion line makes her about $90 million every year, according to LeFashionLab and MSNBC. After seeing the success of L.A.M.B., the No Doubt frontwoman launched Harajuku Fashion Lovers, an edgier fashion line that celebrates the colors and designs worn by Harajuku girls in Japan. Stefani has definitely found another creative talent in designing clothes, and celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Paris Hilton, even like to wear pieces from her line. In addition to singing and being a judge on The Voice, Gwen Stefani definitely knows how to be smart with her money.
8. Ashton Kutcher
Actor and former model, Ashton Kutcher has a media production company named Katalyst Media, which he founded in 2000. The production company is responsible for the popular prank show Punk’d, as well as True Beauty and Beauty and The Geek. Katalyst Media is also behind the movies, The Butterfly Effect and Guess Who. Recently, Hollywood Reporter revealed that Kutcher’s company signed a two-year development deal with Warner Horizon Television. The company also started a partnership with Kellogg to donate to organizations that end hunger. Kellogg recently donated $10 million, and Katalyst Media used the power of their social network to help improve Kellogg’s image and to get the word out about ending hunger.
7. Carrot Top
Most people simply know Carrot Top for his curly red coif and passion for prop comedy. But he’s far from silly when it comes to finances. Carrot Top has been a headlining performer at the Luxor in Vegas for the past decade or so, but he’s made $75 million doing it, which isn’t bad at all for a professional comedian. He charges $50 per ticket for the cheap seats, so we can only imagine what the “good” seats are selling for. Since 1987, Carrot Top has done his act for more than 3 million people, so while people have been making fun of him, he’s turned his corny comedy into a lucrative empire.
Shawn Carter, who goes by the name of Jay-Z, has spent well over two decades developing his empire. Many rappers are satisfied with a lucrative music career, but Carter has branched out to become a successful businessman. He has a net worth of around $520 million and his music sales have a lot to do with that. However, his record label Roc Nation, and his clothing line Rocawear, have a lot to do with his financial success as well. In 2007, Jay-Z sold Rocawear for $204 million and started a partnership with Live Nation worth $150 million. It’s professional power moves like these that are likely to make Jay-Z rich for the rest of his life.
5. Paris Hilton
Hotel heiress Paris Hilton, technically didn’t have to find ways to make money until her grandfather gave the family fortune to charity. After all, her last name is Hilton. However, the fact that she’s found a way to build a successful empire is impressive to many of her fans (and even to some of the people who don’t care for her very much). She was left with $5 million of the family fortune, and has used that as seed money for fragrance and accessory lines. However, during the time when it seemed that every magazine cover and blog was obsessed with Hilton and people were annoyed with her, she was actually selling herself as a brand. Just goes to show that when Hollywood wants to see more of you in any capacity, you can make money.
4. Adam Sandler
For the past 10 years or so, Adam Sandler has been allowed to make some lackluster movies. Sure, there have been some cute ones, too, but many of Sandler’s movies leave us wondering, “why?” There’s even a theory that he uses filming time to take vacations with his friends (who are sometimes his co-stars). While his acting often leaves a lot to be desired, Sandler is a comedic force and he’s been around for a long time. That’s why Sony keeps making movies that star the comedian. Most of Sandler’s movies have a budget of around $80 million, but end up making between $150 million and $250 million. When you can basically get paid millions to be yourself, you’re the smartest businessman of them all.
3. The Olsen Twins
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will always be known as the adorable twins who shared the role of Michelle Tanner on the sitcom, Full House. When the twins were six, Dualstar Entertainment Group was formed. The company was established to help the girls maintain a lucrative career after Full House ended. Under Dualstar, Ashley and Mary-Kate made a series of straight-to-video movies and Olsen merchandise that kids and tweens loved. When they became adults, they took ownership of Dualstar and launched The Row, their clothing label. The girls have launched a few more fashion lines since the success of The Row, and as of 2012, their business ventures are worth around $1 billion.
2. 50 Cent
Rapper 50 Cent isn’t always known for being the most intelligent guy. Maybe that’s because people assume that because he’s a rapper, he probably couldn’t hold a thought-provoking conversation. However, 50, who is a former drug dealer, has pretty shrewd business sense, even though he made movies like Escape Plan and Get Rich or Die Tryin’.The rapper also owns several companies that sell everything from headphones to energy drinks to underwear. He’s even got NASCAR sponsorships due to the products sold by some of his companies. One of 50 Cent’s (whose real name is Curtis Jackson) best investments was Vitamin Water, which he sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion.
1. Donald Trump
Yes, Donald Trump comes off as an insensitive and grossly uninformed jerk, but part of his reasoning behind his terrible behavior is that it makes him money. Also, Trump doesn’t have a huge share in the Trump brand anymore. He stepped down as board chairman when the housing bubble burst and only owns 10 percent of the company now. So, Trump has had to figure out a way to make money, and it seems that the more ridiculous he sounds, the more people pay attention to him. He’s boosted NBC’s ratings so much that the network gave him a $65 million raise after the presidential debate. The same network that dropped him for calling immigrants stupid criminals is willing to pay him to keep their viewership. Business at its finest.