Some of the very richest celebrity reality stars, without a doubt, appear on the ABC’S Shark Tank. Following a familiar set-up, Shark Tank takes five wealthy investors and lets entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to them, at which point the Sharks battle each other to invest in their new products, inventions and businesses. While many of these entrepreneurs leave the show with an incredible deal and a Shark to help them get their business started, some will inevitably leave with their tail between their legs after the Sharks tear them and their idea apart. Yes, it’s the stuff great reality TV shows are made of.
The investors range in wealth, but all hold significant bank accounts. For the most part, each Shark had a humble beginning and amassed their fortunes through nothing more than good old fashioned hard work. The Sharks’ combined net worth is well into the billions; as they’re continually investing in ideas on and off the show their worth is increasing.
The show continues to receive high acclaim as one of the best business-themed reality TV shows to grace the small screen. In 2012, the show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program as well as being nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series. Then in 2013, the TV show was nominated for a Producers Guild Award. Indeed, if you don’t know too much about how billionaire tycoons make business deals it can be quite a learning experience; a peek into the tough, cutting, and quick-witted world. Though these Sharks are ultimately out for their own good, they do consistently make many peoples’ dreams come true. Here are 6 sharks, ranked by their wealth, with the stories of how they made their money in the first place. Next time you watch the show, remember these self-made millionaires were once as vulnerable as the people in front of the panel.
6. Lori Greiner $15 million
Each Shark has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to business, and Lori Greiner (a.k.a. The QVC Queen for her well-known personality on QVC TV) is the master of taking an idea and turning it into a sellable, successful product. Many entrepreneur hopefuls on the show and have a particular Shark in mind to work with, prior to pitching their ideas. Greiner is regularly highly sought after, especially when someone is seeking a patent – as Greiner is known as a patent expert. Not only does she have a soft touch, and tends to be less harsh with her words, but she knows how to develop a product.
In the past few years Greiner’s net worth has skyrocketed, and there seems to be a direct correlation with the show. All her investments have most definitely helped in this regard. Her net worth, in fact, almost doubled over the last year.
Scrub Daddy Scrubber has become one of Greiner’s most successful investments on the Shark Tank thus far. In the past year, this little scrubber has sold over $13 million worth. Greiner’s other products cover a large range, from travel bags, to accessories, to kitchen tools.
While today Greiner holds 120 U.S. and international patents, has created 400 products, and is regarded as a prolific inventor of retail products, she started much smaller. Greiner started with only one idea and she ended up turning it into a multi-million dollar brand. Her success can be attributed to her sharp, strong instincts and her savvy business sense. At the core, however, nothing can replace Greiner’s talent, hard work and sincerity, which are the backbone attributes of her success.
5. Barbara Corcoran $40 million
Barbara Corcoran is that she has a huge heart. More than any Shark on the show Corcoran has been known to invest in someone simply because she likes them. Granted their idea can’t be a total bomb – Corcoran wouldn’t be where she is today if she was that careless, but she definitely seems to be the softy of the group.
Corcoran is a definitive self-starter; she had 20 different jobs by the time she was 23-years-old. She wasn’t a strong student, landing straight Ds throughout highschool and college.
It was a mere $1,000 loan from her boyfriend that would turn her life upside down. Corcoran was working as a waitress in New York City, and got the idea to start a little real estate company. Over the next 25 years Corcoran parlayed that $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar business. This could explain where her soft side comes from. When struggling entrepreneurs walk into the room, looking for a little loan to kickstart their own dreams, it’s possible Corcoran sees herself in them.
Corcoran has branched out into the literary world and has published a few of the lessons she’s learned in the form of a book entitled If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails. Some of the advice she dishes in the book includes telling her readers not to underestimate the power of their own instincts. The book has became an unlikely national best-seller. It seems this little lady can just do no wrong. Whatever she touches….that’s right, it turns to gold.
4. Robert Herjavec $100 million
The one truly likable thing about all the Sharks is their “rags to riches” stories, and Robert Herjavec has one of the best. He is a son of Croatian immigrants, and his wealth was earned by overcoming great odds, by relying on hard work and by paying attention to his instincts – which have proven to be pretty reliable. His mother, who could barely speak English, lost the family’s entire life savings to a smooth-talking vacuum salesman. It was from this moment on that Herjavec vowed to never allow anyone to take advantage of his family again.
Herjavec barley carved out a living for himself in the early 90’s as a waiter, but when the dot com era emerged he jumped right on that train, first with IBM and then creating BRAK systems. He earned serious money, but its his tenacity that is the most admirable really. As the dot com boom has gone through its ups and downs Herjavec has continued to add the zeros to his worth.
Herjavec seems like a genuine guy on reality TV show; his sweet manner doubtless helped him out in more than a few business transactions.
3. Daymond John $250 million
Daymond John is suave, cool and collected. When he appears on the show he is always dressed to the nines, and he knows how to play hard ball.
It was John’s creative vision that, in the 90’s, revolutionized the sportswear industry. He is president, chief executive, as well as founder of FUBU — “For Us, By Us.” This brand is both fashionable and distinctive. FUBU’s success opened the eyes of other apparel companies who hadn’t realized the potential for fashionable sportswear.
Daymond’s “rags to riches” story begins in New York City, where he was born. He was an only child, and was raised by a single parent – his mother – who was a flight attendant, but she often held down more than one job. John’s first inclination towards apparel was when he wanted a tie-top hat, but found that it was out of his price range. It was then that he asked his mother to teach him to use the sewing machine. He started to make tie-top hats and sold them on the streets in Queens – where he was living at the time. Since then, John has never given up. On his road to success he was denied a bank loan 27 times. It seems that if there’s one thing these Sharks have in common it’s their great tenacity, their ability to endure and their desire and passion to keep on rising.
2. Kevin O’Leary $300 million
Kevin O’Leary is the sharkiest of the Sharks. He comes across as opinionated and ruthless. From the pattern of investing he does on the show, this guy seems to hunger for the big deals, and when one comes along he likes to take control. But O’Leary does have a soft side, and actually made his fortune helping children learn how to read. So, while his personality is a little strong, he’s certainly doing something right.
It’s almost hard to imagine this guy starting out with nothing, but just like all the other Sharks he’s a self-made millionaire, so he too started out with a just a big idea but no cash. SoftKey Software Products was launched in his basement and when sales took off from this, O’Leary went on an acquisition binge, and bought out almost every competitor. This proved to be somewhat of a hostile battle, but that’s O’Leary’s style: vicious and fueled by the desire for success.
1. Mark Cuban $2.4 billion
Mark Cuban: our biggest, richest Shark. He once sold garbage bags from door-to-door when he was 12-years-old, an entrepreneur from the start.
Today, his investments are in startups like JungleCents.com, Mahalo, motionloft.com, Naked Pizza, Filesanywhere.com, and 140Fire.com. In the past he founded Broadcast.com, HDNet, and MicroSolutions.
In 2006, Cuban was listed in the “Men of the Year” issue of GQ, and has been widely regarded as one of the most influential people in both the sports and cable industries. His purchase on the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 made his name ring a little louder in the public’s ears, however.
Cuban’s fortune was mainly amassed with the transaction of selling Broadcast to Yahoo, which he did for $5.9 billion – and right before the dot com bubble burst, too. Since then he has made some wise business decisions and savvy investments, and continues to champion the sport of basketball.