Oprah Winfrey – Net Worth, Money and More
Net Worth: $2.9 Billion
Profession: Talk show host, Media proprietor, Actress
From Rags to Riches:
Oprah Winfrey, the richest African-American of the 20th century, is a proud owner of a multifaceted personality. She was born on was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She is not only a very popular television personality, but also involved in writing, production, philanthropy and acting. But the journey to the good times was not as easy as it seems. She was born in a poor family and faced many hardships including child abuse. But she stayed strong and rose to become one of the most influential women on the planet as well as the richest self mad woman in America.
She was a very dedicated scholar, excellent at studies and got admission in Tennessee State University on scholarship. She began working at an early age and her career in media began when she was hired by a local radio station to read news. She then moved to television with the Oprah Winfrey Show in the year 1984 and the show quickly rose to number one talk show in Chicago, displacing Phil Donahue. She became a millionaire at the age of 32. And today, she has grown to earn as much as $ 315 million annually and is the only African-American among the 400 wealthiest people in the country.
Oprah’s Promised Land:
Oprah is a self-made mogul and owns a giant 23, 000 square foot home she calls the ‘Promise Land’. She purchased this estate in 2001 for $50 million. When she bought the house, renovations were underway and so she altered the plans to ensure they matched her lifestyle. The estate has got a picturesque view of mountain and ocean. She fist eyed this piece of property when she was in a photo shoot at a nearby location. It is where she currently resides and the Promise Land houses 14 bathrooms and 10 exquisite fireplaces.
She also owns a beautiful apartment in Chicago, an estate in Florida, a big house in New Jersey, a ski house in Colorado and also houses at Douglasville, Georgia and land on Maui, Hawaii and Antigua.
An Expert Interviewer:
In 1993, Oprah hosted an interview with Michael Jackson which came to be the fourth most watched event in American television history and also the most watched interview ever, with 36.5 million people watching the interview. On December 1, 2005 Winfrey was seen on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote the musical The Color Purple. This Broadway musical was from Oprah’s production house and the promotional show helped Letterman attract his largest audience in 11 years, 13.45 million users. It was hailed as the ‘television event of the decade’.
However, as with all big personalities, she too faced criticism. In September 2008, Winfrey was criticised for refusing to have Sarah Palin on her show as she supported Obama. Winfrey, however, disagreed with this statement and Sarah made it to the show in 2009. Also, in 2009, she was criticised for following actress Suzanne Somers to appear on her show to discuss hormone treatments which are unacceptable to the mainstream medicine. Some critics also believe that she is not tough enough when questioning celebrity guests whom she appears to like.
In 2011, Winfrey launched a new channel of her own called OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. OWN’s recent success has been due to a series of exclusive television interviews with personalities like the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, the party girl Rihanna, the troubled starlet Lindasay Lohan and the out gay NBA player Jason Collins. The original series of the network helped OWN to score its highest rating in a short time.
Though OWN is now generating cash, but it is not the prime source of money for Oprah. The bulk of her money comes from the profitable day time talk show which she has been hosting for 25 years. Also, her Harpo production company, which has a hand in the Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz shows, is significant source of her income. Besides, she also earns from her O Magazine and a network on SiriusXM satellite radio. The money she makes has helped her rise to the top of Forbes’ 2013 list of the Most Powerful Celebrities.
She also generated Oscar buzz for her performance in Lee Daniel’s ‘The Butler’ which made it to the top of US box office following its release in August. She also has a keen interest in real estate investment and has mixed bag of properties in Chicago, New York, Montecito, California etc. For all of this, she earns more than $225 million a year.
Charity and Social Work:
In 1998, Winfrey created the Oprah’s Angel Network, a network that supported charitable projects and provided funds to non-profit organizations around the globe. This network alone raised more than $80, 000, 000 dollars. Oprah herself monitored all the funds and so 100% of all funds raised went to charity. The charity stopped taking donations in 2010 and was dissolved later.
In 2004, she went to South Africa to film an episode of her show called Oprah’s Christmas Kindness. She wanted to bring attention to the plight of children affected by AIDS and poverty. She has supported various educational causes and has spent more than $100 million on the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, a boarding school for poverty stricken girls, in South Africa (2007).