10 Celebrities With Serious Business Smarts

The celebrity lifestyle gives you access to everything you could ever want, including great investment opportunities. While we hear all too often about those in the spotlight who’ve lost fortunes to drugs, Ponzi schemes and all kinds of failed ventures, there are definitely a handful of celebrities out there that still manage to rake in the dough. Some do it by sticking only to what they know they do best, and others take chances and diversify in ways that most people would have never thought they could…and one guy in particular may even go broke once his skills in the ring deteriorate.

Nevertheless, it is in honor of these rich celebrities who are only getting richer that we present to you 11 Celebrities With Business Smarts. Each of these individuals are at the top of the top in their respective industries, and they’ve all capitalized on the opportunities presented to them as a result of their fame and success. Here’s the list.

10. Will Ferrell

Funnyman Will Ferrell has made a killing throughout his career playing all kinds of childish and outlandish characters drenched in college style humor albeit in movies that make us bust a gut laughing. He’s played a 40 something-year-old step-brother and college student, he’s played a redneck NASCAR driver and an absolutely off-the-wall sports announcer whose popularity in San Diego is unmatched, or at least it was unmatched back in the 70s of course. With a laundry list full of ridiculously hilarious roles that will never win an Oscar award, it might come as a surprise to you that Ferrell is serious business when it comes to money.

What shouldn’t surprise you is that his main business venture is still built around comedy. We’re talking about the social media video sharing website Funny Or Die. The website allows users to post their funny content and let the audience decide whether their content is funny or worth snubbing. The first video posted on the website featured Ferrell explaining why he had fallen behind on rent payments to a two-year-old beer drinking and cussing landlord. The video quickly garnered more than 70 million hits, helping the website attract the attention of notable venture capitalists.

Jaguar PS /

9. Calvin Harris

He may not have a long list of traditional investments in the stock market or stakes in private companies that are about to be sold for billions of dollars, but DJ Calvin Harris gets a spot on this list for several reasons. Perhaps the number one reason is that he has successfully used electronic dance music to crossover into the mainstream, creating and working with the pop-culture songs and artists that we all know and love. He’s worked with Rihanna, Katie Perry and others and routinely headlines the biggest EDM festivals in the world.

Most people don’t know this but the music and the culture surrounding what Harris does for a living is actually taking over the Las Vegas strip, a place where comedy shows and more traditional musical performers dominated for decades. These days, all of the hot nightclubs in the region are raking in money thanks to electronic dance music, and its guys like Calvin Harris who are at the forefront of the movement and stand to make the biggest profit. There is no doubt that as the years go by, a guy like Harris is likely to catapult himself into bigger and better business ventures that make him richer and richer by the day.

8. Katy Perry

Although Forbes magazine estimates that Katie Perry only did 20 public concerts last year she continues to make money by the millions thanks to her business ventures. For one thing, she does a lot of private parties that we’re not counting here, which of course come at a premium rate no doubt. Her overall net worth is estimated at around $130 million and when you consider the titans named later on in this list, that’s actually not a lot of money, but at the end of the day her albums will keep selling and her tours will keep selling out.

Perry is known for her eclectic style and fashion, which has led her to create her own line of perfume called Killer Queen. She also has big-time endorsement deals with Cover Girl and Pop Chips. She’s an outgoing personality that’s not afraid to put her name behind some big brands, so although Perry may not be up for doing 100 tour dates a year to try to make $150 million, she’s not exactly about to beg for money anytime soon. One can only imagine how much money she would be worth if she doubled or tripled the number of tour dates on her concert schedule.

Featureflash /

7. Kobe Bryant

When all is said and done, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant will go down as one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. Being mentioned in the same breath as legends like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson obviously has its financial benefits. He’s been one of the highest-paid players in the NBA since we can remember and is currently signed to a two-year deal that will pay him $48.5 million.

Being smart and talented on the basketball court however is not what puts Kobe on this list. What gets him on here is the fact that he has a new company called Kobe Inc., which presumably is going to house a slew of sports related investments. This past year he threw down between $4 and $6 million to buy more than 10% of  sports drink called BodyArmour. It quite clear that he’s starting to think about life after basketball and if he follows in the footsteps of great players who are also great investors such as the aforementioned Magic Johnson, Bryant could find himself buying up Major League Baseball teams and Starbucks locations just like Magic.

Joe Seer /

6. LeBron James

LeBron James currently earns $20.6 million a year as the front man of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the face of the NBA, but of course that’s just what he makes when he’s on the basketball court. Outside of the game, James has endorsement contracts with Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Upper Deck and other companies. His jersey is the league’s best selling item and on top of all that, LeBron cashed in on the sale of Beats headphones and it’s estimated that his small percentage of the company was worth well over $30 million.

There was a time in James’s career when people criticized him for firing his agent and hiring his best friend, but it seems like the business ventures he’s been able to be a part of have paid off handsomely for him and nobody is talking about his previous decisions anymore. He’s a world-class basketball talent and will go down as one of the greatest of all time. When you’re at that level you get access to business ventures that few people could ever dream of laying their hands on. James has no doubt capitalized on his fame and opportunities to grow his fortune and that’s what makes him a smart celebrity investor. It pays to be associated with Dr. Dre’s headphones that’s for sure.

Photo by MediaPunch/REX

5. Beyoncé

In general you hear it all the time, the best approach to investing is to diversify your portfolio. Many of the smartest celebrities who venture into the business world and experience massive success follow exactly that ideal, but there is something to be said for knowing what you’re good at and focusing on just one thing as a means of making yourself super rich. That’s what pop star Beyoncé Knowles has done with her music career and 2014 was particularly successful. She managed to do a whopping 95 shows on her concert tour and it’s estimated that she made at least $2.4 million for each show. If the math is correct, that means she made over $228 million just off of touring last year.

She had one of the biggest years that a pop star has ever had in the history of music and we’re not even including a laundry list of endorsements that she has, and other basic investments that may be apart of her portfolio. Throw in the best investment of her life, marrying her equally rich husband and rapper Jay-Z, and the pair has dollar signs written all over them.

DFree /

4. Jay-Z

Jay-Z did something that no other major label artist had ever done before when his album “Magna Carter Holy Grail” came out. He sold 1 million copies worth of the album to Samsung, making it available digitally and certifying his album platinum before it even dropped in stores. It’s that kind of leadership in terms of crafting a business model that has allowled Jay-Z to become one of the richest entertainers in the world. He has been able to make hip-hop music mainstream in a way that few other rappers before him or since have been able to do.

Aside from always looking for new ways to sell his music, Jay-Z has continued to rake in a fortune with touring, selling his own brand of cognac, running a chain of nightclubs, and continuing to build his Roc Nation empire, most notably through Roc Nation Sports, Jay’s very own sports agency. As his career has gone by he’s gained more and more notoriety for his smart business moves, and even though certain ones, like his purchase of the Brooklyn Nets, didn’t exactly equate to making him a huge profit, part of being a good businessman is having the ability to cut ties when things aren’t going well and moving on to something better. Jay-Z has proven he knows how to do that.

s_bukley /

3. Ellen DeGeneres

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is not only one of the biggest stars in daytime television and one heck of a funny woman, she’s a really smart business person. Now that Oprah Winfrey’s days of hosting a daytime talk show have long gone, Ellen is basically this generation’s version of Oprah. She regularly gives away tons of free stuff which is of course paid for by sponsoring companies, and even took Oprah’s concept of a Christmas giveaway to a whole new level by giving away things to her audience for 12 straight days leading up to the holiday, which of course allows her to rake in even more money.

That said, DeGeneres’ business investments include Stampd, an app that allows you to track your favorite things. With the television viewership that she has and with how loyal her fans are, anything she likes and promotes on the show becomes an instant hit. Needless to say it should come as a surprise to no one that the app was eventually purchased by Yahoo in exchange for a very large sum of money in 2013. Publicity is definitely a powerful thing and these days Ellen is the queen of it.

s_bukley /

2. Oprah Winfrey

Few people growing up in this day and age will remember Oprah Winfrey for her acting role in the movie The Color Purple, but in 2014 she spent a lot of time touring the world promoting the movie The Butler, which received a ton of positive sentiment from critics. Although she’s been off the air in terms of her television talk show for many years now, Oprah still makes millions of dollars a year hosting her own radio show on Sirius XM and her television show is still in syndication, making her even more dough.

On top of all that the queen of media still has O Magazine and also rakes in large amounts of money from other stars that she worked to create including Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz. It’s clear that when it comes to capitalizing on media personalities, nobody can make superstars better than Oprah Winfrey. She is one of the most successful African American and female investors in the history of the planet and one powerful and rich media mogul.

Featureflash /

1. Steven Spielberg

It’s estimated that Steven Spielberg’s net worth is around $3.5 billion and his annual salary is $150 million. He’s the movie director of all movie directors and even if you’ve only watched one Hollywood movie in your entire life, there’s is probably a 50% chance that he was involved with it somehow. Of course luckily for Spielberg, he’s had his hands on many Hollywood movies, which means he’s made more than a few dollars off of you.

His annual salary probably represents only a few small fraction of what he makes from merchandise that his most successful movies have sold, DVD sales, royalties, and other forms of passive income. As we all know, having passive income is one of the keys to being financially successful, and even as the movie and television industry changes and more and more people begin watching media through streaming services, Spielberg will no doubt stay ahead of that curve and continue making the big bucks as long as he’s alive. He may not have some of the largely publicized business ventures of the pop stars on this list, but Spielberg is certainly a smart businessman.

Featureflash /
Fame 10 Staff

Fame 10 Staff