20 Wealthy Celebrities Who Went from Being Poor to Mega Rich

When talking about celebrities and their fame, what hits your mind fast is wealth and power. Many will even get the notion that their rise to being celebrities can be associated to the wealth that they already have, the case of the Kardashians and Paris Hilton for instance.

What many may not know however is the fact that some of these celebrities went from being poor to being mega rich. Below are some celebrities who rose from rags to riches.

1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most popular stories of rise from rags to riches. Oprah was born in Rural Mississippi in abject poverty and was a young girl who was literally dressed in potato sacs. Winfrey’s walk to stardom however began when she walked out of her disruptive and somewhat abusive house hold and in with her father, who was a little stricter. The discipline and support she received at school helped her become an honors student.

After completing college, she became a Nashville newscaster. This was her breakthrough career and the foundation behind her becoming one of the most powerful and richest female media magnates of the planet. As of 2009, it is estimated that she is worth $2.9 billion.

2. Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester

Meetster is a famous personality who wins the admiration of quite a number of people. It would be hard to imagine that the currently polished and fashionable celebrity was actually born in a prison in Texas. During the time of her birth, her mother was serving a prison sentence for smuggling drugs. She was then placed under the custody of her grandmother until her mother was released. Despite all these odds, Meester is currently estimated to be worth $5 million.

3. J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling net worth 2015

Rowling is another case, similar to Oprah’s case. She rose from receiving charity to establishing a $15 billion industry. She is the author of the famous Harry Porter book series. As of the year 2008, she was valued at $843.92 million. She commenced writing the series while on Welfare and even included certain dark aspects of her life in the series. Some of the sad elements of her life that she included in the book were her mom’s death and her fight with depression. The books were very successful and eve gave way to Potter mania.

4. David Geffen

David Geffen

Geffen is a pretty famous figure, mostly known for signing Stills and Nash, Crosby, Nirvana and Dylan Bob. He was a Dreamworks studio founding member and established the Geffen Records. David was brought up in a one-bedroom apartment where he lived with his family and slept on the couch. He performed poorly at school and dropped out of college. He however used his musical talent and the business skills that he learned from his mother to earn himself quite a fortune by the time he were 26. He is currently one of the showbiz behind-the-scene players netting in at about $4.6 billion.

5. Celine Dion

Celine Dion net worth 2015

The youngest of 14 children, Celine was brought up in a French Canadian low income family. She was an entertainer at the piano bar that belonged to her parents. Her father made a mere $160 a week. Celine met her big break when the family sent Rene Angelil a music manager, a self-composed song. Rene was moved by her talent and he raised money for her first record and coached her all through her career. The two tied the knot and Dion is currently an estimated $800 million.

6. Jay Z

Jay Z

Shawn Carter, popularly known as Jay-Z is one of the most famous music moguls. He saw his life off at the Brooklyn’s Marcy Housing Projects. He was brought up by his mother and regularly took part in crime while growing up. He even shot his brother’s arm at the age of 12 for pinching his jewelry. He then began rapping and later ventured into business. He’s grown his business and is currently estimated at over $550 million.

7. Shania Twain

Shania Twain

Raised in Timmins, Ontario, Shania grew up in a violent household. She was raised up amidst three siblings and often suffered poverty and hunger. At 21, her mom and step dad were involved in a fatal car crash and she had to sing at local joints to support her siblings. Her talent drew the attention of labels, including Mercury Nashville Records which signed her up and gave her opportunity to rise to stardom. She is currently worth $350 million.

8. Tom Cruise

Celebrity who were once poor

Raised in Ottawa, Canada, Tom started taking part in drama in the 4th and 5th grade. After the divorce of his parents, he moved to the United States. He describes his childhood as being difficult and suffering poverty and the abuse of his father whom he now refers to as a coward and a bully. He grew his acting talent and appeared in his first film at 19. He is currently worth of $250 million.

9. Demi Moore

Demi Moore

Born in Roswell, New Mexico, Demi was raised in a trailer park by her stepfather and alcoholic mom. She was frequently caught up amidst domestic violence and her upbringing was unstable as they moved more than 30 times because her father changed jobs quite a lot. She signed with Elite Modeling Agency at the age of 16 and worked as a pin-up girl in Europe. She rose to become one of the most successful and celebrated actresses and currently nets in $150 million.

10. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

She was raised in a coal-mining town of Ohio and was the youngest of four siblings. Her parents were struggling and they later divorced while she was 2 years old. The mother remarried and four more kids were born, making things even harder as she was only a housewife and the step-father was a truck driver. She banked on her talent and landed a Broadway role at the age of 11. She later moved to Hollywood where she was cast in Square Pegs. She grew her career and is currently valued at $90 million.

11. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo experienced a tough upbringing. To support the family, his mom had multiple jobs in numerous neighborhoods of Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, he secured himself a Matchbox Cars’ ad. His career grew and is currently worth $220 million.

12. Jewel


Jewel is one of the celebrities who rose up form abject poverty to fame. She was raised by her father in an Alaskan town where they lived in a rustic house. The house did not even have a plumbing system and they used the outhouse. She grew her music talent and even bagged a MTV Video Music Award. She is currently worth 30 million.

13. Hilary Swank

Hillary Swank

Her childhood was average. When she was 6, her family moved to Bellingham, Washington into a trailer park. They later moved to LA with her mom when she was 16 where they lived in her vehicle. She cultivated her talent and has since bagged 2 Academy Awards and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is currently estimated at $40 million.

14. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Jim is a famous figure, mostly known for his role in comedy. He initially had a smooth childhood; however, things took a wrong turn when his father lost his job. He even had to quit school so as to support the family. He then ventured into the entertainment industry and got successful in it. he currently comes in at a net worth of $150 million.

15. Eminem


Eminem is one of the most widely known and celebrated rappers. The road to getting where he currently is was however not a smooth path. He had a rough childhood moving about with his single mom and suffering school bullying. He then ventured into music where his talent saw him become successful.

16. Stephen King

Stephen King

King’s father walked out of the family when he was just a kid. While life was getting hard for them, things fell apart when his grandparents fell ill. He however gave a shot at writing and it proved to be pretty successful. He is worth an approximate $400 million.

17. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey tattoo

Things were financially well for the family until the parents divorced. The father’s support was now unreliable and the mother had a tough time giving Carey and her brother a comfortable life. She went into singing where she has won numerous accolades and earned herself a fortune estimated at $510 million.

18. Sean Combs

Sean Combs tattoos

Popularly known as Puff Daddy, Sean is one of the motivating stories of from rags to riches. He was born in Harlem and his father was a drug dealer’s associate. The father was shot when he was just a kid. He however did not let all that hinder him from following his talent through which he has amassed wealth estimated at $700 million.

19. Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter)

Lil Wayne tattoos

He is one of the best rappers of all time. His mother was a cook while his father walked out of the family. He had a step farther who was also murdered. He has risen to be one of the greatest musicians and is worth about $150 million.

20. DR. Dre

DR. Dre

He did not have a smooth childhood, even though they were not financially challenged. His parents divorced and his mother remarried. He is currently one of the richest musicians and is worth $700 million.

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