There are plenty of celebrity millionaires, but few make it into the next strata to join the billionaires club, led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates with a net worth of $79.3 billion -- and one could argue that many billionaires are celebrities by default.
Here are eight of the most prominent billionaires that have at least some connection to typical celebrity pursuits (entertainment, sports, and politics), and their approximate net worth according to Forbes.
- Michael Bloomberg ($35.7 Billion) – The former mayor of New York has returned to the source of his wealth, Bloomberg LP. He now controls an 88% stake in the firm. Not only is Bloomberg a billionaire in net worth, he has also given away over a billion dollars – an estimated $3.3 billion so far..
- George Lucas ($5 Billion) – Long ago in a town far, far away (Modesto, CA), George Lucas would grow up to eventually become a top-notch director and filmmaker, creating the enduring nerd fest franchise that is Star Wars. Thanks to Star Wars revenue and the 2012 sale of his company LucasFilms to Disney, Lucas tops the list of wealthy filmmakers… despite producing the dismal Howard the Duck.
- Jerry Jones ($4.2 Billion) – Jones parlayed his oil fortune into the purchase of the Dallas Cowboys, arguably one of the greatest brands and cash cows in sports today – even if its recent performance on the field has been far removed from the glory days..
- Donald Trump (Net Worth $4 Billion) – Trump’s wealth comes from real estate dealings, but he is now as much of a media celebrity as anything else. His Celebrity Apprentice is continuing a long run on NBC; he is associated with the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants… and of course, his appearances on TV opinion shows and his periodic threats to run for President keep him in the public eye..
- Steven Spielberg ($3.6 Billion) – By directing such classics as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, Spielberg established himself as a first-rate movie director and producer. He continues to build his wealth through a cut of the Universal theme parks and his DreamWorks studio..
- Mark Cuban ($3 billion) – The owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC’s Shark Tank made his fortune through excellent timing – he sold Broadcast.com, his video portal, to Yahoo in 1999 shortly before the tech crash..
- Oprah Winfrey ($3 Billion) – The former queen of daytime television blossomed into a conglomerate with her own magazine and TV network. She continues to reap syndication benefits from her talk show and the spin-off programs that followed her such as Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray.
- Michael Jordan ($1 Billion) – Arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan now is on the other side of the court as the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
Other reputed celebrity billionaires include former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney ($1.2 billion), Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling ($1 billion), Andrew Lloyd Webber ($1.2 billion), and pop star Madonna ($1 billion).
One surprising soon-to-be billionaire is a Seinfeld alum – but it’s not Jerry! Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Elaine from Seinfeld currently starring in Veep on HBO, is reportedly in line to inherit $3 billion from her father, the grandson of the founder of Louis Dreyfus Group.
Picture yourself on this list someday. You may never reach it, but let these billionaires inspire you to make the most of your opportunities. That is how almost everyone on the billionaires list got there in the first place (and manages to stay there). Although Julia Louis-Dreyfus will get a little help from her Dad.