10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Oprah and Her Money (2023)

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We’re 11 days into 2018 and Oprah Winfrey is already winning the year.

At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, Oprah became the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In her empowering acceptance speech, Oprah talked about the fight for equality, race, and the #MeToo movement in what we already think will be the best speech of the year.

With a net worth of $2.8 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B), Oprah knows a thing or two about money and smart business moves. But it may be surprising to learn she says money was never a priority. Oprah has been quoted as saying that her secret to success was simple: “The reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, not for one minute, been money.”

Even though she grew up with very little money, Oprah has proven to be strategic and passionate with her money. “I don't think anyone can question that she has made some sound financial decisions,” Jenn White, host of the podcast Making Oprah, told Money.

Here are 10 things you may not know about Oprah and her money.

1. Oprah owns at least three real estate properties—and they’re all stunning. 😍

Oprah currently lives in her lavish Montecito, Calif., home, a peaceful oasis she calls ‘The Promised Land." She bought the 40-acre home for $50 million in 2001 (according to Oprah Winfrey: A Biography, she paid for this home with a personal check peak #Goals).

She expanded the property by double in 2015 when she purchased a nearby 42-acre farm for $29 million. Oprah loves this home and will open it up to throw lavish parties.

She recently invited reporters for the launch of her book, The Wisdom of Sunday’s. She told those in attendance that she “paid a lot of money for this property but every single day I can tell you I look at it as a gift. There’s not a day that I wake up that I don’t have a sense of appreciation and gratitude for it. When you live in a space of gratitude, you get to see more.”

(Video) 15 Things You Didn't Know About Oprah Winfrey

Oprah's 'promised land'


In 2006 she threw a 3-day celebration dubbed the “Legends Ball” at her Montecito home. Big-name attendees such as Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, John Legend, and Maya Angelou attended. At the end, it’s rumored she gifted all the women diamond earrings.

She also owns a property in Maui, Hawaii, which she bought for $50 million. The property was discovered by her personal trainer, who turned into her property manager. He was worried it might get torn down to build condos, so she bought the property. She has no plans to build condos, and says she wants to keep the home small and personal.

"She liked [the home's] small scale," said Ellie Cullman, Oprah’s decorator, of the Hawaii estate. "She already has a large home in Santa Barbara [County]—this seems to go back to something real and personal. It's a great house for her and two or three friends."

Oprah says her home suffered “minor damage” in the recent California mudslides. She took to Instagram to show the damage.

She also has a winter property in the ski resort town of Telluride, Colo., which she bought for $14 million in 2015.

(Video) Oprah Owns Over $150M Worth of Real Estate | 10 Things You Don't Know | E!

She’s completely left the Chicago area where she resided earlier in her career. She recently sold her last property there for just under $400,000. Her famous Water Tower condo sold in 2015 for $4.6 million.

Oprah's estate in Hawaii

Erik Aeder—Getty Images

2. As a teen, Oprah would steal money from her mother’s purse.

In Oprah Winfrey: Profile of a Media Mogul, author Jeanne M. Nagle wrote that Oprah earned a scholarship to attend an affluent high school. While she was there, she became friends with wealthy people. Coming from a low-income family, Oprah was embarrassed by her financial situation and started to steal money from her mother’s purse to try and fit in with her peers.

She used that money to go out with her friends. Eventually, her mom found out. “She continued to lie to and fight with her mother and get involved with older boys,” Nagle writes. Her mother decided to send her to a juvenile detention home, but there was no space. So she sent Oprah to live with her father in Nashville, Tenn.

3. Her first job paid 50¢ an hour.

Oprah was 15 years old when she started babysitting for a woman named Mrs. Ashberry in Nashville, earning only 50¢ an hour (minimum wage was $1.30 in 1969). One day, Mrs. Ashberry—whose bedroom “always looked like the end-of-the-day, last-call sale at Macy's,” Oprah wrote on Oprah.com—asked her to clean it. She did, but Mrs. Ashberry didn’t pay her extra. So Oprah quit and started looking for “a job where I thought my efforts would be appreciated.”

She eventually took an unpaid job in her father's shop, which she didn’t like either but at least she didn’t feel like her “spirit was being drained by the hour,” she wrote.

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4. Now, Oprah's money comes from at least nine income streams. 💰

Money always suggests having additional income streams because they’re so important to gaining wealth. Most wealthy people have many income streams, and Oprah is no different. She is an extremely busy lady! (Ryan Seacrest who?) Here are just a few of the income streams we know about:

  • The bulk of her money still comes from her talk show years, according to Forbes
  • Media Proprietor: Founded Harpo Productions, chief executive of the Oprah Winfrey Network, founder of O, The Oprah Magazine, which reaches roughly 2.4 million people—that’s more than Rolling Stone and Real Simple
  • Actress & Voice Actor: 'A Wrinkle in Time', 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks', 'The Color Purple', 'The Butler', 'Selma', 'The Princess and the Frog', 'Bee Movie'
  • Producer: 'Greenleaf', 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks', 'Oprah’s Master Class', 'Queen Sugar'
  • Investor: She owns 10% stake in Weight Watchers
  • Author: The Wisdom of Sundays, Food Health and Happiness, Mr. or Mrs. Just Right: Because Mr. Or Ms. Right Does Not Exist!, What I Know For Sure
  • Speeches and Appearances
  • Freelance Journalist: Special contributor at 60 Minutes
  • Licensing: She created a new line of healthy soups and sides called O, That’s Good! and her magazine has partnered with Talbots to release a fashion collection

5. She's taken big risks—and persevered when they didn't work out. 💪🏾

Oprah was at the height of her TV career when she decided to make one of her biggest money moves. In 2011, Oprah left her talk show to launch her own channel, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Despite her show’s popularity, Oprah’s new venture had a rough start. The network was losing money in its first few years and Oprah had reached her “breaking point.

Oprah didn't give up. She started to bring in creators like Tyler Perry to help turn the network around. Recently, Oprah sold a $70 million stake in OWN to Discovery, giving up her majority control of the network. Still, Oprah will serve as OWN’s chief executive through 2025.

US First Lady Hillary Clinton (R) stands with television talk show star Oprah Winfrey (L) during an appearance on Winfrey's television show 16 May.

POOL—AFP/Getty Images

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6. She doesn’t know her ATM PIN and rarely goes to the bank.

Oprah told Ellen Degeneres that she recently stood in line at her bank to deposit a $2 million check—just because. Oprah said she hadn’t stepped foot in a bank since 1988 and apparently missed it. Again, peak #Goals.

In that same interview, Oprah admits to Ellen that she’s not sure if she even has an ATM PIN. Ellen, who is also crazy rich, relates. Imagine being so rich you don’t even know your own PIN.

7. She is the first black woman billionaire in history. 👑

Oprah surpassed Bill Cosby as the wealthiest African-American in 1995. Eight years later, Oprah passed an even bigger milestone. Forbes declared Oprah’s net worth to be $1 billion in 2003, making her the first black woman in the history to become a billionaire.

8. But that hasn't necessarily made life easier.

While shopping in Switzerland in 2013, Oprah entered a high-end store and asked to see a $38,000 Tom Ford purse behind the counter. The saleswoman, according to Oprah, said “no, it’s too expensive” and told her to look at other, cheaper bags. The manager of the store responded to the incident saying it was “200% a misunderstanding.”

9. Even though she can afford literally anything, Oprah doesn't take things for granted.

In a 2013 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah wrote that her Montecito mansion was so luxurious that she felt her guests could never relax. "This is a very grand space, but I don't want to live in a grand space anymore,” she wrote. “I want dinners to reflect my heart and spirit. I want people to feel free to ask for seconds!" So she auctioned off hundreds of items to make her home more comfortable and relaxing for everyone.

Afterwards, she says it was a liberating experience. “Over time your sense of self evolves,” Oprah wrote. “Hopefully, you grow into a deeper, more thoughtful version of who you are. Your need to please falls away and what is left is the blessed realization that you really don't have anything to prove to anyone.”

10. And she's incredibly generous. ❤️

With all of her money, Oprah still remembers how it felt to grow up in poverty. “I was poor, literally poor, like no running water poor,” Oprah said at a Forbes 400 Summit.

There was one instance she says shaped her whole outlook on philanthropy. One Christmas her mother told her they had no money, and there would be no Santa Claus. She was devastated and worried about going back to school to her friends and telling them about her Christmas gifts—or lack thereof. But nuns showed up at their house and brought food and gifts.

She says she thought about that Christmas when she first went to South Africa to build The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls. Her hope was to “create that experience that I felt for myself, that sense of wonder that somebody cared about me that didn’t even know my name.” It’s been 10 years since the academy was founded, and Oprah has spent over $140 million on the school.

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All this goes to show that no matter how little or how much money you have, being able to give a helping hand to others is the greatest gift money can give. We’re sure Oprah agrees.


What are some good things about Oprah Winfrey? ›

Oprah Winfrey engaged in numerous philanthropic activities, including the creation of Oprah's Angel Network, which sponsors charitable initiatives worldwide. In 2007 she opened a $40 million school for disadvantaged girls in South Africa. She also became an outspoken crusader against child abuse.

Does Oprah have a lot of money? ›

With an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion dollars, Oprah is one of the richest self-made women in America, according to Forbes. And she stresses the importance of spending and investing your money on/in what you truly believe in.

What are 3 important facts about Oprah Winfrey? ›

Interesting Facts about Oprah Winfrey

Oprah was crowned Miss Black Tennessee in 1972. She stopped doing beauty pageants when her career took off. She started her own production company called Harpo Productions. "Harpo" is Oprah spelled backwards.

What makes Oprah unique? ›

Best known for her multi-award-winning daytime talk show, Winfrey has also created a television network (OWN), earned the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, been nominated for an Oscar and been recognized as the first Black female billionaire in the United States.

What made Oprah a billionaire? ›

Oprah Winfrey is a TV host, author, and American billionaire that earns $300 million per year due to her diversified media companies.

Why Oprah is a good role model? ›

Oprah Winfrey is considered a role model to many individuals because of her tough childhood, wonderful charity work, her schools, and the true relationships with her fans. Oprah stands out among many people on her ability to feel others' pain and help those people get through their troubling times.

What is inspiring about Oprah Winfrey? ›

Oprah Winfrey overcame poverty, an unstable home life and abuse to become a successful talk show host, producer and philanthropist. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was one of the highest-rated talk shows and ran for 25 consecutive years.

What does Oprah Winfrey do daily? ›

She claims to read five each morning for inspiration. By 8:30 am, she meditates, which she does every day. At 9 am, after her meditation, she works out for an hour. Her workout routine involves low-impact strength training and running, either on her treadmill or around her 65-acre property.

Who is richer Oprah or Ellen? ›

Who is richer, Oprah or Ellen? Oprah Winfrey has a higher net worth than DeGeneres, clocking in at an estimated whopping $2.5 billion compared to DeGeneres' $380 million.

What does Oprah Winfrey invest in? ›

Real Estate and Other Personal Investments

Oprah has long been an avid real estate investor and has raked up an impressively diverse portfolio that includes: Water Tower Place – She has bought a total of 4 condos for over $3 million and sold them for $4.625 million in 2015.

Who does Oprah give money to? ›

OVERVIEW: The bulk of Winfrey's grantmaking has gone to educational causes, including charter schools, programs that support African-American students, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. She also makes grants through the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation.

What did Oprah Winfrey do to change the world? ›

Winfrey earned her title as the Queen of All Media by publishing her own monthly magazine, founding a TV network, serving as a "60 Minutes" correspondent, establishing a satellite-radio channel, spearheading charity drives and throwing around her political clout.

Was Oprah the first black billionaire? ›

Forbes' list of The World's Billionaires has listed Winfrey as the world's only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006 and as the first black woman billionaire in the world that was achieved in 2003.

What are some challenges of Oprah Winfrey? ›

Oprah grew up in poverty and had a tough childhood.

In addition to this, she was molested as a young child by her cousin, uncle, and family friends. Because her family also had no money to buy her nice clothing, Oprah wore dresses made from potato sacks. As a result, kids from her elementary school bullied her.

What are Oprah's core values? ›

Staying focused on the present. Being strong in her area of self-worth. Having a deep sense of purpose. Deeply trusting herself.

Who was the first black billionaire? ›

After taking BET private again in 1998, Johnson and his partners sold BET Holdings to the giant media group Viacom in 2001 for some $3 billion, though he remained at BET as its chief executive officer until 2005. The sale made him the first African American billionaire.

Who is the wealthiest female? ›

2020 list
No.NameNet worth US$ (billions)
1Alice Walton65.9
2Françoise Bettencourt Meyers65.4
3MacKenzie Scott62.3
4Julia Koch44.9
6 more rows

Who was the first white billionaire? ›

The American business magazine Forbes produces a global list of known U.S. dollar billionaires every year and updates an Internet version of this list in real-time. The American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller became the world's first confirmed U.S. dollar billionaire in 1916.

What makes Oprah a great leader? ›

Her message and example of positivity—to “live your best life”—endears her to everyone around her. Leaders who are viewed as selfish or unethical are quickly dethroned. Oprah continuously is held in the highest esteem because her humor, relatability, optimism and generosity associate her with a greater good.

Why is Oprah such a good leader? ›

Oprah has unique leadership skills in terms of compassion, ethics, inspiration and justice. She has the ability inspire people because she conforms to what is right and she fights for it. ImportantAlthough she is unable to help everybody, she has the effort to back it up.

Why is Oprah a great leader? ›

In her shows, millions of viewers can clearly see her energy, outgoing personality, positivity, encouragement, and her awareness about other people. Based on leadership evaluation, Oprah Winfrey is a transformational leader who rules by inspiring others. She has the charisma and confidence to influence other people.

What are 5 famous quotes? ›

Quotes by Famous People
  • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - ...
  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. - ...
  • Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. ...
  • If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor. -
Jan 2, 2023

How does Oprah Winfrey treat others? ›

Lead and inspire others: Oprah's leadership style demands that nothing be taken for granted. “I don't yell at people, I don't mistreat people, I don't talk down to people. Treating people with respect is the most important thing to me. It's not just talk” (Allyne, 2008).

What is Oprah's main message? ›

At the heart of everything Oprah Winfrey does, there is a consistent message – that individuals should take personal responsibility for their lives, and to improve the world. Winfrey was raised by her grandmother in Kosciusko, Mississippi.

What time does Oprah go to sleep? ›

10pm - 6am

How much sleep does Oprah get? ›

The talk show host, author and philanthropist reportedly gets eight hours of sleep between the hours of 10pm and 6am, with her last and first thoughts of the day centred upon gratitude. In the morning, rather than check her phone, Winfrey brushes her teeth and cares for her dogs before heading to her home gym.

How does Oprah spend her money? ›

She founded Oprah's Angel Network, a charity that raises millions of dollars every year. Also, she created the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa to mentor young girls.

What is Oprah Winfrey most famous for? ›

Breadcrumb. Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Winfrey' career took off when she moved to Baltimore in 1976 to host People Are Talking.

What are some facts about Oprah Winfrey's family? ›

She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unmarried teenage mother. Her mother, Vernita Lee (1935–2018), was a housemaid. Winfrey's biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey (c. 1933–2022), a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who was in the Armed Forces when she was born.

What happened to Oprah when she was 14? ›

Oprah has shared details of her traumatic history of sexual assault before, revealing that she was abused by several relatives, including an uncle, up until she was 14 — which is when she got pregnant and was sent to live with her father.

How many people watched Oprah every day? ›

United States viewership

It has been reported that the show averages an estimated 7, 14, and 15–20 million viewers a day in the United States. It has also been reported at 26 million and 42 million a week (5.2 and 8.4 million a day).

What did Oprah Winfrey fight for? ›

Given her history of abuse, Oprah initiated a campaign for a national database of child abusers in 1991. In December 1993, President Bill Clinton signed "Oprah's Bill," which became the National Child Protection Act, an act establishing a national registry of convicted child abusers.

Is Oprah a trillionaire? ›

Oprah Winfrey is a beloved American icon and billionaire reportedly worth $2.6 billion as of mid-2022.

What does Oprah spend her money on? ›

She founded Oprah's Angel Network, a charity that raises millions of dollars every year. Also, she created the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa to mentor young girls.

What is Black History facts about Oprah Winfrey? ›

Oprah Winfrey became the first Black female billionaire in the United States in 2003. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media”, she was the richest African-American of the 20th century was once the world's only black billionaire and the greatest black philanthropist in U.S. history.

What are some things Oprah Winfrey has accomplished? ›

For 25 years (1986-2011), Winfrey was host of the award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated TV show of its kind in history. As chairman and CEO, she has guided her successful cable network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network; is the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine; and oversees Harpo Films.

What was Oprah big break? ›

It was a huge success, but her real big break came in 1984, when she moved to Chicago. She hosted a chat show called AM Chicago – and less than a year later, it became The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1986, it was syndicated nationally and then broadcast to more than 100 other countries.

Does Oprah like her mom? ›

“[Oprah] does not like her mother, she does not give her phone number to her mother, but she has taken good, good care of her,” the author said. During a 2013 OWN master class, Oprah said she's had to learn to meet people — including her own mother — where they are and love them at the level they can receive it.

What condition does Oprah have? ›

Winfrey announced her thyroid problems in 2007. Before she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, she struggled with weight gain and felt exhausted all the time.

What is the number 1 most watched show? ›

In 2021 on Netflix, CBS's “Criminal Minds,” which ran from 2005-20, was the most-viewed show in the U.S. (with 33.9 billion minutes of watch time), per Nielsen.
Read More About:
  • Encanto,
  • Nielsen,
  • Stranger Things.
Jan 26, 2023

Who watches TV the most? ›

U.S. TV consumption: average viewing time 2009-2021, by ethnicity. In 2021, TV consumption in the United States was highest among African Americans,who watched an average of 3.5 hours of TV each day. Meanwhile, Asian Americans spent around half that amount of time watching television each day.


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