How Much is Kevin O’Leary Worth?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock (12386920hj)Entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary arrives for the 43rd annual American Music Awards held at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on November 22, 2015.
Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock / Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock

Kevin O’Leary, 67, is a Canadian entrepreneur, businessman, author, politician and reality TV show personality who made a name for himself in business far before he made his presence known to Americans on “Shark Tank.” His “Shark Tank” nicknames include “Mr. Wonderful” and “the Shark with the sharpest teeth.”

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O’Leary is known for being blunt and perhaps slightly mean on “Shark Tank,” hence the curious juxtaposition with his TV nickname of “Mr. Wonderful.” O’Leary first big business move saw him founding software company SoftKey, which was later renamed The Learning Company following the acquisition of the latter business. He has since engaged in a string of successful investments and business ventures, and holds an estimated net worth of $400 million per Celebrity Net Worth.

His first TV appearance as an investor came in 2006 on the Canadian TV series “Dragon’s Den,” the precursor to “Shark Tank.” Four years later, he was cast to be on “Shark Tank” in the United States, and worked on both shows until 2014. Now, he only appears on the American series.

He has made other TV appearances, including co-hosting Discovery Channel’s “Discovery Project Earth” in 2008 and producing and hosting his own reality show in 2012 — “Redemption Inc.” — where he tried to help former criminals launch their own businesses. 

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O’Leary has published three books, including “Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life.”

Early Life and Career

Terence Thomas Kevin O’Leary was one of two sons born to Georgette and Terry O’Leary in Montreal, Quebec, on July 9, 1954. 

His parents split up when he was young and his mother remarried an economist who traveled around the world and took his family with him. His mom was a vital influence on him and taught him some key financial principles.

While O’Leary had an interest in photography, he chose to pursue a career in business. In 1977, he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in environmental studies and psychology. Three years later, he earned his MBA from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario.

Business Career

While studying for his MBA, O’Leary completed an internship at Nabisco, and worked as an assistant brand manager for the company’s cat food line. He credits this experience as helping him develop skills that aided his later success. After leaving Nabisco, O’Leary embarked on a brief career as a television producer, co-founding independent television production company Special Event Television (SET). He eventually sold his interest in SET to one of his partners.

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In 1986, O’Leary launched SoftKey (alongside two other individuals) using the money received from selling his portion of SET, as well as $10,000 in seed money procured from his mother, per Business Insider. SoftKey acquired The Learning Company in 1995 for $606 million and his company adopted its name. Four years later, The Learning Company was sold for $4.2 billion to Mattel.

O’Leary tried his hand at Canadian politics in 2017 — running for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada after the resignation of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper — but dropped out after only a few months.

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Personal Life and Real Estate

O’Leary married his wife Linda in 1990. Despite a brief separation, they remain together and share two children. Linda works for O’Leary Wine as the VP of marketing. He has touted himself as being a connoisseur of fine wines and liquor on “Shark Tank.”

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He splits most of his time between Toronto, Ontario and Miami, Florida, but owns vacation properties in Canada, the United States and Geneva, Switzerland.

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About the Author

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than 15 years of experience covering traditional and new media topics. She is currently a communications strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University — her alma mater where she earned a B.A. in film studies. Michelle’s primary topics of interest are arts & entertainment (TV, humor, theater and classic films are favorites), food and lifestyle. She also covers general news, business, beauty, gift guides and medical/health-related stories. Michelle also has a passion for conducting interviews with all sorts of interesting people. When not working or watching too much TV, she is a skilled home cook specializing in Puerto Rican and Southern cuisine, loves in-home entertaining and trivia/games nights, sipping Jack Daniels on the rocks and cheering for the San Francisco Giants.

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