Happy Birthday, Oprah: Here’s a Look at the Billionaire’s Finances as She Turns 65

Look inside the media mogul's empire.

Happy birthday, Oprah! The iconic entrepreneur turns 65 today, but age is clearly just a number for the one and only Oprah Winfrey.

Long before she made history as the first black female entrepreneur on Bloomberg’s list, Oprah was one of the most influential public figures in the U.S. In 2018, the Hollywood Foreign Press awarded her the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, and her rousing acceptance speech sparked rumors of a 2020 presidential run — which she eventually denied.

From her humble beginnings to her current status as one of the world’s best-known billionaires, Oprah has proven that she’s an unstoppable force and an inspiration to generations to come. Here’s what you need to know about Oprah’s net worth, legacy and career.

Birthdate: Jan. 29, 1954
Net worth: $2.6 billion
Sources of income: “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” various media enterprises, endorsements and investments
Career highlights: 25 years running and hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show”; creating the Oprah Winfrey Network, including “Oprah’s Master Class,” one of the network’s first major programs; publishing O, The Oprah Magazine

Oprah Winfrey Net Worth: $2.6B

As of Jan. 29, 2019, Oprah Winfrey has a net worth of $2.6 billion. Although her annual earnings took a dip after she ended “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah still managed to earn a whopping $82 million in one year, Forbes reported in 2014.

Bloomberg pegged Winfrey’s net worth as high as $4 billion in 2018, however, thanks to a $427 million spike in performance at Weight Watchers International Inc.

No stranger to best-of lists, Winfrey also managed to place on several Forbes lists in 2018:

  • Power Women 2018: No. 20
  • Forbes 400 2018: No. 298
  • America’s Self-Made Women 2018: No. 6
  • Billionaires 2018: No. 887

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Oprah’s Net Worth Peaks: From Multimillionaire to First Black Female Billionaire

In 2003, Forbes announced that, at age 49, Oprah was the first black woman to become a billionaire. She had reached a net worth of $1 billion. Oprah said that her focus on opportunities, hard work and an appreciation for what she had led to her substantial monetary success.

Winfrey made history in 2018 when she reached a new milestone in her career, landing on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index — a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. The media mogul’s $4 billion empire landed her at No. 494 on the list, right after fellow billionaire Mark Cuban.

Oprah’s Weight Watchers Stock Adds to Her Net Worth

In October 2015, Oprah announced that she had paid around $43 million for a 10 percent stake (6.4 million shares) in Weight Watchers. She also said she was taking a seat on the company’s board. After Oprah’s first day of investing in the company, she had already gained $70 million due to stock prices skyrocketing.

Just a few months later, in January 2016, Weight Watchers stock rose again as Oprah tweeted a video announcing she had lost 26 pounds. By 2018, Weight Watchers International Inc. saw its share price more than double, closing at a record $100.37 on June 18, according to Bloomberg.

Oprah Winfrey Career and Earnings: From ‘A.M. Chicago’ to ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ to OWN

As a teen working at a Nashville radio station, Oprah found her calling. Though she worked hard to get a scholarship to attend Tennessee State University, she left just shy of graduation to take a job at a TV news station in Nashville. She was WTVF-TV’s youngest and first black anchor. This marked Winfrey’s first exposure to life in front of the camera, and she quickly realized that was where she wanted to remain. “It just felt like breathing,” she said. “It felt like this is where I’m supposed to be.” Here’s a breakdown of Oprah’s career.

  • In her early 20s, Oprah moved to Baltimore to anchor WJZ’s nightly news hour. Her salary was $22,000 in 1976, according to Baltimore magazine — that’s worth about $96,000 today based on inflation.
  • In January 1984, Oprah landed a job hosting the morning show “A.M. Chicago,” where she pushed the show’s ratings from last to first place.
  • Oprah expanded her show to an hour, rebranding it as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and nationally syndicated it to 120 channels in 1986. In its first season, the show’s audience grew to 10 million, grossing an astounding $125 million, $30 million of which contributed to Oprah’s net worth. As a new show, it also nabbed the 1987 Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding talk show and outstanding talk show host.
  • This success continued throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, during which “The Oprah Winfrey Show” owned daytime TV. During these peak years, the talk show often averaged over 12 million viewers a day. In 1998, Oprah was given a lifetime achievement award at the 25th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Meanwhile, Oprah’s net worth steadily grew, reaching about $800 million by 2001.
  • In 1996, Oprah announced the launch of Oprah’s Book Club, which paved the way for fame for different authors.
  • The highly successful O, The Oprah Magazine launched in 2000.
  • “The Oprah Winfrey Show” continued to rule daytime ratings throughout the early 2000s, finally ending its run in 2011 after 25 seasons.
  • Also in 2011, she launched her own TV network, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
  • Oprah continues to run O, The Oprah Magazine and OWN, which turned profitable in 2013 and is still growing despite initially disappointing ratings.

See: Where Millionaires Like Oprah and Mark Cuban Were in Their 20s

Oprah Movies

For a woman so at ease in front of the camera, perhaps it was only natural that Oprah Winfrey would step into the world of acting. Oprah’s film credits include the following:

  • Starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film “The Color Purple,” for which she received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations
  • Produced the historical film centering on a black civil rights march, “Selma,” which was nominated for the 2015 Academy Award for best picture and won for original song
  • Starred as a main character, Sethe, in the movie adaptation of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”
  • Most recently appeared in the major film “A Wrinkle in Time” as Mrs. Which

Oprah Winfrey Podcast: SuperSoul Conversations

Oprah’s podcast includes her personal selection of interviews with “thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts.” The podcast itself is based on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday TV program.

The podcast is also a testament to Winfrey’s star power. It debuted in August 2017, and once the show revealed it was in the market for advertisers, it sold its advertising slots in just 24 hours.

Some guests on Oprah’s podcast include Paulo Coelho, Deepak Chopra, former president Jimmy Carter, Shonda Rhimes, Dr. Maya Angelou, Reese Witherspoon, Jordan Peele and Michelle Obama.

Oprah’s House and Properties

Oprah has used her fortune to purchase many properties. Her most prized home is likely her Montecito, Calif., mansion; she paid about $50 million for it in 2001. Named “The Promised Land,” Oprah’s home is estimated to be worth up to $90 million today.

Oprah’s other properties include:

  • A farmhouse in Maui
  • A $14 million house in Colorado in the ski town of Mountain Village near Telluride
  • A private compound on 43 acres on Orcas Island, Wash.

Oprah’s Charity and Philanthropy

A discussion of Oprah’s legacy and finances wouldn’t be complete without mention of her generous philanthropic efforts and charitable giving; her legacy extends beyond her massive wealth. Throughout her career, Oprah has used her celebrity status to promote issues she is passionate about.

Oprah regularly gives generous portions of her wealth to educational causes. Much of her charitable efforts have been focused on her own Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which she has spent approximately $140 million to fund since its founding in 2007.

Keep reading about all of the ways Oprah Winfrey gives back.

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Jamie Young and Sean Dennison contributed to the reporting for this article.