Newsflash: Oprah is one wealthy woman. But just how rich is Oprah Winfrey?
In a word: absurdly. With a net worth of $3 billion, the former talk show host was ranked by Forbes as the fifth-richest self-made woman in America in 2015. In a testament to her remarkable earning power, Oprah is the only one of the top 10 most successful self-made American women who made her fortune in media.
Of course, Oprah rose to fame from her eponymous talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which kept viewers captivated for 25 years, between 1986 and 2011.
Born in a small Mississippi town in 1954, Oprah’s net worth now exceeds the GDP of a small country — many small countries, in fact. That’s right, Ms. Oprah Winfrey has a net worth greater than 30 different countries on the planet earth, according to the most recent data from the World Bank.
How Oprah Winfrey Continues to Make Her Money
Although she’s no longer in the studio every day, Oprah continues to build her enormous wealth by her ongoing savvy investments in the field of film and entertainment. Upon retiring her show in 2011, she created her own TV network and aptly named it OWN, an acronym for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
But you don’t get what people affectionately refer to as “Oprah money” by simply flapping your jaw for a few decades and slapping your name on a TV network when you hang up your jersey. No, Oprah helped launch the career of many wildly successful TV personalities — Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Rachael Ray being perhaps the most prominent — and she collects a healthy check via her production company, which produces the shows starring personalities.
While Oprah Winfrey’s $3 billion net worth is indeed staggering, if she continues to expand her media empire her fortune will only grow larger with time.
Her production company, Harpo Productions, co-produced the 2014 movie Selma, the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic documenting a three-month period in 1965 in which the legendary civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery took place. With a production budget of $20 million, Selma grossed more than $66 million globally and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Ahead of her time in so many ways, through 2015 Oprah was still the only African-American woman on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list.
Maybe one day Beyonce will make up some ground and become the second African-American woman on the list, but with an estimated $250 million to her name in 2015, she’s got a ways to go. Even adding hubby Jay-Z’s net worth of $550 million, the power couple is worth “only” $800 million — or about one-fourth of how much Oprah’s worth.
So, for now, Oprah remains one of the richest and most financially powerful women around.
John Divine is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.