The A-list elite definitely make a lot of dough from their mainstream professions. Much like everyone else in the world, however, having hobbies is a great way to pass the time — and when you have as much money as some celebrities do, why not turn your pastime into a way to rake in even more cash?
George Clooney, for example, accidentally found his way amongst the top-leading tequilas with his own brand, Casamigos. “As you do when you’re in Mexico, you drink a lot of tequila,” the actor’s business partner, Rande Gerber, told CNBC. “After a couple of months trying a lot of different tequilas, George turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we just make our own? One that’s perfect for us to drink?'” After serving it exclusively to their inner circle for two years, Casamigos finally had to get a license and go public — or risk losing its personal distiller. By 2017, the tequila company sold for up to $1 billion. Not too bad for a hobby, huh? Other celebs, such as Jessica Alba, have a passion for helping others, and her Honest Company brand of baby products, skincare, and homeware goods “raised $100 million at a $1.7 billion valuation in 2015,” per Forbes.
Whether their successful side hustles were initially made as a hobby or as a means to gain some extra dough, here are the surprising ways some celebrities make money.
Gwyneth Paltrow makes money off her 'wellness' products
Love her or hate her, there’s no denying Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellness brand, Goop, has had its fair share of controversy. While the idea of owning a wellness site isn’t bizarre, it’s the products that Paltrow sells that are. An example, you ask? How about jade eggs for your “yoni” (Sanskrit for womb). According to a now-deleted blog post written on the website (via The Washington Post), the eggs supposedly “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general.” The instructions? Place the jade egg in your nether regions and go to sleep. Hmm.
So, what do professionals think? According to a gynecologist who spoke to the publication, it’s “the biggest load of garbage.” Considering they were met with some backlash, perhaps that’s why Paltrow decided to take them down from the site — and replace them with a rose quartz version instead. Meanwhile, other bizarre finds include a psychic vampire repellent spray, an infrared sauna blanket, and a brass fire extinguisher.
At the end of the day, the publicity that Goop gets is clearly enough to keep it thriving. “People love to talk about like, Goop is controversial,” Paltrow told an audience at 2019’s SXSW (via The Daily Beast). “But it’s interesting because by pattern recognition you see over time these things that were like shocking or controversial, you see being widely adopted in the culture.”
Venus Williams is a total star off the court, too
When it comes to the tennis world, Venus Williams and her younger sister, Serena, are total legends. From their rags to riches story to the racism they’ve endured in their long-lasting careers, the Williams sisters have handled tremendous adversity to get to where they are today. At the time of this writing, it’s Serena who holds the better singles ranking with the WTA, while her big sis, Venus, lags a bit more behind. All things considered, perhaps it has something to do with the side hustle Venus has been working on for years.
A little-known fact about the tennis star’s career off-court is that she’s actually an interior designer at her own company, V*Starr Interiors. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the company was actually launched in 2002 but has flown under the radar. “It’s been one of the best-kept secrets,” Williams proudly revealed. As it turns out, the company has done massive projects for those in-the-know, the publication wrote, including “homes of NFL and NBA players in Davie and Miami; model residences in Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens; a hotel chain in Miami; Burr Athletic Facility at Howard University in Washington, D.C.; and the Tavis Smiley Show set in Los Angeles.” Not too shabby!
Another massive feat? As revealed by Architectural Digest in 2018, it was announced that Venus would be designing Airbnb residences with its partner, Niido, a new line of luxury apartment complexes.
From the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company to the Marshfield Hills General Store
The small town of Marshfield Hills, Mass. doesn’t seem like the type of place for a celebrity to frolic — yet that’s precisely where Steve Carell decided to buy a general store in 2009. A historic locale, the Marshfield Hills General Store has been around for over 155 years and, as Access Online revealed, The Office alum was looking to “preserve a piece of Americana.”
As the shop’s website suggests, fans of the actor should visit in the summer — as he can actually be spotted inside! It’s something Carell echoed in an email to The Boston Globe (via Access Online), revealing, “I will be manning the cash register, and stocking the shelves as time permits!” If a celeb working a regular job isn’t a wholesome enough story for you, we don’t know what is.
So, what’s inside? Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Carell explained that the shop sells “penny candy and muffins and coffee and little items.” To this day, the Crazy, Stupid, Love star still makes time to come visit. According to Boston.com, Carell came to Marshfield Hills three days before his Beautiful Boy film premiere in 2018 to help pitch in at the store. “I actually brought some merchandise down to the basement,” Carell told the website. “So yeah, I’ve been active.”
Akon only wears his own diamonds
Although Akon hasn’t been producing hits to the level that he once was in the noughties, he’s certainly maintained a busy life. In 2007, it was revealed that the R&B star was the proud owner of a diamond mine in South Africa. According to The Guardian, the “Don’t Matter” crooner can be seen “head-to-toe in the mine’s wares from day-to-day.” If you ask us, that’s a lot of bling. Not one to discuss this particular business endeavor too much, Akon told Entertainment Weekly that same year that it’s “real complicated.” Hmm.
The mine was initially met with some debate, considering the controversial flick, Blood Diamond, came out the year prior. “I don’t even believe in conflict diamonds. That’s just a movie,” Akon declared to the Independent. “Think about it. Ain’t nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out … Unless you go to Sierra Leone and see what’s going down, don’t believe everything you’re reading or see on TV. Trust me.”
In more recent years, the rapper has turned his eyes to philanthropic pursuits — that still earn him cash. Per Forbes, Akon partnered with China Jiangsu International in 2016 to start the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, where he worked to illuminate countries on the continent. The project boasts “100,000 solar street lamps installed across 480 communities in 15 countries, along with 1,200 solar micro-grids and 5,500 indirect jobs created.”
Armie Hammer makes money off of 'delicious baked goods'
Although his celebrity has been steadily growing since he won everyone’s hearts over in Luca Guadagnino’s stunning Italian drama, Call Me by Your Name, Armie Hammer is, at his core, a family man.
It’s a thought that has rung true for years: In 2011, Hammer, along with his wife, Elizabeth Chambers, opened a family bakery in San Antonio, Texas. Even cuter? All the recipes they use are passed down from Chambers’ mother and grandmother. “It’s nice to have something you can put your hands on and create,” Chambers told E! News of Bird Bakery. “San Antonio was the perfect place. We spent Thanksgiving there. I was born there. Everyone knows us and the people are so sweet.”
Even though he’s riding the Hollywood wave much more now than he was when they opened up their first location, Hammer is still delightfully involved. In 2018, the actor told The Denver Post about his plans to open up another location in Colorado. “We can’t wait to feed you guys delicious baked goods,” the actor said, explaining that they chose Denver due to their family ties. “When we’re there at the bakery, the in-laws will be there and we can bring the kids. We like to keep a nice family feeling to the bakery, so we might as well do it where we have family.”
Susan Sarandon's hobby attracted A-list legends
Susan Sarandon loves ping pong. Don’t believe us? Check out her 2014 comedy Ping Pong Summer, where she takes on a Mr. Miyagi-type role in a flick dedicated to table tennis. Even better? Director Michael Tully specifically wanted her for the part. As he told The Hollywood Reporter, Tully asked himself, “Well, what Oscar-winning actresses actually own a ping pong club?”
Lo and behold, Sarandon’s love for table tennis goes beyond the screen, as she’s co-owner of a chain of ping pong clubs called SPiN. What’s more, they’re just as cool as they sound. According to the New York Post, Sarandon opened the clubs with business partners Franck Raharinosy and Jonathan Bricklin. “I think that Susan got very intrigued by our concept of ping pong parties and the super-diverse group of colorful characters that were attending those,” Raharinosy dished. “She loves the fact that it is an activity where women can easily win against men, and kids also can compete with adults.”
The clubs have also played host to a variety of different A-listers, such as the late legendary Prince himself. As Jimmy Fallon once recalled on The Tonight Show, he once saw Prince standing at a SPiN location in a “double-breasted crushed blue velvet suit, holding a ping-pong paddle.” As Prince turned to Fallon, he said, “‘You ready to do this?'” If that’s not enough reason to go play some ping pong, we don’t know what is.
Mark Wahlberg's all-American business is a money-maker
Mark Wahlberg has a reputation for being a down-to-earth, laid-back celebrity. Men seem to think he’s “the man” while women are still gushing over his ’90s Calvin Klein ad when he went by the name “Marky Mark.” From owning his own line of supplements to even having a stake in the Caribbean cricket team, the actor is just plain cool.
In 2018, Wahlberg made quite the testosterone-driven business decision — he bought a Chevrolet dealership. “I am continuously looking for ways to innovate my brand and engage in businesses I am passionate about,” Wahlberg said in a statement (via Columbus Business First). “I love cars and the chance to … represent an iconic brand like Chevrolet inspired me to get involved.”
While Wahlberg co-owns the dealership with dealer Jay Feldman, he’s still very much immersed in the company. “Mark is involved in every business he owns, and frankly it’s not unusual for him to just pop in and see how things are going,” Feldman told Columbus Business First. Sure enough, as revealed by Automotive News, the Lone Survivor star has become known, in fact, to stop by, go on test drives with customers, take selfies with the staff, and autograph vehicles for fans.
This actor wants fans to 'unleash their inner Murray'
Bill Murray knows how to have a good time. From crashing bachelor parties to bartending at a bar in Brooklyn, the actor merely does what he wants. “I’m not [acting like this] for the purpose of being exciting,” Murray once told The Guardian. “I do it because it’s fun.”
Well, he certainly knows how to have fun, at times even finding ways to monetize his hobbies. As most Murray fans know, the Caddyshack star is a golf fanatic. He’s been a staple on courses, always found in colorful get-ups that are as whimsical as the actor himself. In 2016, he decided to finally launch his own line of golf clothing along with his brothers. Inspiring every person to “unleash their inner Murray,” the designs are loud and colorful, incorporating the actor’s sense of humor. As brother Joel Murray told Vanity Fair, “With William Murray Golf, we’re looking for that perfect combination of style, humor, and subtle irreverence as a way to make things more laid back, relatable and fun.”
Per The New York Times, fans will be happy to know that Bill Murray has even worn the designs himself, in particular one short sleeve polo “with a print featuring tiny highball glasses, some of them tipped over.” As Joel told the newspaper, it was actually his famous brother who came up with the motif. “He said: ‘What if some of the drinks are spilled? Sometimes drinks spill.'” Adorable.
Videogames are what make Aerosmith the big bucks
Aerosmith is a band that has withstood the test of time. As NewHampshire.com once put it, they’re even “considered by many to be America’s greatest rock and roll band.” Performing together since the ’70s, they’ve released countless albums. “I started singing in Aerosmith at 26 and at 29 we were making thirty thousand a night,” Steven Tyler told Howard Stern on his radio show in 2016 (via SiriusXM). Interestingly enough, however, they’ve earned a large chunk of their money in the strangest manner.
According to Activision (via PC Mag), the video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith has earned the band more cash than any of their albums. As Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick explained to the publication, “[Their] version of Guitar Hero generated far more in revenues than any Aerosmith album ever has. Merchandising, concert sales, their ability to sign a new contract [have] all been unbelievably influenced by their participation in Guitar Hero.” Vox reported that, by 2015, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith had sold over four million copies. In a jarring contrast revealed by Rolling Stone, their 2004 album, Honkin’ on Bobo, “sold 160,500 copies in its first week, grossing about $2 million.”
As guitarist Brad Whitford explained, “We were all pretty aware of how popular the game was, and being the first band to have our own version of it seemed pretty exciting.” Pretty exciting indeed, considering they raked in the dough without even releasing any new music.
Nicolas Cage has Superman to thank for some of his millions
The always eccentric Nicolas Cage is known to spend his hard-earned dollars on, well, pretty much anything. Per CNBC, the Mandy actor once went from being a top Hollywood earner worth $150 million — to suddenly having $25 million to his name. If you’re wondering how that could happen, perhaps it has something to do with his $3 million island in the Bahamas, the late shah of Iran’s Lamborghini worth $450,000, or maybe his pet octopus, which is worth $150,000. If you’re shaking your head, don’t stop — as it’s the story of his first-ever 1938 Superman comic that’s the most shocking.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cage bought the comic in 1997, paying $150,000 for it. Suddenly, in 2000, the actor reported it stolen to the Los Angeles police. As luck would have it, he later recovered his collectible in April 2011 when the contents were discovered in an abandoned storage locker.
Fast forward to that November, when Cage put up his precious memorabilia in an online auction, selling it for a whopping $2,161,000 — the first comic to sell for more than $2 million at an auction.
ScarJo was once the kernel queen of Paris
Scarlett Johansson opened up an unusual, albeit short-lived, business venture in 2016 — her own popcorn shop in Paris. According to the Daily Mail, the actress launched Yummy Pop, her gourmet popcorn shop with her now-ex-husband, art collector Romain Dauriac. Speaking in a statement (via Daily Mail), Johansson gushed, “It has been a dream of mine and my family for several years to bring our favorite American snack to our favorite European City!”
Of course, as the starlet was so passionate about her kernels, she ensured her shop sold a variety of different flavors. As revealed by The Hollywood Reporter, those included “cheddar, truffle parmesan and olive oil and salt n’ pepper; for those with a sweet tooth, Canadian maple, chocolate strawberry and strawberry cream.”
Unfortunately for ScarJo, her business didn’t last long and has since closed. Perhaps it had something to do with her split from Dauriac — or the fact that the French found the endeavor a bit confusing. As one woman quipped to The Hollywood Reporter, “They only serve popcorn? Tres bizarre.”
Elizabeth Hurley made money as a farmer
Over a decade ago, British actress Elizabeth Hurley needed some time to step away from the glitz and glam of A-list life. “For the last couple of years I was finding it harder and harder to live in London,” she explained to the Daily Mail in 2009. “I had got to the point where it was making me ill, and I couldn’t control my rage at being followed by the paparazzi.”
Her solution? Moving her family to their 400-acre farm in Gloucestershire, England. The Austin Powers celeb certainly took to country living and, as The Telegraph revealed, she even raised livestock on her farm. Eventually, the actress decided to monetize her countryside haven, and in 2009, used it to launch a line of high-end snacks.
Although Hurley seemed to love her relaxed lifestyle, she sold the property in 2014 for six million pounds, according to The Telegraph. Just because the starlet moved back to the city, however, doesn’t mean she gave up supporting local businesses. “I used to have a small organic farm … Obviously, that’s not possible for most people, but supporting local farmers wherever you live is a good thing,” Hurley later told The Cut. “I always try and eat food that’s grown locally. That goes for meats and vegetables … If I can grow it myself, I’m even happier.”
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