A majority of the wealthiest people in the world comes from backgrounds of extreme ends. The lucky ones were born into fortune families, which led them to easy roads of success. On the other end of the spectrum are ones that rose from desperation. Here are 3 stories of individuals who went from rags to riches.

Style: "streiber-white"

  1. Oprah Winfrey

Now, I’m sure we have all heard of Oprah Winfrey, the queen of all media. Her show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was the highest rated television program of its kind. Not only is she the first African-American woman that has reached that level of success, she is also one of America’s top philanthropist. However, her path to her empire did not start with joyful beginnings. She was born to a single mother and was left to raised by her maternal grandmother for 6 years. She lived in a rural area that was plagued by poverty. When she was 6, she was sent to live with her mother in a ghetto neighborhood in Milwaukee. This place that was terrorized by crime and extreme poverty, would be Winfrey’s home for the next 6 years. During this time she encountered countless sexual abuse by men that her family trusted. At the age of 12, she was sent to live with her father, but not long after her mother claimed her once more. After years of trauma, which resulted in poor behavior she was sent back to her father. Around that time her life started to get brighter. Her father disciplined and guided her. After she graduated, she would work several years as a local news update reporter and a cohost for a morning talk show. However, in 1984 Winfrey’s career took a major turn. She moved to Chicago, Illinois where she became an anchor on A.M. Chicago. When she first took over the show, the ratings were consistently low, but within a year the show hit new highs. In 1985, A.M. Chicago would be renamed, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Oprah Winfrey now has a net worth of 3.7 billion USD.


  1. Les Brown

Les Brown is most popularized by his motivational speeches and books. He is one of the highest paid speakers in the nation. However, his beginnings were nothing like a dream; well unless it’s a nightmare. Brown was born in a low-income area in Miami, in an abandoned building. He was given away at 3-weeks and then adopted at 6-weeks, by an unmarried cafeteria cook. Due to his inability to concentrate he was labeled “educably mentally retarded.” However, with the encouragement of a teacher and his mother, he began to build slow confidence. After high school, he became a sanitation worker. He knew he wanted to pursue a career in radio broadcasting, so he relentlessly approached the owner of the local radio station. After, awhile of doing odd jobs at the station he was finally able to fulfill his dreams. He later moved to Ohio, where he would become a broadcast manager. He was a great communicator and was gaining fast attention. But, with fast attention also comes controversy. Hence, Brown was released from his job. Though, his departure from broadcasting was not volunteered he decided to move on and became the 29th seat house district of Ohio state legislator. In 1981, at the age of 36 Brown had to leave his governmental duties to take care of his sickly mother. By the age of 41, Brown was a single parent, broke, and was sleeping on the floor of his office. This was the lowest and turning point of his life. Brown, finally decided to pursue his goal of becoming a motivational speaker and push away his lack of confidence, due to his absence of college education. He started off speaking to students, clubs, and organizations. 4 years later, the National Speakers Association rewarded Brown with their highest degree of recognition. Les Brown is now worth 10 million USD.


  1. K. Roweling

J.K. Roweling authored one of the world’s favorite storylines, the Harry Potter series, during a period of her life that was far less than ideal. She first conceived the idea for Harry Potter when she was 25. However, due to the sudden death of her mother, her idea trailed off. At 26, she moved to Portugal to teach English and met her first husband. At 28, she had her daughter Jessica, but within that same year she and her husband split. Soon after her marriage ended, she moved back to the UK, where she attempted to complete her book. This was a rough period in her life because she was living off of welfare; she had barely enough to support herself and her daughter. When Roweling, finally finished the first book of the series her hardships did not halt. 12 major publishing companies rejected her book; it took her over a year for a small publishing company to agree to take it. In 1996, her efforts paid off as the sales took off. In 1998, Warner Bros secured the rights to adapt and film her novels. By 2005, Roweling finished the last book of the series. J.K. Roweling is today’s highest paid author with a net worth of almost a billion USD.