Nespresso Pays George Clooney Over $40 Million — and He Invests It In a Satellite Over Sudan?

Celebrities tend to have a lot of money, and that means that they sometimes spend it in bizarre ways. While plenty of celebrities spend money frivolously as a way of flaunting their wealth, others are savvy investors who make their financial decisions with an eye to the future.

George Clooney is among the stars who turn heads with their investment decisions, and one particular endeavor has definitely caught people’s attention. 

George Clooney’s commercial endorsement deal with Nespresso has definitely been a lucrative one, but it has also been controversial. 

George Clooney has a history with Nespresso

George Clooney on the red carpet
George Clooney | Franco Origlia/Getty Images

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Clooney is a celebrated movie star with decades of acting experience and accolades under his belt. He is also a noted humanitarian, so an endorsement from Clooney carries some extra weight for companies trying to improve their image.

His endorsement of Nespresso, a luxury coffee brand, was definitely a high-end deal that netted Clooney an impressive paycheck. 

Clooney first partnered with the coffee company in 2006. In the past, Clooney expressed excitement about the chance to work with the Swiss company and saw it as a way to combine his philanthropic and commercial endeavors.

In 2013, according to The Richest, he commented about the company’s plan to develop plantations in Sudan: “I am excited for the opportunity to bring together my role as an ambassador for Nespresso and an advocate for a better future for the people of South Sudan.”

Since then, he has appeared in a variety of advertisements ranging from social media posts, print ads, and commercials. Their long-running deal has netted Clooney millions of dollars and boosted Nespresso’s visibility and audience. However, the partnership has recently come under scrutiny as some of Nespresso’s business practices run against Clooney’s own public persona. 

Nespresso has faced accusations of child labor violations

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Recently, the partnership between Clooney and Nespresso has been thrown into chaos. An episode of the British documentary series Dispatches featured Nespresso and revealed that their business practices were not quite as humanitarian as the company had led the world to believe.

A journalist who toured the Nespresso facilities in Guatemala found child labor as a widespread practice. Footage of children picking and hauling heavy beans as they worked six days a week led to public outcry. 

Clooney has come forward to denounce the practices. He has expressed dedication to making sure fair labor practices are a part of the company’s policies.

He said in a statement, reported by E! News: “That’s why I joined the Sustainability advisory board of Nespresso seven years ago along with the Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade International, and the Fair Labour Association among many others with the goal then, as it remains to this day to improve the lives of farmers.” 

For their part, Nespresso’s parent company, Nestle, has also expressed disapproval and has vowed to put more regulations and oversight in place to ensure the practices are ended. 

George Clooney spent some of his Nespresso money on a satellite

While Clooney and Nespresso navigate the next steps of both their partnership and the business practices, the renewed attention on the brand has brought up a different topic: Clooney’s use of his endorsement money. Back in 2013, Clooney spoke with The Guardian and explained that some of the money he earned from the deal with Nespresso was invested in a surveillance satellite, according to NME.

When discussing his Nespresso profits, Clooney said, “most of the money I make on the commercials I spend keeping a satellite over the border of North and South Sudan to keep an eye on Omar al-Bashir.” 

Omar al-Bashir is a former Sudanese dictator, and he has been accused of war crimes. Since Clooney has made at least $40 million in his partnership with Nespresso, people began to wonder just how much Clooney invested in the surveillance project.

Benjamin Davies, the manager of the project, came forward on Twitter to explain that Clooney invested about $700k, which helped to start the project. It continued to run with donations from other funders.