Oprah Winfrey’s rags-to-riches story is the stuff of celebrity legend. Born in 1954 in rural Mississippi to a single mom, she had a difficult childhood that was marked by sexual abuse and several moves between the homes of different family members. But despite challenges, she earned a scholarship to attend Tennessee State University, embarked on a career in TV, and eventually became one of the richest self-made women in America.
Today, Oprah is worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes, making her one of the wealthiest people in the U.S. And that’s not the only record she holds. The talk show host and media mogul has also earned multiple Guinness World Records because of her high earnings.
Oprah is the highest-paid woman in TV history
Over her 25 years on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the talk show host sat down with several Guinness record holders. In 1997, she interviewed a girl with over 1,000 letters in her name — a record at the time. And in 2008, David Blaine set a Guinness World Record on her show when he held his breath underwater for more than 17 minutes, Reuters reported.
But Oprah has also nabbed her own Guinness records — two, in fact. Both are related to her sky-high earnings for her talk show and other ventures.
In May 2003, Oprah became the person with the largest TV contract when she signed a $279 million deal with ABC to extend her show for another two years.
Then, in 2010, Guinness declared her the female television personality with the highest-ever annual earnings. Between June 2009 and June 2010, Oprah earned an estimated $275 million from O, The Oprah Magazine; her radio contract; her production company Harpo; and the Oprah Winfrey Network. Oprah still holds both records.
Oprah is still one of the highest-paid celebs in the world
While Oprah is no longer pulling in nine-figure annual earnings, she’s still one of the richest stars out there. From June 2019 to May 2020, she earned $37 million. That was enough to land her at no. 91 on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest-paid celebrities of the year.
Oprah’s return to the rich list was largely thanks to her lucrative deal with AppleTV+, for which she received an estimated $10 million — with bigger payouts to come. She appears in a revival of her famous book club for the streaming service and hosts The Oprah Conversation, which features her chats with notable figures such as Mariah Carey and Ibram X. Kendi, author of the bestseller How to Be an Antiracist.
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