What is ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator Stephen Hillenburg’s Net Worth?

Stephen Hillenburg| Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Paramount International

Bikini Bottom is a little darker today after the passing of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg. Hillenburg announced last year he was battling ALS and died at age 57 on November 26, 2018.

Upon his passing Nicholodean issued a statement, “We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family.”

Hillenburg leaves behind his wife Karen. He also survived by his son Clay and additional family members. He also created a wonderful under-the-sea world of sunny characters which helped him build significant wealth. The director, animator, writer, and producer was worth $120 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. This is how his impressive career led to him to build this fortune.

It started with a fascination for the sea

A marine biologist at heart, Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, Variety reports. But his degree also included an emphasis on marine resources. He told The Washington Post he’s always been “an ocean freak.” And was fascinated with the ocean since childhood. In fact, his favorite films were by the famed scientist, Jacques Cousteau.

His first career led him to become a marine biology teacher in Dana Point, California. Interacting with young minds led to him to realize that an animated show might promote an interest in marine life with kids. ”It finally dawned on me that if I was going to do my own show, all those things I lectured about and obsessed about would make for an interesting world,” he told The New York Times.

Hillenburg’s career evolves to animation

He became an animator after attending California Institute of Arts in 1992. And he kicked off his animation career off with a bang. Hillenburg won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for animated short Wormholes, Variety reports. From there he worked on the Nickelodeon series, Rocko’s Modern Life from 1993 through 1996.

A sponge is born

Hillenburg married his love of marine life with animation to create the seminal series, SpongeBob SquarePants. He wrote, produced and directed the popular cartoon series starting in May 1999. Thus far the show has 250 episodes in the can, attracting both children and adult viewers. Even college students are avid fans. The series was nominated for nine Primetime Emmy Awards and won one Daytime Emmy Awards, two Annie Awards, and three ASCAP Awards.

Additionally, he produced, wrote and directed The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The 2004 release grossed over $140 million worldwide, Variety reports. He was the executive producer and wrote the story for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water in 2015.

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