What Was “Mean” Gene Okerlund’s Net Worth Before He Died?

Gene Okerlund attends the WWE screening of "Legends' House" at Smith & Wollensky on April 15, 2014 in New York City.

Gene Okerlund | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for WWE

Gene Okerlund, also known as “Mean” Gene Okerlund, died on January 2, 2019, at the age of 76. Here’s a look back at the professional wrestling announcer and interviewer’s life, career, and net worth.

Gene Okerlund’s death

Okerlund’s son Todd said he died roughly one month after a fall, reports The New York Times.

Celebrities mourn

Former WWE champion Ric Flair before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ric Flair | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After news of Okerlund’s death was announced, celebrities took to Twitter to express their condolences and share memories. Wrestler Triple H tweeted, “A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. ‘Mean Gene’ was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Former wrestler Ric Flair also shared a note on Twitter. His message read, “One of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You.”

Early years and rise to fame

Cast members Tony Atlas, Gene Okerlund, Hillbilly Jim, Jimmy Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Howard Finkel attend the WWE screening of "Legends' House" at Smith & Wollensky on April 15, 2014 in New York City.

Gene Okerlund and “Legends’ House” cast members | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for WWE

Gene Okerlund was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. “Mean” Gene Okerlund was best known for working with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and World Championship Wrestling. He was given the nickname Mean Gene by wrestler Jesse Ventura.

Okerlund started his career in radio and later joined the American Wrestling Federation in 1974. He rose to fame as a backstage interviewer for the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

The announcer was one of the stars on the 2014 WWE Network reality series Legends’ House. Other WWE Hall of Famers who appeared on the show included “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan.

How Gene Okerlund became involved in professional wrestling

You might think Okerlund had a goal of working in professional wrestling, but that wasn’t the case. In a 2017 interview, he told Sports Illustrated he pretty much fell into the job.

Verne Gagne syndicated a show called All Star Wrestling for the AWA. I had run into Verne at a TV station, where we first met, and then he called me when his regular guy had some sort of issue and couldn’t make a particular date.

This was a live show at six o’clock, and Verne got ahold of me that day at 4pm. Instead of saying hello, he said, ‘Do you have a coat and tie?’ I said I did, and he said, ‘Could you do my wrestling show tonight? We don’t have an announcer.’ I backed off right there. ‘I know nothing about wrestling,’ I explained. ‘I don’t want to embarrass you and I certainly don’t want to embarrass myself.’ I was very dubious about getting involved, especially with the limited knowledge I had. Verne was very persuasive, and he talked me into it. We went on the air, and that was in April of 1971, and I’ve been involved in professional wrestling ever since.

Personal life

Okerlund was married to his wife Jeanne from 1964 until he died in January 2019. The couple had two children.

How he made his money

Okerlund had other income streams outside his primary job. One way he made money was by allowing restaurants to use his name. One was a quick-service restaurant chain named “Mean Gene’s Burgers,” and another was a pizza chain named “Mean Gene’s Pizza.”

Gene Okerlund’s net worth

At the time of his death, Gene Okerlund had a net worth of $9 million.

Read more: Hulk Hogan Net Worth and How Much He Made from Wrestling

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