Who Got Rich Last Year? 2019’s Top 10 Success Stories

By Nora Mathe

With the economy flourishing and reaching pre-recession levels, many startups, celebrities and inventors earn incredible amounts of money in short periods of time. We are no longer counting the millionaires of the world!

There are so many billionaires these days that having a million dollars almost seems easy. Let’s take a look at the most successful business owners, entertainers, and sportsmen who earned a lot of money in 2019!

Some of the people featured struck gold last year, while some built their businesses carefully until they reached amazing success. Check out these success stories.

10. Jeffree Star

 

Net Worth: $50m

Jeffree Star is no stranger to the online world. With his aesthetic and style reminiscent of drag queens and his opinionated persona, he has been garnering attention online since the early 2000s on social websites such as MySpace.

Instagram.com / @jeffreestar, Instagram.com / @jeffreestar

He tried his hand at a music career, and he turned to YouTube in 2017. Although his channel was created all the way back in 2006, he started posting makeup tutorials in 2017.

Jeffree Star used his online presence to promote his makeup line, which is quite successful today, with his products selling out in minutes. The bombastic online personality made $18m just from his YouTube channel, and Business Insider called him the 5th highest paid YouTuber this year.

9. Ariana Grande

 

Net Worth: $80m

Ariana Grande’s career started with a show on Nickelodeon, but since then she has become the pop princess we know and love. Although she was definitely a rising star for at least 3 years, her big break came at the end of 2018 when she released the hit song “Thank U, Next”, which became a catchphrase and a hit across the entire world.

Instagram.com / @arianagrande, Instagram.com / @arianagrande

Grande’s net worth jumped up from an estimated $50m to $80m in 2019 due to the immense success of her album, “Sweetener”, selling 230,000 copies worldwide the first week of its release. She raked in $8m for her two-weekend headlining slot at Coachella 2019. She also has a successful perfume line.

8. Aaron Rodgers

 

Net Worth: $89.3m

The Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers signed an incredible deal last year: his then-record four-year contract was worth $134 million. Which means that his base salary in 2019 is $20m. The football player is also a smart businessman, taking care of his money so far.

NFL, Pride of Detroit / © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Forbes reports that he launched a $50 million venture and growth-stage fund with Roth Capital in 2019, and he is a general partner along with Nate Raabe and Byron Roth.

7. Travis Scott

 

Net Worth: $98m

Travis Scott’s net worth, similarly to Ariana Grande’s, jumped a lot in 2019. He is reported to have earned $60m from July 2018 to July 2019. His net worth was estimated at around $60m last year; currently, he is close to doubling that.

People, XXL Mag

Scott’s career has been steadily on the rise since 2017, but with more media attention on him due to his extremely famous baby mama, Kylie Jenner, his name is now ingrained in popular culture, even if you’re not a fan of rap. His money, however, comes from his musical success: his 2019 tour, Astroworld, grossed $65m.

6. Kylie Jenner

 

Net Worth: $1b

Kylie Jenner was named the youngest self-made billionaire by Forbes, which was highly contested by the public. Keep in mind that Jenner comes from a very wealthy family and she was famous even as a child. Her business venture is in makeup, which she marketed with her incredible fame.

Instagram.com / @kyliejenner, Instagram.com / @kyliejenner

The company was launched in 2015, and since then it has established itself as a legitimate makeup brand. In 2018, the company sold $360m worth of makeup. This year, however, Jenner’s success has been explosive: she launched a skincare brand alongside her makeup brand, called Kylie Skin which sells out continuously. 

5. Jihan Wu

 

Net Worth: $1.5b

Jihan Wu is the co-founder of BITMAIN, a company that maintains Bitcoin miners, among them AntPool, which holds the largest hashrate distribution amongst mining pools. Currently, AntPool mines 16.4% of all blocks.

CNN, Fortune / © BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Wu’s company was founded in 2013, and he nearly gave up on it once the price of Bitcoins plummeted in 2018, but thankfully he stuck it out and waited. Currently, the business is on the rise again, and his company has become more profitable in 2019.

4. Chris Wanstrath

 

Net Worth: $1.8

Chris Wanstrath is a technology developer and entrepreneur who founded and was the CEO of GitHub. He keeps his private life out of the limelight, so there is not much known about him, but his business ventures are well documented.

ESRI, Forbes

GitHub was sold to Microsoft in 2018, and since then Wanstrath became a technical fellow at Microsoft, working on strategic software initiatives. Currently, he is enjoying his wealth acquired from the successful business he ran. He is included in Fortune’s “Forty under Forty” list, due to the nearly 2 billion-dollar empire he managed to build.

3. John and Patrick Collison

 

Net Worth: $2.1b each

The Collison brothers came up with an amazing business idea while they were attending college in Boston: they founded a company that lets businesses and individuals accept payments over the internet. The company was launched in 2010 and was backed by Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Sequoia Capital.

independent.ie, Fortune / Photograph by Gabriela Hasbun for Fortune

Since then, their wealth steadily increased, but 2019 is a great year for them. The San Francisco-based Stripe raised $150 million from CapitalG, an investment division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and General Catalyst Partners, which made their net worth jump significantly.

2. Pavel Durov

 

Net Worth: $2.7b

Pavel Durov is a Russian entrepreneur best known for creating VK, and later Telegram Messenger, a cloud-based instant messaging platform. His company competes with giants such as WhatsApp, owned by Facebook. 

Instagram.com / @durov

Durov is often referred to as “Russia’s Zuckerberg” because he invented VK, the social media network similar to Facebook. Forbes reports that in 2018, Durov, with his brother Nikolai, raised $1.7 billion from investors to create TON, a blockchain system based on Telegram. This has proved to be a successful business venture so far.

1. Evan Spiegel

 

Net Worth: $3.7b

Evan Spiegel is the co-founder of Snap, the company that owns Snapchat. He is one of the only 3 self-made billionaires in the world under 30. Spiegel founded the company together with his Stanford fraternity brother, Bobby Murphy, and both of them hold 18% shares in it, but they both have voting shares, so they have a lot of control over the board.

NY Times / © Mike Cohen for The New York Times, Forbes / © GETTY IMAGES FOR SNAP INC.

Spiegel made it to the first place on our list because out of his $3.7b worth, almost $2.1b was accumulated in 2019! Interestingly enough, Spiegel only graduated from Stanford in 2018, six years after dropping out to work on Snapchat. In an interview with NBC, he claimed that he was motivated by his baby, Hart Kerr Spiegel, because he wanted to inspire him to pursue a college education later in life.

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Instagram.com / @durov, Instagram.com / @kyliejenner