Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, philanthropist, and talented actress.

She was the well-known star of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a talk show that spanned 25 years. Winfrey was able to transform it into a media and business empire that built her an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion.

Winfrey grew up poor, and her childhood and early adolescence were difficult. But her drive to succeed, and to prove herself, motivated her to achieve wealth and fame.

Winfrey, who resides in Montecito, California, has a lavish real-estate portfolio of vacation homes from Washington state to Hawaii and Antigua. She’s also donated millions to charity.

Here’s a look at her life and career, and how she spends the fortune she’s amassed.


Oprah Winfrey, 66 years old, is a media mogul, a celebrated actress, and a philanthropist. Forbes estimates her net worth at $2.6 billion.

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Source: Forbes

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Winfrey also ranked No. 10 on Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women. She’s the only Black woman billionaire in the US.

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Source: Forbes


Winfrey endured a turbulent childhood. She spent her early years on her grandmother’s farm, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. At age six, she went to live with her mother in Milwaukee; while her mother was away at work, Winfrey says she was molested multiple times by people including relatives.

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Source: Academy of Achievement


As a teenager, Winfrey moved in with her father, Vernon Winfrey, who imposed strict discipline. Winfrey became an honor student.

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Source: Academy of Achievement


Winfrey’s first media job was at a radio station for the African American community in Nashville, making her the first Black female news anchor in the city.

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She dropped out of Tennessee State University to work at a local TV station, then moved to Baltimore to co-host her first talk show, “People are Talking.” Winfrey said she was sexually harassed there and fired as co-anchor after just 7.5 months.

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Source: Academy of Achievement, Daily Worth


Winfrey was instead placed on a local talk show, interviewing celebrities. “I felt like this is what I’m supposed to do,” Winfrey once said, referring to it as her calling. “All these years I’d been misplaced in news because I couldn’t relate.”

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Her next gig was in Chicago, where she revamped a morning show that was struggling. In September 1985, the program was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

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Source: Academy of Achievement


Winfrey’s acting career began in 1985, when she appeared in “The Color Purple.” She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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By the time Winfrey was 32, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was syndicated on national television.

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In 1988, Oprah launched her own production company, Harpo Productions. (“Harpo” is “Oprah” spelled backwards.) She also negotiated ownership of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which raked in $300 million a year at its peak.

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In the mid ’90s, Winfrey shifted her focus on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Every episode had to be what she considered a “force for good,” highlighting topics like spirituality and raising kids.

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At first, ratings dipped, but this was Winfrey’s way of differentiating herself from all the other talk shows that had sprouted up. “You can only run your own race,” she said on the “Making Oprah” podcast.

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Winfrey reinvested the profits from her talk show into $2 billion, per Forbes estimates. It ran for 25 years, with the final broadcast in 2011, and launched her media and business empire.

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Winfrey went on to launch her own publication, The Oprah Magazine. As of 2018, it had 2.4 million monthly subscribers, making it one of the top women’s magazines in the US.

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She also partnered with Discovery Communications to start a cable channel, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Winfrey’s 25.5% share of the network is worth about $75 million, according to Forbes.

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In 2015, Winfrey also bought 10% of Weight Watchers for $43 million. Her investment is now worth more than $400 million, according to CNN.

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Source: CNN


She’s also on the company’s board and appears in commercials. Potentially thanks to Winfrey’s very visible involvement, Weight Watchers reported a boost in subscriber numbers in 2018.

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Source: CNN


From 2017 to 2019, Winfrey was a special contributor to CBS’ “60 Minutes.” She left after signing a nine-figure deal with Apple for a multi-year content partnership.

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Source: Entertainment Weekly, Apple, Forbes


As part of the deal, she returned to the small screen in 2020 on Apple TV+ for an interview show about COVID-19.

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In the months before the pandemic, Oprah hit the road for her “2020 Vision Tour.” It stopped in nine cities, and tickets ranged from $69.50 to $299.99.

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Source: Oprah Mag


Winfrey ranked on Forbes’ 2020 list of the highest-paid celebrities at No. 91, raking in $37 million between June 2019 and May 2020.

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Source: Forbes, Forbes


Winfrey has a diverse real-estate portfolio. She lives primarily in a Montecito, California, estate that she calls “The Promised Land,” which she reportedly bought for $52 million in 2001. The 23,000-square-foot home has six bedrooms and 10 fireplaces.

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She bought two neighboring properties over the years — including one ranch previously owned by Jeff Bridges — ultimately spending over $86 million total to create a Montecito compound that sits on 70 acres.

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Winfrey has a penchant for island homes. She also owns a home in Antigua.

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Source: Antigua-Barbuda


And she’s spent a reported $40 million snapping up several properties spanning 163 acres in Maui. It’s rumored she even built a secret road to the property.

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Source: Realtor.com


In 2018, she bought a 43-acre estate on Orcas Island in Washington for $8.2 million. It includes a four-bedroom, five-bathroom compound, plus a guesthouse.

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Source: Realtor.com


But some of her vacation homes are more landlocked. She had a custom house built on 66 acres of land she purchased for $10.8 million near Colorado ski town Telluride. She reportedly bought another home in the area for $13.7 million while it was being built.

Foto: Telluride. Source: Shutterstock/Lauren Orr

Source: Realtor.com


And Winfrey has also purchased and sold several multimillion-dollar properties in Illinois, Florida, and Georgia over the years.

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Source: Realtor.com


Oprah has also taken some luxurious vacations, like cruising on board friend David Geffen’s $590 million yacht Rising Sun.

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But Winfrey says her “greatest luxury” is flying private on her own plane. Winfrey paid for that splurge upfront and in full, telling British Vogue editor in chief Edward Enninful. “I wrote that first check — because I can’t stand bills — for my first G4 [jet] for the full $25 million.”

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Source: British Vogue


But for all her indulgences, Winfrey is big on charity. Through the Angel Network, Winfrey has given millions of dollars to charitable causes, including building schools in rural areas across the globe.

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Source: Oprah.com


And she donated $10 million to coronavirus relief efforts, including a new venture to help get food to vulnerable Americans during the pandemic.

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Source: Reuters


She’s also politically active. In fact, many people feel that Barack Obama might not have won the 2008 presidential election without her support.

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Source: Vogue


In a 2017 interview, Winfrey shared with Vogue her main takeaway from hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show”: “There’s not a human being alive who doesn’t want — in any conversation, encounter, experience with another human being — to feel like they matter. And you can resolve any issue if you could just get to what it is that they want — they want to be heard.”

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Source: Vogue