« Should the ultra-rich pay more taxes? | Main | How to make your own luck »

January 07, 2022

Ted Williams and more rags-to-riches tales

By now, most of you have heard the cool story of Ted Williams, the homeless Ohio man with the “Golden Voice.”

Ist1_539933-rags-to-riches Thanks to a video-gone-viral from the Columbus Dispatch, who filmed the panhandling Williams displaying his broadcast-ready pipes while begging for change roadside, the 53-year-old has since rocketed to celebrity. He’s made the media rounds, appearing on the Today  show and, just Thursday night, as a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Yet while the recovering addict’s tale is certainly uplifting – Williams has already performed paid voiceover work for Kraft and has been offered a full-time job by the Cleveland Cavaliers – it’s hardly the first rags-to-riches narrative to capture the public. On the Friday before a weekend, MSN takes a look back at other famous stories of fortune sprouting from the least likely circumstances.

J.K. Rowling – The "Harry Potter" author hasn’t always lived comfortably. Before her fame and riches, Rowling was a single mom living in Scotland with clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. Then, of course, her smash-hit novels caught on, catapulting her off welfare and into popular culture forever. After seven books and (to date) as many movies, Rowling is worth more than a billion dollars today.

Jim Carrey – Hey, we know Jim Carrey, right? He’s the Canadian funnyman who went to Hollywood and made it big. True, yet what’s not often known about the Dumb & Dumber  star is that he once lived with his family in a camper van as his parents tried to hold steady work. Carrey, who worked eight hours a day while attending school to help keep his family afloat, has now made films that have grossed well over $2 billion during his career.

Larry Ellison – Born to a single teenage mother in the Bronx, Ellison was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Chicago, where he would drop out of college before graduating. In 1977, though, the ambitious Ellison would found Oracle, which has grown into one of the world’s biggest software companies. The tech giant, who earned a startling $130 million in 2009 alone, now boasts a net worth of $28 billion, according to Forbes.

Oprah Winfrey – Perhaps the most notorious rags-to-riches story, media mogul Winfrey truly did start with nothing. Born to unwed teenage parents in rural Mississippi, Winfrey bounced around the U.S. where, as a nine-year-old, she was raped. She would give birth at 14 to a baby that died in its infancy, though from there Winfrey took off. The talk show host landed a job in radio while she was still in high school, and the rest is history. Her media empire, valued now at $2.7 billion, boasts her mega-popular show, a magazine and OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...