7 Perfect Real Life Examples of Rags to Riches

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As visible by its name rags to riches is a situation in which someone rises from poverty to wealth or from absolute obscurity to height of fame and fortune whether instantly or with the passes of time.  We can find numerous stories of rags to riches that encourage us to do better every day.  Here are some inspirational stories of few persons who started from dirt poor and achieved wealth and heights of fame with utmost determination, hard work, and a little bit of luck.

1. Apple’s Co-founder Steve Jobs

rags to riches stories
Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson

Steve Jobs has set a benchmark of the height of fame and wealth.  Though there is no need for introduction of this American business magnate, still we are going to share a few things about him in case you missed them. 

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, to two Wisconsin graduation students in San Francisco, California.  They gave him up for adoption.  He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.  When he was a boy, Jobs worked on electronics in his family garage with this father.  Jobs was innovative thinker so he felt boredom in formal schooling and dropped out of college degree.  Steve Jobs (at the age of 21) and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computers in 1976 in his family garage.  In just four years, Apple Computer had the worth $1.2 billion.

For the next five years, the company faced downfall and Jobs left the company in 1985 and founded another company named NeXT.  Apple Computer bought it in 1996 for $429 million.  Jobs returned to Apple as a CEO in 1997.  iMac, Mackbook Air, iPod, iPhone are some of the well-known products of the company that were launched after Jobs returned to the company.  Apple topped the Fortune Magazine’s list of “America’s Most Admired Companies” in 2008.        

Jobs purchased Pixar Animation Studios in 1986.  It merged with Walt Disney in 2006 and made Jobs the largest shareholder of the company.

Jobs discovered cancer in 2003.  He got a surgery done successfully for the pancreatic tumour in 2004.  But in January 2011 he announced medical leave and in August 2011 made Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Computers as he resigned.  On October 5, 2011, at the age of 56, he died after battling Pancreatic Cancer.  Forbes estimated net worth of the company in 2011 of about $6.5- $7 billion.   


2. Larry Ellison

The Jet-setting billionaire of Oracle, Larry Ellison can be considered as the best example of rags to riches story which shows his rise from slums to a billionaire.  He is one of the most interesting techies.  He owns a whole Hawaiian Island, loves Yacht racing and surprises the world with something new now and then. 

Bon on August 17, 1944, to a single mother Larry was adopted by Lillian and Louis Ellison.  He dropped out twice form graduation degree.  While bouncing from job to job he learnt programming skills.  Ellison along with his partners Bob Miner and Ed Oates founded ‘Software Development Laboratories’ in 1977 later it becomes ‘Oracle Systems’ in 1982.  The company deals in CRM database field.  In September 2014, he stepped down as Oracle CEO.  At present, he is the Chairman as well as CTO of Oracle Corporation.  Forbes estimated his wealth $78.2 Billion as on 03.09.2020.         


3. Howard Schultz

rags to riches story
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

Who does not know Starbucks Coffee chain?  It has set a trademark in the field of tastiest coffee.  Starbucks was opened in 1971 with a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  Howard Schultz first visited Starbucks store in 1981 and fell in love with the coffee offered.  After a year in 1982, he joined the company as Director of Retail Operations and Marketing.  Between 1981 and 1987 he left Starbucks for a very short period and found own coffeehouses.  In 1987 he purchased Starbucks with the help of local investors.  He expanded the company from 11 stores to more than 30,000 stores worldwide.  Howard stepped down from the position of Executive Chairman and board member.  He is chairman emeritus of the company now.      


4. Oprah Winfrey

from poor to rich celebrity story
Image Credit: Malik Shabazz

Known as the first black female billionaire Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, actress and philanthropist.  She got fame by hosting her talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ from 1986 to 2011.  The show was internationally popular.  She also launched her TV network known as ‘Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)’ in 2011.  She was born on January 29, 1954, in a rural town Kosciusko, Mississippi in a small farming community.  After troubled adolescence, she moved to his father in Nashville. 

After entering Tennessee State University in 1971, Oprah started working with radio and TV broadcasting.  After hosting ‘People are Talking’ and ‘A.M. Chicago’ for several years, Oprah finally got the chance to host her talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ in 1986.  She launched “Oprah’s Book Club” as part of her show that helped many new authors to get popularity.  She bought 10% stakes of Weight Watchers in 2015 and also became an advisor in the board. 

She launched Oxygen Media in 1999 and her highly popular magazine ‘O: The Oprah Magazine’ in 2000.  Winfrey also campaigned for Barack Obama in 2007.  She has become the first African female winner of the Golden Globe Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.  She also acted in the movie ‘The Color Purple’ in 1985.  Oprah launched a food line named “O That’s Good” in 2017.  Oprah’s total wealth is around $2.5 billion according to Forbes.


Also Read: 5 Most Famous Autodidacts who Shocked the World


5. Charlie Chaplin

rags to riches artists

Almost everyone in the world knows this versatile comic hero for his acting skills in the era of silent movies.  Born to vocalist and actor couple in 1889, Charles Spencer Chaplin was forced to survive on his own by the circumstance.  The early death of his father and illness of mother made 10 years old Charlie Chaplin and his brother Sydney to fend on his own. 

Charlie made his professional debut in the juvenile group “The Eight Lancashire Lads” and became famous for his tap-dancing moves.  He got the first chance of acting as ‘Billy’ at the age of 12 and then worked for the different production of the famous act ‘Sherlock Holmes’.  He entered the cinema world and agreed to face the camera when he joined Mack Sennett and the Keystone Film Company.  In 1917 after completing 12 two-reel comedies, he became a producer.  1918’s comedy production ‘Shoulder Arms’ made him immensely popular during that time.               

‘A Woman of Paris, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, Limelight, The King in New York are some of the best examples of his career.  He also tried writing, music and sports.  He authored “My Autobiography”, “A Comedian See the World”, “My Trip Abroad”, and “My Life in Pictures”.  He died on 25th December 1977.  From no one to the height of fame, this is the story of the greatest comedian in the world.


6. J.K. Rowling

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Who does not know the lady behind the popular book series “Harry Potter”?  I think no one falls in the category.  J.K. Rowling (Joanne Rowling) was born on July 31, 1965 near Bristol.  She grew up in England and South-East Wales.  Peter, her father, was an aircraft engineer and Anne, her mother, was a science technician.  She grew up surrounded by books.  She once said, “I lived up for books”.  She wrote “Rabbit” at the age of six and a novel about seven cursed diamonds at the age of 11. 

She had an idea of writing “Harry Potter” in 1990.  She married Jorge Arantes in 1992 and had a daughter named Jessica in 1993 and separated from her husband in the year.  She continued writing the book through all long.  In June 1997, the book was published under the name J.K. Rowling by Bloomsbury Children’s Book.  The book was adapted for filming by Warner Bros. in 2001 and followed by six more books adaptation of the series. 

In 2012, Rowling launched a digital company “Pottermore” which later named as Wizarding World Digital in 2019.  Besides these children books, she also wrote a novel for adults and some crime novels too.  Her recent book is published in September 2020 named “Troubled Blood”.  She has received many awards for her literary.  Rowling has been married to Dr. Neil Murray since 2001.          


7. Lakshmi Mittal

rags to riches entrepreneurs stories
Image Credit: Financial Times

The Steel Tycoon, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal holds $9.9 Billion wealth according to Forbes.  Life does not give bed of roses to everyone and so was with Lakshmi Mittal as he came from the modest beginnings in India.  He was born on 15 June 1950 in Rajasthan in a house with no electricity and drinking water. 

Steel business was started by his father Mohanlal Mittal in Kolkata but Lakshmi started ‘Mittal Steel’ in Indonesia in 1976.   The company merged with Arcelor in 2006.  It produces a tenth of the world’s total steel and generated heavy revenues.  He was the third richest person in the world as estimated in 2005. 

He is famous for his luxurious lifestyle by owning three mansions.  He had a luxurious wedding of his daughter in 2004.  Moreover, he owns a couple of Yacht and a private jet.  Aditya Mittal, Lakshmi Mittal’s son is the president of ArcelorMittal and Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, his daughter is the board member of the company. 

These are few of the names of some inspirational personalities which best suits the example of Rags to Riches.  The list is quite long if we discuss some more examples as Leonardo Del Vecchio, the world’s largest maker of prescription eyewear as well as sunglasses such as Ray-Ban and Oakley;  Ralph Lauren, the dreamer of Men’s ties; Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire of America recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records; and so on. 

Geetesh.S

Hi , I am a computer engineering graduate and a professional Digital Marketing Expert.

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