Living on a farm for most of his early years, this Swedish business magnate had always been known for enterprising at a young age as he bought matches in bulk and sold them individually to his neighbors. This expanded to fish, pens, and Christmas decorations. He also used the cash reward that his father gave him for good grades to create a mail-order business that became the retail company IKEA. Furniture became the company’s biggest seller, which made him one of the richest men in the world at a net worth of $3 billion before his death.
Joanne Rowling, a native of Yate, Gloucestershire in England moved to Porto, Portugal in 1990 when her mother died. The seven-year period that followed entailed a divorce from her husband in 1993, a move to Edinburgh, Scotland, and a life with a daughter living on welfare while suffering from clinical depression. During this turbulent chapter in her life, she managed to write “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in 1997. She was able to finish it by writing on scraps of tissue paper from the numerous cafes they visited to let her daughter sleep. With over 400 million books sold and the worldwide success of the Harry Potter franchise, J.K. Rowling’s net worth is now roughly $1 billion.
James Eugene Carrey was born in Ontario, Canada to a middle-income family where his musician father worked as an accountant. Things took a turn for the worse when his father lost his job and they all had to move to Scarborough. Carrey worked at the Titan Wheels Factory for eight hours a day while attending school, but never finished high school. While living in a camper van, he started doing stand-up routines and eventually landed a gig in the sitcom “The Duck Factory.” He first gained recognition in ’90s when he became one of the casts in the sketch comedy “In Living Color.” He later moved on to movies and became one of the highest paid comedians in America.
The son of a Lithuanian immigrant taxi driver, Sheldon Adelson’s mother ran a knitting store from their home. He grew up in a tenement where he shared a bedroom with his parents and three siblings, started selling newspapers at the age of 12, and started his candy-vending machine business at the age of 16. Though he tried his hand at various enterprises from packing hotel toiletries to mortgage brokering his biggest break came from developing a computer trade show. He purchased the Sands Hotel & Casino and later the mega-resort, The Venetian, from the profits of his ventures pegging his net worth today at $21.8 billion.
The Armenian-born Kirk Kerkorian grew up at the time of the Great Depression, where he learned English on the street and dropped out of 8th grade to become an amateur boxer. He became a daredevil pilot for the Royal Air Force during World War II and delivered supplies over the Atlantic flying some of the most perilous routes. After quitting gambling in 1947, he bought some charter planes and also engaged in real estate in Las Vegas in 1962. He became the “father of the mega-resort” when he bought The Flamingo and built the stalwarts of the Las Vegas scene, The International and MGM Grand, which made him worth a few billion dollars.