Fame and fortune may go hand in hand for some celebrities, but the latter doesn’t always look the way you think.
Entertainers, athletes and artists alike have leveraged their name, image and likeness to secure brand deals (as they should) but it’s not out of loyalty to the companies they work with—they’re incredibly lucrative.
As ESSENCE, previously reported, celebrity endorsements are not a new practice, but the influencer industry has undoubtedly grown into quite the behemoth over the years. The market has ballooned from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.7 billion in 2020. In 2021, it grew to $13.8 billion and projected to reach over $16.4 billion.
What’s more, these windfalls are setting our favorite stars up for incredible wealth in a way that, according to them, their talent alone never would.
Here are a few instances of celebs getting real about their endorsement deals and their day jobs.
The talented singer, songwriter and pianist has been candid about fighting for a chance to break into the music industry before finally finding stardom. She was able to showcase her talent after years of perseverance, and scored big with her 2014 hit album Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart, among others.
But she shared her deal with spirits company Jack Daniels was what really brought her the most financial success.
In an interview with The Shade Room, she candidly shares “I’ve never owned anything. I’ve never got no money from none of my gifts.” She adds, “I like to say, ‘I’m the first Black ever endorsed by Jack Daniel’s.’ I made more money and learned more business from Jack Daniel’s than I made with any music.”
The LSU basketball darling took the world by storm after leading her team to victory earlier this year, she quickly racked up NIL (name, image, likeness) deals with major companies including Bose, JanSport, McDonald’s, Outback Steakhouse, Xfinity, among others. She reportedly pulled in more than $1.6M in less than one year from the partnerships.
In a recent interview with sports podcast I Am Athlete, Angel Reese who is a star player for the Louisiana State University Tigers said “The money I’m making is more than some of the people that are in the league that might be top players.”
The rapstress has solidified herself as one the industry’s brightest stars following the success of Bodak Yellow. Over the years, she has famously partnered with various brands like Reebok, Pepsi, Balenciaga and Steve Madden, and notes that the her day job as an artist is sometimes tough to navigate because of predatory intentions.
In a 2021 interview with XXL, she points out that an entity might offer her $2 million despite profiting $50 or $100 million. “I just feel like if you want to keep hiring me, I figured that you’re making a lot of money out of me. I just feel like that little two million, that little three million, I mean, sometimes even a little five million, ’cause I get five [million], $10 million deals. I just feel like, you gotta be making triple,” Cardi said.
In a 2022 interview with ESSENCE, she also addressed criticisms that she was more focused on securing deals than making music.
“Sometimes people are like, ‘Cardi’s not focused on her music. She’s just trying to make money with all these partnerships and business stuff. That is not true. I am focused on my music, but I have to make sure that I make a future for my kids. I always have a fear that, God forbid, you never know if something happens to me I want them to be set. God forbid, when something happens to people they have to wait for music to sell, I want my kids — if something happens to me, they’ve got money coming from music, they’ve got a little money coming from here because I have equity there. They’ve got money coming from there because I have equity here.”
The King Of Pop has even acknowledged the inequities in the music business despite dominating for most of his life.
In 2002, he accused his record label of racist behavior and shared he thought they didn’t promote his album enough. “The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists — they steal, they cheat, they do everything they can. [Especially] against the black artists.”
The artist had famously landed major endorsement deals with Pepsi, LA Gear, Suzuki, and Sony among others.