How She Made Her Pile

Oprah Winfrey, American TV Personality and Media Businesswoman

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Who is she? She's the godmother of American chat shows and was America's first black female billionaire.

How did she make her millions? Originally a news anchor, Winfrey began hosting AM Chicago in the early '80s, and made it her own. Renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, it grossed $125 million in its first year of US syndication.

Winfrey took $30 million and, through her Harpo company, won control of the show. She also owns O: The Oprah Magazine (circulation 2.7 million) and holds stakes in other media companies, including Viacom.

The secret of her success? Early viewers saw Winfrey as one of their own, and she moulded her image to ensure that trust grew with her status.

Last year, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina became a US bestseller after she recommended it in her Book Club, a power she has cashed in on. When Oxygen Media asked her to produce shows for them, she agreed - in exchange for an equity stake.

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