Many of the world's most famous faces already make a fortune from their day jobs, but when celebrities are able to combine their star power with a high-end spirit, the result can be an incredibly lucrative payday.
Much like fashion and skin care lines, celebrity liquor brands are a dime a dozen, but there are several people who have been able to turn their side projects into big money makers. From Ryan Reynolds to Jay-Z, TODAY Food broke down which celebs have successfully ventured into this highly popular industry.
In 2017, George Clooney sold his tequila company Casamigos to spirits and beer giant Diageo for a whopping $700 million. As part of the deal, the actor and his co-owners also stand to make an additional $300 million if the tequila continues to sell like hot cakes over the next 10 years, according to CNBC.
Casamigos Tequila began as a side project for Clooney and his friend Rande Gerber (who is married to supermodel Cindy Crawford) when the two were building neighboring vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After enjoying many of the local tequila varieties for a few months, the two friends paired up with another pal, Michael Meldman, and found a local distiller to make a tequila that they would enjoy serving to their friends and family.
When the friends ended up ordering around 1,000 bottles a year for two consecutive years, their distiller informed them that they'd have to license their product. The business partners introduced their brand to the public in 2013, but Clooney never actually expected the company would grow so quickly.
“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney told CNBC in 2017. “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo. But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two.”
The "Deadpool" star became a co-owner of Aviation American Gin in 2018, but just two years later, he's going to see a big return on his investment. On Monday, industry giant Diageo announced it would be acquiring the company, along with the other brands in the Davos Brands portfolio, for a whopping $610 million. As part of the deal, Reynolds will retain "an ongoing ownership interest" in the company, according to a press release.
Reynolds and other shareholders will split an initial payment of $335 million and the potential to earn up to an additional $257 million, depending on how the brand performs over the next 10 years.
“A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring," Reynolds said in a statement. "Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with."
Bethenny Frankel turned her stint on "The Real Housewives of New York City" into a multi-million dollar empire that includes multiple books and an ultra-popular line of low-calorie snacks, dressings and treats. The entrepreneur first ventured into the liquor realm in 2009 when she launched a pre-packaged line of diet-friendly margaritas called Skinnygirl. Frankel quickly expanded her brand to include low-calorie vodkas, ready-to-serve cocktails and different types of wine.
In 2011, Beam Global Spirits & Wine acquired the Skinnygirl spirits brand and, while the terms of the agreement weren't shared publicly, Forbes estimated that Frankel took home $120 million for the deal. According to CNN, she also retained the rights to use the Skinnygirl moniker for non-alcoholic products. She's certainly cashed in on that part of the deal in recent years, launching a myriad of items in the clothing, food and beauty spaces.
Similar to Reynolds and Clooney, Sean "Puffy" Combs (P. Diddy) has found his partnership with Diageo to be quite lucrative. The rapper first entered into a 50-50 joint venture with the company in 2007 to help promote Ciroc vodka in the United States.
The rapper solidified his partnership with Diageo in 2014 when he joined forces with the company to buy DeLeón tequila in a new venture. Shortly after the announcement went public, Forbes estimated that the entertainer's Ciroc deal brought his personal worth to $700 million.
Part of Jay-Z's billion-dollar fortune comes from his savvy dealings in the liquor industry. The rapper purchased the champagne brand Armand de Brignac in 2014, but he's actually been associated with the high-end label since 2006 when he helped launch it with his music video for the song "Show Me What You Got."
In 2019, Forbes reported that the rapper's investment in the company amounts to $310 million, which might not be too surprising given that the brand is known for its $300 bottles of champagne. Jay-Z has also reportedly garnered $100 million from D’Ussé, a cognac joint venture he has with Bacardi.