The story of Oprah Winfrey exemplifies the American Dream. After growing up in poverty, Oprah lifted herself up and turned her innate talent as a communicator into a $3 billion multimedia empire led by the 25-year run of her Oprah Winfrey Show. Along the way, she created her own production company, launched her Oprah Winfrey Network, and became the richest self-made woman in America.
Oprah's business acumen has enabled her to accumulate a vast fortune. In the Motley Fool's role to amuse and enrich, we decided to take a look at some ways that Oprah could deploy her billions if she chose to do so. Here are just a few things we found that Oprah could buy with her multibillion-dollar net worth.
1. Martha Stewart's empire -- 15 times over
Oprah isn't the only woman who has turned television notoriety into a business empire: Martha Stewart became the first female self-made billionaire in the U.S. with her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (UNKNOWN:MSO.DL) went public in 1999. Since then, though, Martha Stewart Living's fortunes have dwindled, and given its market cap of just $200 million, Oprah could buy it out with less than 7% of her current net worth.
2. Oprah goes to the opera
Oprah's name is subject to plenty of creative misspellings -- her production company is called Harpo Productions -- but if she had an ear for the opera, she could easily make a clear expression of support. The New York Metropolitan Opera had a budget of $311 million in 2013, giving Oprah enough money to support nine years' worth of programming at the Met.
3. Playing hoops Oprah-style
Oprah reportedly considered buying the Los Angeles Clippers when they went up for sale earlier this year. Even with the $2 billion price tag that former Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer ended up paying, Oprah could have covered it all by herself. Indeed, according to earlier estimates from Forbes that clearly didn't reflect the bidding war for the Clippers, Oprah could afford to buy the Chicago Bulls three times over or opt for the two-coast threat of both the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
4. Enough Oprah Chai Tea to float a boat
Earlier this year, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) came out with its Teavana Oprah Chai Tea. At $120 per pound, the blend of black tea, rooibos, and infused spices doesn't come cheap, but Oprah could afford 25 million pounds of her namesake blend -- enough to make 5 billion cups of tea. Or, if she'd prefer to pay retail price of around $4 per cup, Oprah's billions could still purchase almost 100 million gallons of chai. Starbucks itself would be too big for even Oprah to swallow, although she could afford to buy a 5% stake in the coffee giant.
5. A marathon session for 25 million runners
In 1994, Oprah ran the Marine Corps Marathon, finishing with a time of 4:29:20. Given the 2014 marathon's entry fee of $110, Oprah could afford to invite 25 million of her closest friends to run the race with her -- although the limit on entries this year was just 30,000.
6. Ten big islands
Oprah has a home in Hawaii, but if she wanted to get ambitious with her tropical adventure, following in the footsteps of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison could be more in line with her net worth. A couple of years ago, Ellison bought about 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million, giving him almost complete control over the 141-square-mile island. Lanai is one-of-a-kind, but Oprah's wealth would give her similar opportunities in attractive locations around the world if she were so inclined.
7. A college education for 100,000 Tennessee students
Oprah went to college at Tennessee State University. Given its current fees of $3,465 per semester for a 12-hour course load, Oprah could afford to put 100,000 students through school for four years.
8. More than 75,000 luxury handbags -- if anyone would sell them to her
In 2013, Oprah said that a sales clerk in Switzerland refused to show her a handbag priced at $38,000, and she raised allegations of racism and discrimination despite denials from the shop owner in question. Yet with her fortune, Oprah could have bought 75,000 bags at that price.
9. More than 6,000 barber shops -- even if only one is her dad's
Two years ago, Oprah paid $475,000 to buy her father Vernon's barber shop, which was threatened by foreclosure. The episode created a rift in Oprah's family and coincided with divorce proceedings between Vernon and his wife. But it didn't put a dent in Oprah's wallet, representing less than 0.02% of her net worth.