Curtis Jackson has made so much money that the name most people know him by -- 50 Cent -- needs to be upgraded with a few zeros.
Jackson, who became famous as a rapper, has transcended his initial profession and it's fair to call him a businessman and an entrepreneur. Now, along with putting out his own music and owning the G Unit record label, the musician/businessperson also has a clothing line and a headphones brand. Jackson, a fitness fiend who does not drink -- though he does endorse a line of vodka -- also parlayed his fitness and his fondness for a certain brand of vitamin-enhanced beverage into his biggest score.
The "In Da Club" singer may not have the riches of Jay Z or Sean "Diddy" Combs, but he has amassed a fortune well beyond the money he made rapping. Rapping may have made him famous, but he became rich by being shrewd in ways that go well beyond what he expressed in lyrics like the ones below from his song "Make Money By Any Means" from his 2000 album Power of the Dollar.
It ain't easy to make money (Whoo)
So now everybody wanna take money (Uh huh, uh huh)
You ain't a thug, matter fact you a fake money (Take money, uh)
The rapper continues that sentiment with more lines (which we can't print in a family friendly financial publication). Jackson actually raps about money a lot, and, while his songs may be a bit crass, 50 Cent has parlayed an R-rated rap career into a pile of riches.
It all goes back to health
50 Cent had already begun his climb from rapper to businessman when Rohan Oza, a marketing executive who had left Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) for Glaceau, a comparatively small beverage company, saw Jackson in an ad for his Reebok sneaker line, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the spot, Jackson was drinking Vitaminwater, a product he "had a true love" for, the paper wrote.
At the time, Glaceau was testing a new flavor of Vitaminwater which was already named "Formula 50." The rapper was asked to endorse the brand, but he, along with manager Chris Lighty, had a bigger vision. They wanted the performer to own a piece of the brand if he was going to help build it. The Journal detailed how that deal went down.
In the weeks and months thereafter, Lighty and Oza hammered out the terms of a deal. 50 Cent would take a stake in the privately owned company, one that would graduate over time and escalate if the company hit certain numbers. The two entities - 50 Cent on one hand and Glaceau on the other - signed an agreement of mutual confidentiality. Still, word got around that Lighty had negotiated something close to, but not more than, 10% of the value of the company.
That agreement would take Jackson from being a successful rapper to being very wealthy. In May 2007, Coca-Cola bought Glaceau for $4.1 billion. If you use the 10% figure, then Jackson would have received $400 million, but, due to various complications, the number was somewhat lower. "When all the other costs had been deducted, 50 Cent was thought to have walked away with a figure somewhere between $60 million and $100 million," according to the Journal.
More than just Vitaminwater
While the Glaceau deal was Jackson's biggest, the rapper/entrepreneur also has a deal to promote EFFEN vodka, a clothing line, a headphone deal with SMS Audio (where a portion of sales go toward feeding hungry kids), and, of course, his label and music career.
The rapper also famously purchased a Farmington, Connecticut mansion once owned by boxer Mike Tyson. A palace of excess, the 50,000 square foot home has 52 rooms, 28 bathrooms, a screening room, and a casino. It has been featured on Oprah's Next Chapter and MTV's Cribs.
Jackson, who paid Tyson just over $4 million for the property, had tried to sell it at prices nearing $20 million, then discounted it to just under $10 million in order to finally sell it.
A very rich man
Though some reports have Jackson being worth as much as half a billion dollars, those come from getting his actual take on the Glaceau deal wrong. In reality, Forbes was probably correct in 2014 when it named Jackson as one of hip-hop's five wealthiest artists, pegging his fortune at around $140 million.
That placed him behind Combs, Dr. Dre (who will almost certainly top the 2015 list after his Beats line was sold to Apple), Jay Z, and Cash Money Records founder Bryan "Birdman" Williams.
Jackson may not be on top, but based on his business acumen, it's possible he could climb the list in coming years and parlay his $140 million fortune into much more.
Daniel Kline owns shares of Apple. He does not care for 50 Cent's music. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.