By Michelle Smith
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Here are some surprising investments made by millionaires and billionaires, along with details on why they ponied up their cash.
You might look to Madonna for music tips or Barack Obama for inspiration. But would you turn to these rich and famous folks for financial advice?
Not only do many of your favorite celebs invest in the stock market, but they also make some surprising choices when deciding where their money goes. While some of those investments pay off, others leave these rich folks’ wallets a few dollars lighter.
ASHTON KUTCHER: CASPER
Net worth: $200 Million
Actor Ashton Kutcher is famous for his role on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men,” and he has also gained quite a reputation as an investor. According to Entrepreneur, a number of startups have emerged in the mattress industry, and Kutcher jumped on board the trend with an investment in Casper, a bed-in-a-box company.
Casper launched in 2014 with a strategy to control costs and drive profit by selling from its website.
That meant no brick-and-mortar overhead and no salesperson salaries. In just over a year, the company sold more than 50,000 mattresses. Sales in 2015 reached $100 million, and the company was on track to make twice that sum in 2016, according to an article from CNN Money. Today, the company sells pillows, sheets, duvets and dog beds in addition to its trademark mattresses.
Although it’s not odd for an investor to jump on a hot opportunity, Kutcher’s track record classifies him as a tech investor. Investing in home furnishings is an entirely different ballgame.
BARACK OBAMA: SMITH & WESSON
Net worth: $40 Million
Former President Obama is so passionate about ending gun violence that he cried during a 2016 announcement of an executive action related to gun control. Yet he is invested in gun and ammunition companies through the Illinois General Assembly’s pension plan, which he joined as a senator, Reuters reported. Obama’s net worth was $12.2 million when he left office this year.
Gun stocks have been a hot pick in recent years, and managed money has piled on the bandwagon. Gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, one of the stocks Obama’s pension plan invested in, enjoyed net sales of $722.91 million in 2016, according to Statista. It was recently trading at $21 per share.
If you’re hoping to find a job with a pension plan, remember that you do not have control over where that money is invested. And that is true even if you are president of the United States.
CURTIS JACKSON, AKA 50 CENT: GUNNAR OPTIKS
Net worth: $15 Million
50 Cent gained fame as a rapper, but he has also made some savvy investments over the years. His deals include the $100 million he earned from his Vitaminwater investment and a project-development agreement with Starz.
Additionally, Jackson invested in a company called Gunnar Optiks, which makes protective glasses designed to reduce eye strain, a condition that affects people who stare at computer screens all day.
Although 50 Cent did not disclose how much he invested, he has said he believes Gunnar has the potential to be a billion-dollar company. However, in 2015, the rapper filed for bankruptcy, suggesting that the company did not make him billions, at least.
It is common for celebrities to invest in fashion and accessories. But it’s less common to find a star focused on gear that addresses occupational health issues.
JOHN KERRY: CONOCOPHILLIPS
Net worth: $194 Million
Former Secretary of State John Kerry is a vocal critic of fossil fuels and has warned of the economic and human costs they impose. He also said clean energy is the biggest economic opportunity the world has ever seen, according to a Huffington Post report.
For that reason, it is surprising that in 2015, Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, disclosed trust investments in 94 companies that explore for, extract, store and transport oil, coal and other fossil fuels.
Among them is ConocoPhillips, which was ordered to pay a group of aquaculture farmers $266,000 in 2015 for an oil spill off the coast of China in 2011.
Meanwhile, the couple was only invested in four companies involved in alternative renewable energy and energy-reduction efforts in 2016, according to The Daily Caller.
WARREN BUFFETT: APPLE
Net worth: $75 Billion
According to Fortune, Warren Buffett bought 72 million shares of Apple in January 2017. This is after his company Berkshire Hathaway revealed a $1.1 billion stake in Apple in 2016. The move isn’t too surprising, given that the company’s shares are up 25 percent year-to-date.
In general, Berkshire Hathaway tends to steer clear of technology stocks. Buffett has a long-standing rule of investing in things he can wrap his mind around, such as See’s Candies and insurance company Geico. Apparently, the Oracle of Omaha is getting technical.
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