#10 Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell quit school at age 16 and took a job in the mailroom of record company EMI. By age 23 he left the company to start his own record label, called Fanfare. His production company, SyCo, produced American Idol and the X Factor. Cowell is now worth $550 million.
#9 Carl Lindner
Carl Linder dropped out of high school to deliver milk for his family’s dairy farm. Lindner took a $1,200 loan to open an ice cream shop with his siblings in 1940. By 1959, Lindner had moved on to savings and loan companies, and then insurance companies, assembling them under one wealthy banner. Lindner purchased the Cincinnati Reds. He also bought United Foods in 1984, turned it into United Dairy Farmers and made $1.7 billion – an empire made of ice cream and convenience stores.
#8 Jay Z
Jay Z, who was born Shawn Carter, dropped out of school to be a drug dealer. He found success as a rapper and media mogul. Carter spent three years at the helm of Def Jam records and made a massive deal with Live Nation in 2008 that made him more than $150 million. His record and touring sales, marriage to Beyonce, and endorsements gave him a net worth of more than $500 million.
#7 David Karp
David Karp dropped out of high school at age 15 and became the founder of Tumblr, which he started from his bedroom in Manhattan. The Tumblr platform sold to Yahoo for more than $1 billion, and Karp’s net worth is estimated to be over $200 million.
#6 George Foreman
It took boxer George Foreman a lifetime to hit it big, but when he sold the naming rights to grill manufacturer Salton in 1999, Foreman scored his greatest knockout: a $138 million fortune. Foreman dropped out of high school, then met a mentor through Lyndon Johnson’s Jobs Corps program, who encouraged the big Texan to box. Foreman won a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics.
#5 Gisele Bundchen
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen just retired from modeling. She quit high school at age 14 when she was discovered in a shopping mall in Brazil. Bundchen banked nearly $400 million in modeling engagements, product endorsements and other deals, making her worth far more than her husband Tom Brady.
#4 Vidal Sassoon
Stylist Vidal Sassoon was raised in a Jewish orphanage until he was 11 years old and reunited with his mother. Sassoon quit high school at age 14 and apprenticed to a hairdresser. In the 1960s he started his own salon and invented the bob, which became a sensation. Sassoon created his own hair products and became a stylist to the stars. When he died in 2012, his personal wealth was at least $130 million.
#3 Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino quit school at age 15 and then took a job as an usher at an adult film theater while he took acting classes. Tarantino also worked at a video store for years, while he perfected his screenplays True Romance and Natural Born Killers. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs put him on the map and he is worth more than $100 million.
#2 Joe Lewis
Joe Lewis is a British businessman who spends most of the year working from his yacht. He originally left high school at age 15 in order to run his father’s catering business. He founded a medical community in Lake Nona near Orlando, the fastest growing community in the world. He owns more than 150 companies including the Tottenham football team and several resorts. He is worth over $4 billion.
#1 Richard Branson
Outspoken founder of Virgin, Richard Branson, ditched school at age 15. He is now worth more than $4.5 billion through his airline, record company and many investments. Branson has spoken out about the uselessness of college and is the world’s 272nd richest man.