When it comes to success, most people aren’t born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth. Even most of the world’s high-profile celebrities paid their dues before becoming top-paid athletes, actors, and musicians. Before becoming A-list stars, big-names such as Serena Williams, Courtney Cox, and Rami Malek were average folks, dreaming of a big paycheck.
Then, a day came when these stars received their first big paycheck and were able to splurge on cars, houses, and believe it or not, candy, for the first time in their lives. From Snickers bars to blue electric guitars, these celebrities went all-out on their first big paycheck purchases.
Lil Nas X: A Bowling Party For His Entire Family
The “Old Town Road” singer, Lil Nas X, made it big in 2019 when the hit single made it big on the social media platform TikTok. From there, the song went viral, climbing the international music charts and becoming diamond-certified later that same year.
When Insider asked the rapper how he spent his first big paycheck, he had a very wholesome answer. Lil Nas X said, “I took my family bowling. Like, everybody. It was a lot of us, not just my immediate family.” It looks like the artist can bring the family on a lot more outings, since he is worth nine million dollars, as of 2019.
Madelaine Petsch: A Rose Gold Cartier Ring
Within a few short years, actress Madelaine Petsch became a golden-girl of the CW, an ambassador for Biore, and a designer for the athletic apparel company Fabletics. Making her big break in 2014, landing the role of Cheryl Blossom on the hit CW TV series Riverdale, the actress is now worth four million dollars.
When Teen Vogue asked when she spent her first big paycheck, she couldn’t help but talk about her nerves. During the interview, she said, “My first big splurge was this rose gold Cartier ring. I called my mom — I was super nervous to buy it.” Now, she buys one at the start of each season.
Rupert Grint: An Ice Cream Truck
Rupert Grint won the lottery when he landed the role of Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise. As a child actor, he made $70 million from Harry Potter base salaries alone, earning $30 million for both parts of the Deathly Hallows. As of 2019, Grint is worth $50 million.
With all of that money, Grint decided to live out of childhood dream of his: buying an ice cream truck. After being stopped by many kids wanting ice cream, Grint finally bought a Mr. Whippy ice cream dispenser and some popsicles, handing them out to children in London free of charge.
Shaquille O’Neal: Three Cars And Some Swag
When it comes to young professional athletes, Shaquille O’Neal is all about giving lessons in finance. The former basketball star says to remember two things: sales tax and FICA. His advice comes from personal experience since he blew one million dollars of his first paycheck in a single day.
During an interview with Business Insider, O’Neal explained how he bought himself a Mercedes. Then, he went and bought his mother and father their own respective Mercedes! But that wasn’t it, to complete the day’s purchases, he bought a lot of expensive “rings and diamonds and earrings.” Thankfully, he realized he needed a business manager and is now worth $400 million.
Donald Glover: Candy He Wasn’t Allowed To Eat As a Child
Donald Glover, or Childish Gambino, landed his first entertainment job at the age of 23, writing with Tina Fey for the comedy series 30 Rock. He later rose to fame for his acting on the show Community and later Atlanta, the latter of which he won two Emmys and two Golden Globe.
Considering the actor and singer is now worth $35 million, it’s interesting to see what he spent his first big paycheck on. When asked during an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Glover said, “I had more money than all my friends, but I didn’t spend it well. Gushers. I wasn’t allowed to have candy as a kid.”
America Ferrera: 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage
Golden Globe-winner America Ferrera found modest success at a young age, starring in various teen films such as Gotta Kick it Up! and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Today, Ferrera is mostly found on the NBC comedy Superstore, where she makes an estimated $125,000 per episode.
Before she had a net worth of $16 million, though, she was a young girl getting her first big paycheck from the Disney Channel Original Movie Gotta Kick it Up! When asked by InStyle what she’d bought, Ferrera explained why she purchased a 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage, saying, “Getting your own car in L.A. is a huge right of passage.”
Courtney Cox: A Car To Get To And From The Friends Set
Courtney Cox was a 90s actress through and through. She went from finding mild success in a Bruce Springsteen video on primetime television, to landing the role of a lifetime as Monica Geller in one of the most beloved sitcoms of all-time, Friends. Starting with a base salary of around $22,00 per episode, she eventually made one million by season ten.
Like her character, Cox made a level-headed decision when choosing to spend her first Friends paycheck on a car. Since the show was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, a car was a must-have in order to get to and from set easily. Cox is now worth $120 million.
Matt LeBlanc: A Hot Dinner
Actor Matt LeBlanc didn’t find “success” as quickly as his other Friends co-stars. While he did land a reoccurring role on Married… With Children and a Heinz Ketchup commercial under his belt, LeBlanc only had $11 to his name when he auditioned for the popular sitcom.
Like the rest of his co-stars, LeBlanc’s first paycheck was around $22,000. So, what did the broke actor do right away with the money? He went and bought himself a hot dinner. Now, the actor is worth $80 million. It’s safe to say he won’t go hungry any time soon.
Kelly Rowland: Groceries For A Big Party
Singer Kelly Rowland got her start in the entertainment industry as one of three women in the group Destiny’s Child. The group gained mild mainstream recognition after the release of their first studio album The Writing’s on the Wall, and Rowland now had some “Bills, Bills, Bills,” to spend.
When asked what she spent her first big paycheck on during an interview with InStyle, the singer said, “When I got one of my first paychecks, I went to the grocery store and bought almost everything that my mom used to tell me was too expensive…had a party at my house, and everybody ate up everything.”
Nicole Kidman: A Washing Machine For Her Parents
Nicole Kidman is one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood. She has more than one critically acclaimed film under her belt, including the 2002 drama The Hours, where she played Virginia Woolf. This performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. But it was Bush Christmas that landed Kidman her first big paycheck.
When asked what she bought with her first big paycheck, Kidman told TIME, “I bought my mom and dad a washing machine. Later on, I bought some boots for myself that were like the coolest boots I had ever seen in my life.” Kidman’s net worth is estimated to be around $185 million.
Johnny Depp: A Ranch House For His Beloved Mother
Actor Johnny Depp is known for his ever-changing faces. From Willy Wonka to Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp is a master of disguise. But if there is one thing he isn’t able to hide, it’s the love he has for his late mother, Betty Su.
After receiving his first big paycheck, she was the first person he thought of. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Depp explained that his first purchase was a 42-acre horse farm for his mother, located outside of Lexington, Kentucky. He said, “Betty Sue, I worshipped her.” After her passing, Depp sold the home for #1.3 million. The Golden Globe-winning actor is now worth $200 million.
Tiffany Haddish: Snickers, Lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, And More!
After landing guest appearances on various television shows, actress Tiffany Haddish began making a name for herself after winning the role of Nekeisha Williams on the sitcom The Carmichael Show. But it wasn’t until her performance as Diana in the 2017 film Girl’s Trip that she made her big break into the industry.
Before Haddish purchased anything with her first big paycheck, the actress, now worth six million dollars, went straight to the bank. During an interview with TIME, she said, “First thing I did is I went to the bank. I bought a big box of Snickers and lollipops, Jolly Rancher sticks, and Blow Pops. Oh, and Corn Nuts.”
Ariel Winter: Shoes, Shoes, And More Shore
Actress Ariel Winter made it in Hollywood at a very young age, landing the role of Alex Dunphy in the 11-season run of the popular mockumentary sitcom Modern Family. According to The New York Daily News, Winter was making over $100,000 per episode by the end of the show’s run, a substantial sum that helped her reach a net worth of an estimated $12 million.
But when she was a young girl with her first big paycheck, what did she purchase? During an interview with People, the actress said, “I bought some serious shoes. I bought a lot of shoes. I love shoes.”
Jennifer Lopez: A New Mercedes
Jennifer Lopez is one of the most well-known faces in Hollywood, having been in multiple films and concert halls. Starting off as a Fly Girl for the series In Living Color, Lopez quickly turned to acting. And in 1997, she landed the role of a lifetime, playing Selena in a biopic of the same name.
JLo’s first big purchase didn’t come from the Selena paycheck, though. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, JLo said, “when I got, I think it was a regular series, I bought a car — a Mercedes. And it was a huge deal.” The actress/singer is now worth an estimated $400 million.
Kerry Washington: Hid It Under Her Bed Then Bought A Laptop
Best known for her work on ABC series Scandal, Kerry Washington has more than one critically acclaimed project attached to her name. It seems as though no matter what the actress works on, she is nominated for either an Emmy or Golden Globe, including her performances in Confirmation and Little Fires Everywhere.
But her first big paycheck came from Save the Last Dance. When The Hollywood Reporter asked what she purchased, Washington said, “This is so Bronx girl of me…I literally used to hide it under my mattress. And at the end of [the film], I bought my first laptop.” Washington’s net worth is now $25 million.
Brad Pitt: A Chair And A Lamp
Actor Brad Pitt has been working in the industry since the late 80s, gaining prominence and worldwide recognition in the 90s with films such as A River Runs Through It, Fight Club, and 12 Monkeys. With two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Primetime Emmy Award under his belt, he is a well-decorated actor.
And it seems as though he wanted his studio well-decorated after receiving his first paycheck. When Architectural Digest asked Pitt what he spent his first big paycheck on, he said, “When I received my first paycheck, I spent it on a period Craftsman chair and a Frank Lloyd Wright–wannabe lamp.” Pitt is worth $300 million.
Brie Larson: A Blue Electric Guitar
Starting her career in teen comedies, Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson has expanded her catalog to film franchises and independent dramas. One such drama being the critically acclaimed movie Room, a performance that earned Larson her first Oscar. Then, in 2019, Time magazine recognized the actress as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.
So, maybe the actress who is worth $10 million will influence readers to start playing music. When asked during an interview with GQ what she spent her first paycheck on, Larson said, “The first real purchase that I recall was a blue electric guitar.”
Cindy Crawford: Wallpaper For Her House
During the 80s and 90s, Cindy Crawford was among one of the most popular supermodels in the world. She was a common face to see on the cover of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar, among others. Because of her status as a high-end model, she became something of a fashion icon, as well. Particularly her and the Versace dress she wore to the 63rd Academy Awards.
But before she strut down the red carpet at the awards, Crawford was just starting out in the industry. On Twitter, the model even made fun of her first “big paycheck purchase,” saying, “I spent my first paycheck on wallpaper. Says a lot, doesn’t it?”
Lil Wayne: A Car He Couldn’t Legally Drive
Rapper Lil Wayne began writing music when he was only eight years old. By the time he was 14, Wayne was making money from his music. From there, he had nowhere to go but up in the music business. The first time the young artist realized he had enough money to buy something, he did the purest thing.
Wayne tried to give the money to his mother, who ultimately refused the gift. So, he did the next sensible thing; he bought a Nissan Pathfinder. The only issue being Wayne couldn’t legally drive for another two years! Today, the rapper is estimated to be worth around $120 million.
Chris Rock: A $45,000 Corvette
Like a lot of new stars who get their first big paycheck, actor and comedian Chris Rock forgot something very important when he went out splurging: sales tax. Rock’s first big payout came from his first year as a cast member of Saturday Night Live.
The job earned him $90,000, of which he spent $45,000 on a brand new Corvette. After the first year, Rock estimates that he was in at least $25,000 worth of debt. Thankfully, he learned from his mistakes and is now worth $100 million.
Rami Malek: A Very Expensive Espresso Machine
Rami Malek was very close to going into real estate due to his struggle to find work as n actor. Thankfully, he landed the role of Andy in Gilmore Girls, allowing him to stay in the industry and give us performances such as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
But it was the popular series Gilmore Girls that landed Malek is first big paycheck. As a caffeine lover, there was only one thing the actor could think about purchasing. During an interview, he told GQ, ” ended up spending that paycheck on my own personal espresso machine.” The Academy Award-winning actor is estimated to be worth around eight million dollars.
Caleb McLaughlin: Nike Jordan Wings
At 18 years old, actor Caleb McLaughlin has made quite a stir in the television world with his reoccurring role of Lucas Sinclair on the Netflix series Stranger Things. His performance earns him $250,000 per episode, for a total of $2,820 per hour.
Off-screen, McLaughlin is a known sneaker enthusiast. So, it shouldn’t come to much of surprise that the young man splurged on a rare pair of Nike’s. During an episode of First We Feast’s Truth or Dab, the actor said, “There were these sneakers called Jordan Wings that I bought.” The actor has a net worth of three million dollars.
Mark Wahlberg: A Mercedes But He Couldn’t Afford Insurance
Before making in the film industry, Mark Wahlberg was part of a little group called Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Aside from “Good Vibrations,” Wahlberg is probably best known for his work in The Departed and The Fighter, of which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, respectively.
But it was the paycheck he earned off of the number one song “Good Vibrations” that led Wahlberg to his first big purchase, a Mercedes. Unfortunately, the actor couldn’t afford the insurance at the time, and neighborhood thugs kept breaking in to steal his radio. Today, Wahlberg can definitely afford insurance, since his net worth is $300 million.
Dave Grohl: A House In North Carolina, A Smoker, And BBQ
Drummer Dave Grohl made it big at a young age, going straight into the limelight at 22. Throughout the 90s, Grohl was the drummer for one of the biggest rock bands around, Nirvana. Then, in 1994, he founded the Foo Fighters after Nirvana disbanded.
But what does a 22-year-old do with their first big paycheck? According to an interview Grohl had with Variety, the musician bought a beach house in North Carolina, a smoker, and a whole lot of BBQ. He went on to say that he pretty much lived off pulled pork from 22-25! With a net worth of $320 million, let’s hope he’s expanded his palate!
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: A Ford KA
Model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley began her career in the industry at 15 years old, making her big break in 2004 when she traveled to New York for a Teen Vogue spread. From there, she went on to pose for Abercrombie & Fitch, walk the catwalk alongside legends such as Naomi Campbell, and even became a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
She was the highest-paid model of 2018, making $11.5 million that year alone. But when it came to her first big paycheck, Huntington-Whiteley picked up a brand new Ford KA. Ironically, she was too young to drive at the time! Now, the model is worth $30 million.
Minka Kelly: A Nice Big Flat Screen TV For Her Dad
Before making her big break as cheerleader Lyla Garrity in the NBC series Friday Night Lights, Minka Kelly was all about working odd jobs. She appeared in various series and promos, such as The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious, a six-minute teaser to the second installment of the Fast and Furious franchise.
But her Friday Night Lights paycheck was her first big pay day, allowing her to go and spoil her father. When asked by InStyle what she purchased with her first paycheck, Kelly said, “I got my dad a huge flat-screen TV for Christmas. He had no idea it was coming.”
Ashley Graham: A Personal Trainer…But Also Shoes
Plus-size model Ashley Graham doesn’t just make her $10 million fortune from strutting down the catwalk and posing for top-designer like Dolce and Gabbana, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger. Graham also makes money from selling A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, her biography.
When it came to her first big paycheck, Graham went a practical route. During an interview with People, she said, “Probably my first big purchase was a pair of Chanel platform creepers. But the most I spent was on a personal trainer, I was clueless in the gym, and I really wanted to learn how to use [the] machines without hurting myself.”
Kathy Griffin: A House For Her Parents
At a young age, comedian Kathy Griffin knew she wanted to move to Hollywood and “become famous.” So, when she was 18, the Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List reality star persuaded her parents to move from Illinois to Los Angeles so she could follow her dream. Ultimately, she found success and wanted to share it with her supportive parents.
During an interview with People, the TV personality worth $35 million explained what she purchased with her first big paycheck. Griffin said, “I splurged on my mom and dad first, because, you know, they’re very working-class…So it was all about getting them a nice place to live.”
Serena Williams: Absolutely Nothing!
Tennis star Serena William’s is no stranger to winning hefty checks at championship matches, even though she says she plays for the love of the game and doesn’t necessarily care about the prize money. Throughout the years, Williams’ winnings and endorsements have accumulated to a net worth of $200 million!
But what she did with her first big check was very mature. On a segment of Kneading Dough, Williams’ said, “I never touched [the money] — I just put it in the bank. I remember I went through the drive-thru to deposit my check, and then they were like, ‘I think you need to come in for this.'”
Judith Sheindlin, AKA Judge Judy: Black Robert Clergerie Shoes
Before landing it big with her own television show, Judith Sheindlin was living a very frugal life with her husband. Living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York, the couple drove a second-hand car and typically shopped in the sales section of any store. That all changed when Judge Judy landed her own series.
Making three-times the amount she was used to; the Judge did what any sensible woman would with her first big paycheck. Used to shopping all the sales, Judy went straight for a brand new pair of black Robert Clergerie shoes. With a net worth of $440 million, it’s safe to say she isn’t shopping the sales anymore.