5 People Who Made Bank After They Hit 40


With the success of so many young entrepreneurs, many of us tend to discount the possibility of finding prosperity later in life. An opinion piece allegedly written by Alibaba Group’s billionaire founder Jack Ma fuelled the debate after sentiments revolving around how those who are “poor by the time they are 35, deserve it,” began circulating on the internet.

While the piece was later revealed to be bogus, it certainly fanned the discourse on whether those who have not made it in their 20s and early 30s have missed the golden boat.

True, the earlier you make money in life, the better it can be invested and grown, but there are plenty of midlife millionaires who are proof that sometimes the lessons and maturity you gain from years of misdoings can eventually lead to a financial goldmine. Here are five people who made bank after they hit 40.


The real colonel behind Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), endured a hard life and had failed many times. His wife left him when he became jobless, but Sanders did not give up on life.

Then he started serving his chicken dishes at a gas station for free rent, but news of his incredible chicken grew, and he finally made it bigtime as an entrepreneur in his golden years.

Sanders saw potential of the restaurant franchising concept and opened the first KFC franchise in Utah in 1952. However, the company’s rapid expansion to over 600 locations became overwhelming for the aging Sanders, and he sold the brand in 1964 for a cool US$2 million (RM7.14 million).

He was estimated to be worth US$3.5 million (RM12.53 million) at the time of his death in 1980. Sander’s success can be put down to both his perseverance and the fact that his chicken is just so finger-lickin’ good.    


Founder, Wally Amos spent most of his career working as a mailroom clerk, and eventually became a music agent and managed stars like Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, but that didn’t make him a millionaire.

Then, Amos decided to cash in on his hobby: baking. With his talents, Gaye and Helen Reddy loaned him US$25,000 (RM89087.50) to open his first bakery, just days before he hit 40.

Amos and his cookie empire enjoyed a decade of success raking in US$12 million (RM42.76 million) in annual sales at its peak, with 35 stores in the United States and Asia.

Unfortunately, his cookie crumbled due to mismanagement and Amos was forced to sell off his company. In 1988, Famous Amos Cookies was acquired by the Shansby Group, who forbade him to use his name and likeliness on the packaging of any food products. Famous Amos is now part of Kellogg’s.  


Martha Stewart was 40 before she caught her big break with her first book, “Entertaining” in 1982.

A former model, and then stockbroker ventured into the catering business in the 1970s. When high net worth clients and celebrities starting rolling in, she sold her catering business for US$1 million (RM3.56 million)

Throughout the years, the multi-faceted entrepreneur has been through incredible highs and lows, from her imprisonment for insider trading to her rise as the head of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, a diversified media and merchandising company. The highly successful business leader is now estimated to be worth a jaw-dropping US$970 million (RM3.47 billion)!


As president of the United States, he makes US$400,000 (RM1.425 million) a year, but before that, Barack Obama had already earned US$4.2million as an author.

Capitalising on his foray into politics, he made a sizable chunk of his net worth from the sales of his books, Dreams of My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006).

Fame and riches did not happen immediately for Obama, though. He could barely afford to pay off his student loans for a decade after he graduated.

To this day, he earns US$3.75 (RM13.36) for every hardcover copy and US$1.12 (RM3.99) for every paperback he sells.


The daughter of affluent Chinese immigrants and an acclaimed premier bridal wear designer from New York did not make her mark in the fashion world until she was in her 40s.

Wang was a professional skater until she failed to make the US Olympic team at age 19. She turned to writing instead and became a senior editor at Vogue, but left in 1987 after being turned down for the editor-in-chief position currently filled by Anna Wintour.

Wang joined Ralph Lauren as a design director for two years, and would eventually sketch her way into a billion-dollar fashion retail empire and a cool estimated net worth of US$115 million (RM409.80).

In all of these cases, these exemplary individuals show that braced with an entrepreneurial spirit and an unwavering desire to build something, it is never too late to make your own luck and chase after your dreams! It’s not too late to hit your first million.

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