Ryan Reynolds made headlines last week when the gin company he’s owned a stake in since 2018, Aviation Gin, sold for a lot of money. George Clooney famously made a huge chunk of change a few years ago when the tequila company he helped start sold for even more money. Celebrities owning booze businesses have become very trendy, obviously, so let’s take a look at what other stars are serving up popular libations.
Before she became one of the original cast members of Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel was already a successful entrepreneur, starting a baking business in 2003 and later starring as a contestant on the short-lived The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. While the baking business didn’t last, it was her next venture, Skinnygirl, that really took off.
Skinnygirl started with a series of books and soon the RHONY star created a line of canned margaritas, dubbed Skinnygirl Margarita. From there, the company grew, adding more canned cocktail flavors and eventually sold to liquor conglomerate, Beam Suntory, in 2011 for a whopping $120 million. As with many of these sales, the numbers are usually private and it’s hard to exactly pin down how much anyone really made, as there are obviously a number of factors involved, but it is safe to say Frankel made a lot.
It’s a little easier to take a guess at how much George Clooney made when his tequila company, Casamigos, sold to Diageo for at least $700 million. That number could go up to a cool $1 billion when it’s all said and done. As a one-third owner in the brand, alongside Cindy Crawford’s husband Rande Gerber and real estate tycoon Mike Meldman, Clooney stands to make as much as $333 million.
That sale, and the fact that Clooney has been one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood for decades now is likely the reason the gossip media is so quick to invent phony stories surrounding George and his wife, Amal Clooney. Between her work as a lawyer, and the money he’s made, there would be a lot of money at stake in a divorce, which seems to attract supermarket tabloid headlines like moths to a flame. Luckily, the couple is doing just fine, as Gossip Cop has reported dozens of times.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Tequila has proven to be a very popular choice of spirit for celebrities to get involved with. In addition to Clooney, Sammy Hager was the first celebrity-turned-tequila distiller when he founded Cabo Wabo way back in the late 90s. Rita Ora has a tequila, called Próspero, Michael Jordan and other NBA players and executives started Cincoro in 2019. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson launched Teremana earlier this year.
Now Dwayne Johnson is the founder and chairman of a company that not only aims to distill a premium spirit, but do it sustainably. While this may seem out of left field for Johnson, remember, this is a guy who went from getting injured on the football field in college to moving through the ranks of the WWE and on to become the highest-paid actor in the business. Question his decisions at your own risk.
One of the early trendsetters in the industry is Sean Combs. Combs team with beverage giant Diageo to develop and market CÎROC Vodka. Unlike the other brands we’ve discussed, this one began not as an independent business, but as a 50-50 partnership between the music producer and the spirit maker. Combs serves as the brand ambassador and as its main marketer and has since its launch in 2007.
Diddy isn’t the only rapper in the liquor game, either. Jay-Z is an investor and owner of multiple brands, notably Armand de Brignac, which produces the high-end Ace of Spades champagne, which he bought for a reported $200 in 2014. He also owns a stake in Cognac D’Ussé in partnership with Bacardi.
While some of his other business ventures grab more headlines, like his part ownership in the NBA’s Nets and his streaming service Tidal, Jay-Z has also been a frontrunner in the celebrity spirit field. It’s a big reason Jay-Z is a billionaire, in fact.
Funnyman Dan Aykroyd has also had a fondness for nightlife. In 1992, Aykroyd co-founded the House of Blues nightclub chain with locations in Boston and New Orleans. That business was bought by LiveNation in 2006 for $350 million.
Not resting on his laurels, the Blues Brother star started Crystal Head Vodka in 2007 along with painter John Alexander. He also owns wineries and a liquor distributorship in his home country of Canada. With its distinct bottle shape, designed by co-founder Alexander, and a hefty price tag of around $70 a bottle, Crystal Head has a very good reputation among vodka drinkers.
Bob Dylan is an old soul with a boundless amount of energy. He’s been on his so-called Never Ending Tour for more than three decades now and late last year played his 3,000 show of the tour since 1988. Still, he somehow found the time to develop Heaven’s Door Rye in partnership with a company out of Chicago. At $77 a bottle, it might not be as approachable as other players in the market, but like Dylan, it’s got a hardcore group of devoted fans.
Francis Ford Coppola
In the 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola directed three of the most important and best movies ever made in The Godfather Parts I & II and Apocalypse Now. With the money he made on The Godfather films, Coppola settled in Napa Valley, California and naturally, got involved in the region’s wine business.
Coppola’s been making wine for more than 40 years now, under the Niebaum-Coppola label and he’s expanded the business in the years since, adding another winery, Inglenook, in the mid-90s. Remarkably, the legendary director is now as well known for his wine as he is for his movies.
Other Celebrities Are Getting Involved All The Time
Matthew McConaughey is neither dazed nor confused when it comes to business or whiskey. McConaughey has been a pitchman for Wild Turkey for years, and in 2016 helped develop Wild Turkey Longbranch with the company. UFC champion Conor McGregor has an Irish Whiskey called Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey.
Cameron Diaz is in the wine business, as is Post Malone, of all people. Sex in the City star Sarah Jessica Parker is too, as is Martha Stewart, of course. Nick Jonas has a tequila company with designer John Varvatos, and another Sex in the City alum, Chris Noth, also has a tequila brand. Country star and advisor on The Voice Luke Bryan sells Two Lane beer, naturally.
Where will it all end? Who knows, but in these times of quarantine, there are certainly worse industries to get involved with.