Larry EllisonJohn Paul DeJoriaThen:
Then: Given up for adoption after contracting pneumonia when nine months old. Didn’t see his biological mother again until he was 48.
Now: Owns Hawaii’s Lanai Island and is spending $100 million competing in America’s Cup yacht races.
His mother once told him they had 27 cents between them. Launched John Paul Mitchell Systems while living in his car.Now:
Toys include a private jet and his own train car that costs $10,000 a month to maintain and staff.Shahid Khan
After emigrating from Pakistan he worked for $1.20 an hour as a dishwasher to put himself through the University of Illinois.Now:
Own’s Flex-N-Gate, one of the US’ largest private companies, as well as the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.Oprah Winfrey
Born in Mississippi to a single, teenage mother, bounced among family members and ran away in her teens to escape abuse.Now:
The former host of the highest-rated talk show in TV history has spent $100 million on an academy for girls in South Africa.Howard Schultz
Grew up in a housing project in Canarsie, Brooklyn. His family was left destitute when his father lost his job after an injury.Now:
Built Starbucks into a $56 billion company, though when he started there his mother pleaded, “Who’s going to buy coffee?Image: llison: Eric Charbonneau / Invision / AP; Dejoria: Ryan Miller / Invision / AP; Khan: Sang Tan / AP; Winfrey, Schultz: Getty Images
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(This story appears in the 18 October, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)