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Episode 54: Force of good

How Oprah Winfrey got so wealthy with Mak & G
Episode 54: Force of good


This episode, Mak & G look at how Oprah Winfrey became the first black female billionaire, what made her so successful, and how much she’s worth now…


Oprah Winfrey is another billionaire who’s generous with her money and passionate about helping others, just recently she donated 10 million dollars towards the fight against COVID.


This “Money With Mak and G” podcast episode, Mak & G look at how Oprah Winfrey became so successful, what made her popular, and how much money she made through hosting the Oprah Winfrey show…


“Succesful people never quit.” G


“She was paid over $300 million for one year of her show.” – Mak

Time Stamps:

00:20 – Our favorite things about Chicago.

03:55 – Oprah Winfrey’s real name and why she changed it to Oprah.

04:40 – How much Oprah Winfrey is worth and who Madam C.J. Walker is.

06:25 – What desegregation was and what Oprah did growing up.

07:14 – What makes people successful.

08:00 – How Oprah started the Oprah Winfrey show and got famous.

09:25 – How much Oprah was paid for her show.

10:30 – What made Oprah so relatable to her viewers.

11:15 – The extent of Oprah’s generosity.

13:05 – Oprah’s fear of balloons.

14:48 – How Oprah became the ‘most powerful woman’.


Connect with Ben Jones:



MAK: Mom says that we’re going back to Chicago to see our old friends.


GRANT: Do you know we haven’t been there in over 2 years.  Isn’t that weird?


MAK: Indianapolis has some good stuff for sure, but Chicago is just a different animal.


GRANT: But, Indianapolis is getting a Lou Malnati’s this month.  Talk about Chicago pizza, and me missing it.


MAK: You’re right. And, Dad’s been waiting for them to come to Indy for years now.


GRANT: I think he’ll be so happy when they arrive. Their new location will only be 9 minutes away. I know he’ll say “it was worth the wait”.


MAK: Yeah, but after he binges on it for several weeks, he may have to change it to “W-E-I-G-H-T”. You know, whenever he goes bonkers for pizza, he always gains 5 or 10 pounds.


GRANT: Yeah, he does love the deep dish with a huge sausage patty that covers the whole thing. I don’t see how he can even eat it. It makes my stomach turn.


MAK: I know, I have to pull most of it off. I bet finding Lou’s pizza is in his top 5 experiences of his life after marrying mom and having us.


GRANT: Oh, you’re so right. Thinking about Chicago makes me think about the movie “Ferris Bueller’s day off”. Didn’t we watch that about a year ago, when we were missing Chi-town?


MAK: Sounds about right.


GRANT: Bown bown, chica chica. I loved that music.


MAK: Bueller, Bueller Bueller. That thing was nuts.


GRANT: Hey, he had a point when he said “How Could I Possibly Be Expected To Handle School On A Day Like This?”


MAK: Yeah, they didn’t miss anything that day. The part about the Cubs game reminded me of how long it’s been since we’ve gone to a game.


GRANT: Agree. When Ferris caught the home run ball on TV at the Cubs game, that was so funny. Principal Rooney was standing right there next to the TV and missed it. That was classic.


MAK: So classic. (sings) Danke Shane, darling, Danke shane…


GRANT: Nice. And there’s nothing better than a Chicago dog. When we go, I’m doing the 5 “D”’s. I’m getting’ a dog, deep dish, and doing the drive.  And, we can’t miss….


MAK: Millennium park and see the bean.


GRANT: You got it, and there’s no forgetting…


MAK: Grant Park, I know. You’ve always loved that they named a park after you. We have some serious memories of playing there with mom when we were little. Hey, let’s go see “Blizzard” at the Shed, remember???


GRANT: Of course, Annik (AH-nik). That’s the name of the baby Beluga at the Shedd. It means “Blizzard” in Inuit, which is the language of the native people of the Canadian Arctic. Ok, we need to focus.


MAK: Last week, we spoke about Bill the Billionaire. An amazing story. I think we should cover a female billionaire, and if we’re heading to Chicago, who better in Chicago than….


MAK/GRANT: At same time…


MAK: Orpah.


GRANT: Oprah!!!


GRANT: Did you say “Orpah”? What???


MAK: Yep. Hey, I’ve done a lot of research bro. We’ll get to that.


GRANT: Ok. I’ve got your back Mak!!

MAK: Ok, Oprah’s real name is “Orpah”, from the Bible. But people had trouble saying Orpah and so she changed it to Oprah.


GRANT: Wow, right out of the gate. I never knew that about her. All I know is that mom cried when watching her show. Mom loved her.


MAK: Well, she is pretty special. She is worth over an estimated $2.5 billion, but have you ever heard of Madam C.J. Walker?


GRANT: Isn’t there a building in downtown Indianapolis named the Madame Walker Legacy Center?


MAK: Yep, she was the first black female american who was a millionaire.  But, since she died over 100 years ago, that money would have been worth a TON more and given Oprah a run for her money.


GRANT: Says she had her business located in downtown Indianapolis, and gave opportunities to thousands of black women, which weren’t available at the time.


MAK: Wow, it also says her older siblings were born into slavery and she was the first in the family to be born free after the eh-man-sipation proclamation. By age 7 both her parents died, and she was an orphan.


GRANT: That is amazing.  Check this out. She loved going to the movies and had an electric car. Can you say TESLA? She built one of the first businesses selling cosmetics and hair products to the black community. 


MAK: Madam Walker sounds pretty amazing, just like Oprah.  And, just like CJ Walker, she was very poor.


GRANT: Yeah, Oprah was actually teased at school for wearing dresses made of potato sacks!


MAK: That would be TERRIBLE.  But, it sounds like help from her grandmother gave her the confidence to speak up and think about herself in a positive way.


GRANT: She was voted the Most Popular Girl in high school, which was something special. The school was 80% white, and in the first year of desegregation.

MAK: Isn’t desegregation when you could no longer separate blacks and whites for education? It clearly shows she had a great way with everyone she met!


GRANT: Agree. She was a beauty queen at 17, then at 19, she worked part-time on the TV news!! She was the youngest and the first African-American TV reporter at the station.


MAK: She clearly has a lot of “firsts” going on. 


GRANT: After Tennessee she moved to Baltimore, she did the news and was fired on April 1st, which she thought was an April fools joke. It wasn’t. She moved to a talk show called “People are talking”.


MAK: Yeah, and even though the first day’s review was terrible, she started to build an audience of people who watched it, which began her success.


GRANT: Successful people never quit, they also know themselves well and they believe in themselves.


MAK: Wow, I’d say that’s the winning ticket.  A trifecta bet.


GRANT: What’s a “trifecta” bet?


MAK: In horse racing, it’s when you pick the top three horses in the race. But, for Opera, I think you picked the top three reasons she was a winner.


GRANT: How’s that?


MAK: She was treated terribly in Baltimore, by several people at the studio in her first job. They yelled at her and did things that were unkind.


GRANT: But she must have kept going, right?


MAK: Absolutely. But, she really cared for people. After one story of a family burned out of their home she brought them blankets and stuff. That was supposedly a bad move.


GRANT: Seriously, that was wrong?


MAK: Yep.  She wasn’t supposed to get involved. She was told if she did it again, she was probably going to get fired.


GRANT: But, she got fired anyway.  Ouch.  So, she moved to the talk show, and started to be successful?


MAK: Yep, she made some great friends on the new show, and moved to Chicago several years later. Here’s where it’s a little weird. In Baltimore, before she left, she was told she wouldn’t make it in Chicago.


GRANT: That’s mean. But, she believed in herself, and moved to Chicago which was MUCH bigger.


MAK: Absolutely. She thought she learnt what she was meant to, and took a huge risk moving to Chicago.


GRANT: There’s that “taking a risk” thing we spoke about. Was that really a risk?


MAK: Well, think about it, if you don’t do well, then who will hire you next. But, with the struggles in her life from being treated badly, being poor and connecting with people, she started…


GRANT: The Oprah Winfrey Show, after having some good success early on in Chicago!!! That’s the biggie. Another first… the first black female to have a show that was on TVs across the country.


MAK: When you have a show like that, you earn A LOT. She was paid over $300 million for one year of her show.


GRANT: OOOOHHHH.  That’s $10 per second, $600 per minute, $36,000 per hour and $864,000 a day!!! Wow, that must have been a special show


MAK: Lots of celebrities opened up.  She also helped a lot of people. She cared for people and wanted every episode to be a “force for good”. She was real with her emotions and there was a lot of crying.


GRANT: Ughhhh. That’s not my thing.


MAK: Well, 3 out of 4 people watching were women, and most were 35 years or older.  So, it wasn’t something we would have watched. But they created a word for her style.


GRANT: Is this “Oprahfication”? Crazy emotional “DEEP” self-help that people could relate to. Can help? Didn’t she have trouble with her weight, and it sounded like a lot of people understood what she was going through.


MAK: That’s a perfect example, maybe dad should watch it if he’s not careful with his pizza addiction. She actually owns part of Weight Watchers, which helps people with their weight.


GRANT: I think dad actually did Weight Watchers in Chicago.  Funny. But, I’m sure mom would love to watch all her shows again with dad.


MAK: That would take a LONG time. Oprah did it for 25 years with over 4,500 episodes. If you watched one per day, it would take over 12 years. Hey, did you ever hear about her special shows? You’d LOVE this.


GRANT: Why does this sound familiar? Wasn’t there a lot of screaming? I’m having a brain fart?


MAK: She did shows where she gave EVERYONE free stuff.


GRANT: Like what? Towels, soap, lipstick…..girl stuff?


MAK: I guess you could call it boy stuff too. On one show, she gave 276 people a brand new…..


GRANT: Car?  What? Really?  If it was a decent car, that would be around $8 MILLION DOLLARS!!!


MAK: It WAS around $8 million, because the cars cost around $29,000 each.


GRANT: WOW, that’s UNBELIEVABLE. I guess I could put up with a bit of crying for a car. 


MAK: I bet you could. And her Company, Harpo studios, works on all kinds of stuff people would watch and listen to, like movies, talk shows, short films and other stuff.


GRANT: So, that is the company that did the Oprah show. Wait… Harpo is Oprah spelled backwards. Cool. I know the studio is in Chicago in the West Loop, because we drove by it one time.


MAK: You nailed it G. Billionaires have some cool stuff, and she is super generous too. She was ranked as one of the top 50 most generous people in America. For instance she gave $10million for Coronavirus.


GRANT: Wow, she gives a ton of money to lots of charities.  But, she also owns 6 homes. One has 70 acres near Santa Barbara as well as Antigua and Maui. She really likes to see the water.


MAK: You know she had so many “firsts” in her life. Did you know she “first” pierced her ears at 51.


GRANT: Good one Mak! How about this? Oprah seems fearless, but did you know she has “Glop-o-phobia”? 


MAK: Glop-a-do-what-ia? That’s a “first” for me. Never heard that word before.  Are you making that up???


GRANT: No, it’s a real word. Glop-o-phobia is a fear of BALLOONS……. Isn’t that CRAZYYYY. She says it reminds her of gunfire.


MAK: That does sound strange, but I guess I’m afraid of gunfire too. Hey, she’s an amazing woman, and she never quit trying…..


GRANT: And always believed in herself.


MAK: And really knew who she was.


GRANT: And what she believed in.


MAK: I bet those are probably in the DNA of every billionaire,  that we can do too. Hey, where is dad anyway?


GRANT: I have no idea. I can’t believe we got through Oprah’s entire story without one word from dad.


MAK: Hey, it’s a first for us!!


DAD: Hey, what’s up?


MAK/GRANT: Dad, you ruined it.


DAD: What?


MAK: There goes our “first”. Right when we were going to say goodbye (mad).


DAD: It’s over???


GRANT:  We’ll explain later. Thanks for being here. See you next week!! Ready Mak??




Ben’s 2 Cents

Oprah, by all standards, did something amazing. She touched the lives of tens of millions of people weekly in her show that ran for 25 years.  Everyone wanted to be a part of it, and she had so many celebrities on her show that it just baffles the mind.


She has been rated the most powerful woman, she’s received the primetime Emmy award, the Oscar (twice), the Bob Hope Humanitarian award, the presidential medal of freedom and soooo many others. She was born in the city of Kosciusko, Mississippi, which had less than 7,000 people last year.


So, what makes someone from such a small town, who had a tough life, born into poverty do these amazing things? She wasn’t treated well in her career and forged a path for many to follow.  Early on she mentioned in Baltimore she was naive, and took more abuse then she should have. But, she related to people in a way that was authentic.


It sounded like it took her some time to understand herself, even though she was thought to be wise beyond her years. She believed in herself and never gave up.  If you read about those who have been successful, the belief in self and crazy persistence seem to always come up. 


Now, she is the first female black billionaire. She is loved by millions upon millions.  She is generous and uses her power to be a “Force of Good”. What more can you say.


Thanks for being here. Make sure to get your download of questions on this episode at “”. We’d love to have you like, share and subscribe to the podcast. Send us any ideas you may have to “Ideas” @ money with Mak and G .com, and we’ll see you next time for more money with Mak & G, when we’ll be learning about and the owner Jeff Bezos. Bye…

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