Bankruptcy Law

Famous Celebrities Who Went Bankrupt before Becoming Rich

Sometimes you have to go through hard times before you make it big. In fact, many famous people did just that before they became successful. They represent your typical rags to riches stories, and these life stories go to show that even the most successful people struggle on their way to the top. For individuals thinking of filing for bankruptcy, these stories often give them hope that filing for bankruptcy will be the beginning of greater things to come.

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is known for his financial advice, so it may seem hard to believe that even he struggled financially at one point in time.  However, even his rise to the top had its peaks and valleys. He started with a great deal of real estate holdings through his brokerage firm, Ramsey Investments, but his real estate success was not long-lasting. His holdings ended up being leveraged, resulting in creditors calling in their debts. Ramsey eventually filed for bankruptcy. After bankruptcy, he went a different direction and focused his efforts on financial counseling for his local church. He attended workshops on consumer financial issues and used this knowledge to build his own seminars. Now he is known for his first book and subsequent programs titled Financial Peace. His net worth is over $55 million, and individuals all over the world swear by his program in their own financial success.

Abraham Lincoln

You would not assume that one of our nation’s most famous presidents would have filed for bankruptcy, but it is true. In his 20s, before he entered politics, Lincoln and a partner opened a general store in Illinois, buying their store’s inventory on credit. However, as business did not sore, their debts were not paid off. He ended up selling his sake in the store, but after his business partner died, Lincoln was on the hook for over $1,000 in debt. While technically bankruptcy did not exist at that time, he worked out a payment plan to repay his creditors successfully over the span of 17 years.

Walt Disney

Orlando, Florida is well-known for one specific name, and that name is “Walt Disney.” Like the others mentioned, you would not think that Disney would have gone through something like bankruptcy, but it is, in fact, true. He was barely out of his teen years when he filed for bankruptcy. Disney formed a company called Laugh-O-Gram Studio in 1920 where he made animated fairytales. He formed the company on the assistance of a financial backer, but after that source went broke, Disney was not able to pay off his debts, let alone his animators, forcing the company to file for bankruptcy one year later. He obtained a family loan in 1923 when he started a new company. Five years later, Disney created Mickey Mouse, and his career and the company took off. Disney almost had to file for bankruptcy in 1937 upon the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but he was able to get a bank loan to finance the movie. The company took off even further from that point, resulting in the rest of the classic movies we all know and love.

P.T. Barnum

Even the creator of one of the greatest shows on earth went through his fair share of financial struggles.  P.T. Barnum is one of the founders of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a show that lasted from 1871 to 2017. Barnum began his career at 25 when he purchased the Scudder’s American Museum in New York City, one of the most popular attractions in the city at that time. However, the building burned down five times, resulting in Barnum to continually put out money to refurbish the building. The cost of keeping up with building expenses was not supported by the museum’s revenue, forcing him into eventual bankruptcy. He ended up conducting lectures on “The Art of Money Getting,” which allowed him to repay his past debts. It was not until he was 64 when he joined forces to create one of the most famous circus attractions of all time.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson is one of the most well-known country singers of all time, but even Nelson struggled financially. Growing up during the Great Depression, his family struggled to pay their living expenses, and Nelson even had to pick cotton to earn money for his family. Oddly enough, his cotton picking sparked his desire to perform. At age 13, he chose to sing in local dance halls to earn money. He became a disc jockey at a local radio station in Texas, which allowed him to do his own recordings, thus sparking his career. While he never formally filed for bankruptcy, he went through extreme financial difficulties after the IRS claimed he owed over $32 million, resulting in them seizing his assets in 1990. He was able to eventually settle the debt, but it was definitely a defining experience for him. He even released an album called The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories. All profits from the sale of that album went directly to the IRS.

Elton John

Another famous singer, Sir Elton John, went through his own financial struggles. He first came onto the music scene with the release of the single Your Song in 1970. After that, he released hit after hit, resulting in enormous fame and wealth. He lived quite the lavish lifestyle, and eventually in 2002, that lifestyle caught up with him. He declared bankruptcy after properties he owned incurred a large amount of debts. It is estimated that he spent somewhere near 1.5 million British pounds monthly around that time, which definitely led to his financial issues. However, he has managed to bounce back after he entered into a contract to perform in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace in 2003. He also contributed on several Walt Disney movies, including The Lion King, resulting in a steady cash flow, bringing his wealth currently to approximately $450 million.

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at