Millions of people watch the show “Shark Tank” each season. While many of them view it as a way to learn how the business negotiation process goes, especially when it comes to pitching for an investment.
Others, though, watch to see how savagely some of these would-be investors chew up the people pitching their potential business ideas and spit them out. Some of them relish those people making the walk of shame out of the Shark Tank as much as they do seeing the victories.
But that also leaves them wondering exactly how these super-wealthy Sharks make their money. Yes, the intro to the show does tell a bit, but it is very superficial. So we can take a deeper dive here to see how these Sharks earned their seats and how they can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to individuals and millions overall over the course of the seasons.
Where Do The Shark Tank Judges Make Their Money?
While it’s difficult to list every single guest Shark and their income, it’s easier to zero in on the core Sharks, the ones who have been around since the first and second seasons. We’ll go through each one and how they made their money.
At one time, Corcoran was one of the titans of the real estate scene in Manhattan. She originally started in real estate with her boyfriend and found out that he was cheating on her.
So she left and started her own real estate company, The Corcoran Group. When she split with her boyfriend, he told her that she would never survive without him.
That insult spurred her on and she dominated the real estate scene. Ultimately, she sold The Corcoran Group in 2001 for $66 million. Now she invests in the businesses that pitch on the show and she also does motivational speaking, among other things.
The Dallas Mavericks owner made his money when he sold the website Broadcast.com to Yahoo! in 2000. He was always an entrepreneur at heart, though. It started at a young age, when he would do things like sell garbage bags door to door.
Even though he became rich from a single sale, he has always made a point to diversify his portfolio – he is the chairman of AXS TV and he also owns part of Magnolia Theaters and has equity in a lot of start-ups.
In 2022, he launched an online pharmacy that aimed to make high-end prescription drugs a lot more affordable for people. He is the only billionaire among the regulars – though there have been guest Sharks like Sir Richard Branson and Chris Sacca that were billionaires themselves.
“The Queen of QVC” has made her money selling products on the TV channel and also securing more than 120 patents. Greiner joined the channel in 2000 and has stayed on there since. She has made over $100 million due to her comfort standing in front of a TV camera and describing the products that she was selling.
Not only that, she is a fearless inventor. It was her invention of a plastic earring organizer that helped her pay off her student loans – JC Penny bought the organizer. She has also written books and gives speeches, both of which have helped her bottom line.
Herjavec, who is from the former Yugoslavia (his family escaped from there when he was eight) and lived in Canada, was on the Canadian version of “Shark Tank,” a show called “Dragon’s Den.” The racecar-loving entrepreneur has been involved in IT for many years.
He built several IT companies, including the first one from his own basement, and sold them. Right now, he has The Herjavec Group, which makes about $200 million a year. He also makes money from writing books and giving speeches.
The Queens native is famous for starting his clothing company, FUBU – or For Us By Us – in his mom’s garage while also working as a waiter at a Red Lobster restaurant. He got a big break when the rap superstar LL Cool J wore his clothing in music videos.
Samsung also helped him out early on. Even though he has had a lot of success over the course of his career, he has also had trouble with FUBU, having to shut it down three times. The struggles seem to have grounded him – he is the most outgoing Shark who interacts with fans of the show regularly.
The man who calls himself “Mr. Wonderful” and appeared on “Dragon’s Den” with Herjavec, before joining the show, got tips from his mother and started up his own company called SoftKey.
That company did really well and bought The Learning Company – which Mattel bought for nearly $4 billion. He got $400 million of that and has invested in various small businesses that appear on “Shark Tank.”
Our Final Thoughts
There have been guest Sharks, such as the previously mentioned Sir Branson and Sacca. Others have included baseball player Alex Rodriguez, Go Pro Founder Nick Woodman, socialite Bethenny Frankel, billionaire Steven Tisch, Spanx founder Sarah Blakely, actors Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Hart, and marketing manager Rohan Oza.
These guest Sharks have made their money from endorsements, playing sports, creating things that make people’s lives easier or improve their appearance, making movies, going on the comedy circuit, to exploring the venture capital world. Their methods of making money and earning their seat alongside the main Sharks are as wide and varied as the original ones.
The main theme here, though, is that these Sharks, both original and guests, were not born with silver spoons in their mouths. Many of them grew up in less than ideal They worked hard for what they got and they continue to do so while also showing a shrewdness with their money that has served them well.