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From Immigrant to $400 Million Empire: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bumpy Road to Success

Hasn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger lived the dream life? Bodybuilding, acting, politics and philanthropy — the man has done it all!

And as we can comfortably assume, this multi-talented superstar’s exploits have earned him some big bucks. At 71, Schwarzenegger is now worth $400 million.

Been there, done that. Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived THE life

The Austrian-born acting powerhouse burst onto the scene thanks to his bodybuilding exploits during his teens, but life hadn’t been a bed of roses leading up to his big break in Hollywood.

Growing up in Thal, a small village in Austria, young Arnold noticed that he was quite passionate about the gym. He didn’t let this flame die, and at 18, he won his first bodybuilding contest, making a name in the fitness industry.

Moving to the US

He pushed himself even harder, and two years later, he won Mr. Universe, a title that brought him a relatively favorable compensation package. Adding this to the rest of his savings, Arnold Schwarzenegger had enough money –$27,000 to be exact — to move to the United States to realize his dream of becoming

Apart from him bodybuilding and acting career, Schwarzenegger has also made strides in another lucrative industry. When we mention his name, you’d never think that he’s a real estate mogul, would you? But guess what? Arnold made his first million thanks to his property business, all before he had even started acting yet. Fun fact, right?

Arnold the bodybuilder

After moving to the US, Arnold used the money he made from bodybuilding to make smart money moves. He invested in real estate, buying buildings then selling them off once they appreciated in value.

He was also lucky that real estate was selling like hot cakes, so he never once failed to sell whenever he put a piece of property on the market.

Speaking to CNBC, he revealed that he at times made profits of about 300% his initial investment.

In addition to having a bodybuilding passion, Schwarzenegger was also interested in acting. However, he didn’t want an acting career to be his only source of income.

Having attended acting classes, he had noticed that a lot of actors were desperate, such that they accepted whichever role was available. This was an eventuality he didn’t want for himself, and he figured that he’d call the shots if he were financially secure.


Once real estate brought him his desired financial freedom, Schwarzenegger now focused all his concentration on acting. His breakout role was playing Hercules in Hercules in New York.

A few years later came the Pumping Iron documentary, in which the actor showcased his bodybuilding prowess. The film earned him quite the following and is credited for landing him the Terminator job.

Playing The Terminator made Schwarzenegger a global star

The first installment was an instant hit, bringing in an estimated $80 million. However, Schwarzenegger was reportedly paid a meager $75,000 – meager in the sense that The Terminator grossed a lot more. However, he didn’t seem to mind that much as the movie transformed him into a global star instantly.

What’s more, the franchise has aged really well, and by the time Terminator 3 came around, the actor was receiving a $30 million paycheck.

In the early 2000s, Schwarzenegger turned to politics, earning a seat as California governor in 2003. He quit politics in 2010, and went back to acting, appearing in Terminator Genisys, Sabotage, Escape Plan, and The Expendables among others.

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