Rachael Ray went from scraping together the rent as a candy counter girl to a multi-millionaire with her own talk show, cooking show(s), magazine, and books that have sold more than 4 million copies. She's also spawned a lingo all her own. (EVOO for Extra Virgin Olive Oil has entered the popular vernacular). All this in a little under ten years.
Love her or hate her, Rachael Ray, she of the perky smile and Girl-next-door demeanor, gets major points for translating her love of cooking into a multi-million media empire. People can't seem to get enough of her "regular gal" persona. But her bubbly personality masks some serious business savvy.
Using her mentor Oprah Winfrey as a blueprint, Ray has expanded out of the kitchen this year into many other avenues. Her one-hour daytime talk show, The Rachel Ray Show, is patterned after the perennially popular Oprah Winfrey Show, and was the only syndicated daytime talk show launched in 2007 to be renewed. Her Food Network shows continue to be among the most popular on the channel.
She also cooked up some lucrative endorsement deals with name brands such as Dunkin Donuts and Nabisco -- now owned by Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT). These media venues help feed her magazine (Every Day with Rachel Ray) and cookbook sales.
These are like the cherry on top of the $16 million Ray took home this year, according to Forbes magazine. By some estimates, Ray's net worth is touching $100 million, but that's hard to verify. One thing's for sure, this gal doesn't need to get out of the kitchen; she's proving that she can stand the heat.