The first thing Oprah Winfrey spent money on when she became famous

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful and wealthy women in the world, but she came from a very humble background. The media mogul was born in January 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, according to The Washington Post, and as a child she was shuttled between her parents’ homes and those of other family members in Milwaukee and Nashville.

Oprah told The Post that she realized she was poor while living with her mother in Milwaukee. “I was taken to school by bus. I got on the bus at night and went home, and the white kids went to the pizza place and drove their cars and stuff,” she said. Oprah also told Feminist.com she was “the poorest kid in the class.”

Amidst a rebellious teenage years, Oprah moved in with her father at age 14. She has credited her strict dad with “saving” her. Fast forward five decades, and Oprah is now a full-fledged media mogul who has made her mark as a host, producer, actress, and writer. Oprah first became a millionaire in 1989, and today she’s worth an estimated $3.5 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. But what has Oprah done after hitting this promising milestone?

Oprah Winfrey has done something special after earning her first million

After spending her early years in poverty, Oprah Winfrey found fame and fortune as the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The popular talk show ran for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011 per IMDb and made Winfrey a millionaire.

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Winfrey has spoken about what she bought when she made her first million in the late 1980s, and her first big luxury wasn’t a fancy car or house. Instead, she dropped big bucks on bath towels. “But not just any bath towels. Ralph Lauren bath towels. A whole set,” she wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine in 2018. “For a girl who grew up sharing a bath towel with two half-siblings, having a closet filled with lavish Ralph Lauren towels of every color in an apartment overlooking Lake Michigan was truly a beautiful thing.”

Winfrey opened up about this in a YouTube video for her magazine after a fan asked her what she squandered when she first got rich. “The thing I spent a lot of money on was really good fluffy towels,” Winfrey replied. “I love great towels. Towels so big and fluffy you can wrap yourself and your whole body in them. So I bought myself some really good, fluffy Ralph Lauren towels.” The talk show queen added that she also posed for a photo when she received her first big paycheck. “The first thing I did when I got my first check for a million dollars was take a picture of it,” she said. “So there’s a picture of me holding the check for a million dollars.”

Oprah Winfrey made a much bigger effort in the 1990s

Oprah Winfrey owns homes around the world and can indulge in any luxury she desires. In the early 1990s, she decided to make a purchase that went well beyond fluffy towels. Winfrey once told British Vogue that her greatest luxury was buying her own plane. “I would say having your own plane is the ultimate luxury,” she said. “Because it means one minute you’re in New York and the next minute you’re saying… ‘I think I’m going to London.'”

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In 2019, Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter that she finally decided she needed her own plane when a woman approached her at the airport expecting her to act like she had on her TV show. “So I got up and hugged her and then I got on the phone and I called my lawyer and I said, ‘I’ll do it, I’ll get the plane. This will be mine last time I waited four hours at Chicago O’Hare Airport,” she explained.

The talk show star added that she knew she could never justify the cost because it was such a huge luxury, but she did it anyway — and she didn’t even go on a payment plan. “I wrote this first check – because I can’t stand bills – for my first G4 [jet] for the full $25 million,” revealed Winfrey.