Here's How Much Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Worth

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been involved in the entertainment industry since he began bodybuilding in the 1960s. Before long, he was dominating in various competitions, where he went on to earn the title of Mr. Universe at the age of 20. That victory elevated the young Austrian to worldwide attention. It also opened the door to the United States, where he would become one of the most prolific and prominent action stars in film history.

Years of appearing in major Hollywood hits haven't hurt Schwarzenegger's bank account, as he consistently took home $20 million paychecks for several movies in the 1990s. Outside of appearing in films like "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Jingle All The Way," Schwarzenegger turned his attention to politics. In 2003, he was elected to the Governorship of California as a Republican and continued in that role until 2011, when he reached his term limit.

He returned to acting shortly after vacating his office and has continued to make movies (and headlines) since. Through the years, he's been a real estate mogul, a business owner, a producer, a bodybuilder, an actor, and more. All those roles earned him a ton of cash over the years. As of 2022, Schwarzenegger had amassed an estimated net worth of $450 million over the course of his six decades of work, according to Celebrity Net Worth. This is the journey he took on his road to earning that extraordinary sum.

He had a humble start in life

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born and raised in Austria in a low-income family. He grew up in a home with few of the things most people take for granted. Per Colleen A. Sexton's biography of the star, Schwarzenegger recalled of his childhood, "We had no flushing toilet. No refrigerator. No television. What we did have was food rations — and we did have British tanks around to give us kids the occasional lift to elementary school."

The book also mentioned the time his family purchased a fridge, with Schwarzenegger recalling how everyone would stand before it, opening the door to marvel at the cool air inside. Because he came from humble beginnings, the star has always been careful with his money. In the early days of his bodybuilding career, he practiced a level of frugality most people could never achieve. As Schwarzenegger famously stated in his 2009 commencement speech at the University of Southern California, "You can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in [your] pocket."

His frugal nature served him well, as it helped to establish him financially at an early age. When he was 18, Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army, but it wasn't a good fit. Per the Vancouver Sun, he was dead-set on becoming a professional bodybuilder and even went AWOL to attend a competition. That stunt landed him in military prison for a week. Still, he came in 2nd place and his bodybuilding career was off to a great start.

Arnold's first career was in bodybuilding

These days, most people probably think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a movie star. While that's valid, it wasn't his first career. After serving his time in the army, Schwarzenegger put in the work and bulked up considerably. According to Colleen A. Sexton's biography, "Arnold Schwarzenegger," in 1966, he won the Mr. Universe competition, making him the youngest winner in the competition's history. This gained him international recognition, and he continued racking up wins in various competitions around the world. 

Schwarzenegger's time as a professional bodybuilder lasted 17 years, beginning in 1963 and ending with Mr. Olympia in 1980. Many of his competitions took place in Europe, and over the course of his career, he won five Mr. Universe titles, seven Mr. Olympia titles, and many smaller competitions. His winnings from these competitions added up, and because he knew how to save, he amassed a small fortune, per Celebrity Net Worth. In 1968, Schwarzenegger took all of his winnings from competitions, amounting to $27,000 ($230,000 in 2022), and moved to the United States. 

Soon after arriving, he began investing in real estate and would go on to make a lot of money in that venture. Additionally, he created a bricklaying business with fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu. Per Interview, a massive earthquake in Los Angeles significantly raised the demand for their business. They made $1 million from the company, converting the excess into a mail-order workout supplies business. It was a short stop on the road to becoming a world-famous actor.

He started acting as Arnold Strong

Arnold Schwarzenegger knew he wanted to get into acting, and he did so through his bodybuilding career. His first film role was in the 1970 movie, "Hercules in New York," for which he was paid $12,000 ($91,000 in 2022) (via Green Backs Magnet). Instead of using his real name, he was credited as "Arnold Strong 'Mr. Universe,'" playing off his time as a world-famous bodybuilder. An uncredited actor dubbed over the star's dialogue, making it sound strange to modern viewers. While it was initially unsuccessful, it's become a cult classic, thanks to Schwarzenegger's celebrity.

The bodybuilding champ continued appearing in various movies and TV series, including a 1973 appearance on "The Dating Game." His first few roles didn't garner any attention. Despite his desire to become a world-famous actor, his big break wouldn't come until 1977 when Schwarzenegger appeared as himself in the documentary "Pumping Iron." The film did exceptionally well and helped to elevate his celebrity within the acting community.

He spent the remainder of the 1970s appearing in various TV series and movies, but it wasn't until 1982 that he broke out as a rising star. He was cast as the lead in "Conan the Barbarian," earning significant praise for his portrayal of the classic character. According to CelebrityNetWorth, he was paid $250,000 for his performance. Two years later, he reprised his role in the sequel, earning $360,000. The next film he made transformed the world by making "Schwarzenegger" a household name.

The Terminator made him a star

Arnold Schwarzenegger's work as Conan gave his career a significant boost, but it's not the role that made him a star. After all, not everyone is into sword and sorcery flicks, so the market was somewhat niche. That can also be true of science fiction — but combine that with action-adventure, and you have a movie people will flock to see. When Schwarzenegger was cast to play the titular role in James Cameron's "The Terminator," he rocketed to superstardom.

Interestingly, the rising star wasn't the studio or Cameron's first choice for the role of the T-800. Several notable actors, including Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, and O.J. Simpson, passed on the part. Schwarzenegger was initially opposed to the role, scoffing at the minimal dialogue while not wanting to play a villain. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he recalled, "I said, 'No, no, no — look, the guy has 17 lines.' I didn't want to do that. I was building my career, being a leading man and not being a villain."

In the end, he took the job while agreeing to a substantial pay cut. At the time, Schwarzenegger was earning $250,000+ for his film roles, but he agreed to take only $75,000 for "The Terminator." That was one of the best decisions in his career, as the film did insanely well, making Schwarzenegger a Hollywood A-lister overnight. He spent the next two decades earning enormous salaries, amassing an income of $400 million from film appearances alone.

From The Terminator to the Governator

When he commanded eight-figure salaries, Arnold Schwarzenegger did something his fans probably didn't expect. During California's recall election in 2003, he put his name on the ballot and won, replacing Gray Davis as the Governor of California. He served the remainder of Davis' term and ran for a second, earning another term in the 2006 California gubernatorial election. His numbers increased significantly, and he served in the office until 2011.

While he wasn't making hundreds of millions in salaries during this time, Schwarzenegger was earning untold residuals. He was being paid by the good people of California as well, earning the set income for his position in public office. According to the California Citizens Compensation Commission, the position earns a hefty salary. In 2021, the Governor of California earned $209,747 in annual income — which, admittedly, is just a drop in Schwarzenegger's bucket.

During his time in office, his salary fluctuated from $175,000 to $206,500, which was followed by a drop to $173,987 when he left office in 2011. In total, the state of California paid Governor Schwarzenegger $1,503,832. During this period, he earned money from other sources, but his income hit when he served in public office. Following his departure, an expensive divorce took a large chunk of his net worth, but he continued working his old trade after leaving office.

Schwarzenegger jumped right back into acting

Arnold Schwarzenegger wasted no time returning to acting when he left office in 2011. His first role back was as Trench, in Sylvester Stallone's "Expendables 2." While he had a cameo appearance in the first film in 2010, it wasn't until the sequel that he enjoyed a full, expanded presence in the franchise. He reprised the character in the third installment and landed prominent roles in other movies.

He received some praise for "Escape Plan" in 2013, while his return to form in "Terminator Genisys" wasn't beloved by fans of the franchise. Despite this, he continued working in various roles in movies and television. When Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, Schwarzenegger took over as the host of "The Apprentice." However, it didn't fare well, ending after only seven episodes. The disgruntled show host subsequently suggested to Empire that Trump's continued association with the show had tarnished it.

As of 2022, he's still working, but he's far from making the kind of cash that kept him going through the 1990s. According to Celebrity Net Worth, his biggest paycheck came from "Twins," for which he was paid upwards of $40 million. That was due to negotiating for a percentage of the backend in lieu of a salary, and the movie did gangbusters at the box office. His salaries aren't as public as they have been in the past, but Schwarzenegger continues to work, amassing more money to pad his sizeable net worth.

He's something of a businessman

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been successful for most of his adult life, and much of his success stems from his exceptional business acumen. If there's one thing he does well, it's marketing himself. Per Interview, he and Franco Columbu capitalized on their respective Austrian and Italian identities by advertising their bricklaying business in the "Los Angeles Times" by describing themselves as, "European bricklayers and masonry experts." He then used his image as a bodybuilder to help push his mail-order workout company.

He made a lot of money from his businesses, but the one he's most famous for is probably Planet Hollywood. Schwarzenegger was brought onto the project in 1991 alongside fellow investors and co-founders Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore. Bringing the celebs onto the project was a brilliant marketing move because they would occasionally drop by to check things out, drumming up business and keeping things going.

While it's not public knowledge how much money Schwarzenegger made off his association with Planet Hollywood before ending his contract, it's something he was passionate about. While playing himself in a scene in "Last Action Hero," his wife, Maria Shriver, begs him not to bring it up, which is precisely what he does. Ultimately, Planet Hollywood had a meteoric rise and calamitous fall. The business suffered massive losses and debt, requiring restructuring and a filing of bankruptcy. It's still operating, and in early 2022, Planet Hollywood announced plans to enter the then-growing NFT market. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger's expensive divorce

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver married in 1986, and for 25 years, they were a Hollywood power couple. From the outside looking in, their relationship seemed strong, but it wouldn't last. In May 2011, Shriver and Schwarzenegger ended their relationship. It was later revealed that Schwarzenegger fathered a son with a household employee 14 years earlier, which was likely the main impetus leading to the separation.

When they separated, there were considerable assets to divide, and it took a great deal of time to finalize their divorce. When it was finally concluded, ten years had passed, and the couple had remained physically close during that time to co-parent their children. According to US Weekly, because she was married to Schwarzenegger throughout his Hollywood career and governorship, she was entitled to half his earnings and assets from that period, per California law. As a result, Shriver was entitled to approximately $150 million when the divorce was finalized.

According to Radar, the divorce settlement also gave her half of Schwarzenegger's SAG pension and 100% of his estate upon death. In 2022, Celebrity Net Worth listed Shriver's finances at $200 million, but her ex-husband isn't her only source of income. TMZ revealed that she purchased a $10 million home after leaving Schwarzenegger, so she has some real estate of her own. Additionally, Shriver has a great deal of family money, as she's John F. Kennedy's niece, and the family has quite a fortune

He's a real estate magnate

Arnold Schwarzenegger began investing in real estate when he was still young. Per Celebrity Net Worth, he researched the California real estate market and purchased an apartment complex for $214,000. He held on to it for a year before selling it for $360,000, netting a handsome profit. He used the money from that sale to invest in more real estate, purchasing other buildings and then flipping them for more money after a short time. 

Schwarzenegger was already making bank before making it big in Hollywood, and that was due to his impressive business acumen. By 25, he was already a real estate millionaire, having owned and sold apartment buildings with as many as 100 units. In an interview with CNBC, Schwarzenegger explained, "Buildings that I would buy for $500K within a year were $800K, and I put only maybe $100K down, so you made 300% on your money."

When he hit it big, he didn't stop investing in real estate — quite the contrary. Schwarzenegger continued to purchase various properties throughout his life, amassing a real estate portfolio valued by Celebrity Net Worth at $100 million, which doesn't include any of his personal property. According to Fancy Pants Homes, Schwarzenegger owns several vacation properties worldwide, but he calls the Pacific Palisades his home. He currently lives in a high-end gated community in Los Angeles, where he owns a seven-bed, seven-bath property on 2.5 acres.

He's had numerous sponsors and endorsements

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a highly successful and influential athlete and actor for decades, so he's managed to snag some hefty endorsement contracts over the years. For instance, in 2022 he appeared opposite Selma Hayek as Zeus in a BMW ad aired during Super Bowl LVI (per People). His salary from that spot isn't public knowledge, but according to the New York Post, these sorts of ads can pay anything between $500,000 to $2 million.

Schwarzenegger has appeared in numerous commercials over the years. These include a 2014 Super Bowl ad for Bud Light, where he plays "Tiny Tennis" while wearing a ridiculous wig. He's also shilled quite heavily for the mobile phone game Mobile Strike, having appeared in numerous commercials, which he often narrates. One which aired during Super Bowl LI featured some of his famous one-liners, including "Get to the chopper" and "Hasta la vista, baby." The game's publisher reportedly paid $5 million for it, and a fair chunk likely went Schwarzenegger's way.

While he makes plenty from endorsements and corporate sponsors, he's lost some too. In 2021, he lost a sponsorship with REDCON1 when he criticized anti-maskers during the COVID-19 pandemic in a discussion with CNN. "Scr*w your freedom," he stated as part of a longer statement. "... You're a schmuck for not wearing a mask." Per USA Today, the sports supplement company subsequently announced an end to its agreement with Schwarzenegger. It's unknown how much this cost him in lost income.

Arnold is generous with his time and money

Like many notable celebrities with more money than 99% of the population, Arnold Schwarzenegger has donated to numerous charitable causes throughout his life. He advocates for youth athletics most of all, and in 1995, he founded After-School All-Stars. The national non-profit supports under-resourced middle school students with academic and athletic programs and opportunities. According to ASAS, it supports more than a quarter million children in 15 cities throughout the country. In 2020, the charity received a $3 million donation from TikTok (via TechCrunch).

The star has used his platform as both a celebrity and governor to create and support programs for various causes, including promoting the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative to combat the effects of global climate change. Schwarzenegger is also a celebrity ambassador for Afghanistan World Foundation, which supports programs aimed at enhancing education, economic development, emergency health services, and more in the wartorn country.

In terms of financial and property contributions, Schwarzenegger has given away quite a lot. In 2020, he donated $1 million to provide frontline responders battling Covid-19 with desperately needed medical supplies. In 2021, he donated 25 homes in the Los Angeles, California area to homeless veterans, providing $250,000 to the effort (per FOX 11 Los Angeles). These are only some recent examples of Schwarzenegger's boundless philanthropy as of this writing, and he's likely to continue to donate his time and money to worthy causes, as charity is something he's very passionate about