Love him or loathe, you can’t deny Jeremy Clarkson knows how to bring home the bacon. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the controversial broadcaster and journalist is sat on the very healthy worth of $60 million. So, how exactly did he make such a huge pile? You’re about to find out.
After being expelled from his private school, “drinking, smoking and generally making a nuisance of himself”), Clarkson took his first job as a traveling salesman. Deciding that life on the road wasn’t quite his style, he re-trained as a journalist. His first opportunity to start writing about his passion for motors came with the Shropshire Star: clearly sensing he was on to a winner, he made the genre his specialty. By 1984, he was so immersed in the world of motoring (or more specifically, writing about it), he launched the Motoring Press Agency (MPA). From there, writing gigs with publications such as Performance Car and Top Gear magazine soon followed.
Since then, Clarkson has become as well (or even better) known for his broadcasting career as for his journalism- although that’s not to say he’s given up the pen completely. As well as writing columns for The Sun, The Sunday Times, and the Toronto Star, he’s enjoyed significant success as an author, publishing a huge selection of best-selling books about life, motors, and pretty much anything else that’ll sell.
After making his name in print journalism, Clarkson’s career went another level in 1988 when he was hired as one of the presenters of the BBC’s Top Gear. The man behind the decision to offer him the job was Jon Bentley, who explained his decision to the BBC with the words:
“He was what I was looking for – a writer who could make cars fun. He was irreverent, not respectfully po-faced. The fact he looked and sounded exactly like a public schoolboy didn’t matter. Nor did the hint of school bully about him. I knew he was the man for the job. Clarkson stood out. Even my bosses allowed themselves the odd titter.”
The first run of Top Gear was successful enough, as low budget, BBC2 programs about cars go. The second, which started airing in 2002, was something else entirely. With Clarkson now joined by new presenters James May and Richard Hammond, the show went stratospheric, propelling all three to international fame overnight and quickly becoming the most-watched TV show on BBC Two.
Considering the worldwide popularity of Top Gear, Clarkson’s take-home pay during the period was a relatively humble $4 million per year. But before you bring out the Kleenex and the violins, it’s worth noting his actual salary was only a tiny fraction of what he actually earned from the show. Thanks to the canny deal he struck when he took over presenting duties, Clarkson owned a significant 30% of the show until the BBC bought him out, meaning any licensing deals, merch, DVD sales, etc., contributed a healthy wodge to his back pocket (and when we say healthy, we mean healthy- his company, Bedder 6, earned £149m in revenue in 2012 alone). When the BBC bought the shares back in 2013, he netted around $21 million from the deal. There’s also that $7.5-13 million in bonuses he was reportedly earning….
The Amazon Deal
When Jeremy left Top Gear in 2015 (his time with the show ended in ignominy after he was accused of getting a little handy with his fists with a member of the crew during filming), he didn’t have too long to wait for his next big deal. In September that same year, he and the rest of his ex-Top Gear cohorts signed a huge deal with Amazon to star in a brand-new car series, titled the Grand Tour. For 36 episodes spread over the next three years, Amazon agreed to the huge sum of $250 million. Not all of that went Clarkson’s way, of course, but considering he personally made $46 million for agreeing to host the show, we doubt he was left feeling short-changed. The deal instantly made Jeremy one of the highest-paid British TV presenters, adding on a further $10 million to his then net worth of $50 million overnight.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
In 2018, Jeremy proved he could do a lot more than just talk about cars when he took over presenting duties from the previous host, Chris Tarrant, on ITV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It’s not the first time Clarkson has branched out from his regular hosting duties on Top Gear and The Grand Tour. Over the years, he’s made numerous one-off appearances on the likes of Who Do You Think You Are?, QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and TFI Friday, and played the part of regular host on TV shows such as Forza Motorsport 5, Jeremy Clarkson: The Greatest Raid of All Time, Inventions That Changed the World, The Victoria Cross: For Valour, Jeremy Clarkson: Meets the Neighbours, Clarkson, Robot Wars, and Jeremy Clarkson’s Extreme Machines.
Keen to capitalize on his popularity, Jeremy has released any number of DVDs, some revolving around cars, some revolving around, well, Clarkson. Some of his biggest sellers over the years have included Clarkson: No Limits (2002), Clarkson: Shoot Out (2003), Clarkson: Supercar Showdown (2007), Clarkson: The Italian Job (2010), and Clarkson: Powered Up (2011).
The Way to $60 million
So, there you have it. Over the past 2 decades, Jeremy has become one of, if not the, best-known TV personalities in the UK. Yes, he’s about as politically correct as a suitcase full of ivory, but as he and the rest of his The Grand Tour buddies have proven countless times, there’s no such thing as bad publicity… especially in the minds of the TV execs holding the purse strings.