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How Matt Stone Achieved a Net Worth of $700 Million

Sometimes, it feels like South Park has been a cultural phenomenon for as long as we have been alive. We can scarcely remember a moment when the show did not feel omnipresent and Matt Stone’s handiwork has played a major role in that. While you would expect Matt Stone's net worth to remain high, the actual number is a staggering one.

$700 million is nothing to sneeze at, and he still has his hands in a few different ventures. Of course, there are sure to be questions as to how he has managed to amass such a high net worth. To learn more about Matt Stone's net worth and the clause in his contract that has allowed him to reach these new financial heights, please be sure to read on.

Early Life and Career

Stone was born in Houston, Texas. His parents are economics professor Gerald Whitney Stone and Sheila Lois, who are both immortalized in South Park lore. The characters Gerald and Sheila Broflovski were named after them. He and his younger sister Rachel grew up in Littleton, Colorado, and graduated from Heritage High School.

After spending his childhood in suburban Colorado, Stone enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His father had his concerns about Stone’s career path. He was worried that his son would choose a major that limited his career choices. These concerns seem quaint now, but at the time, he believed his son would become a music major.

It is hard to believe that Stone’s father once worried that he would not choose a practical career path, but it was understandable at the moment. As a compromise, he and his father agreed that he would major in film and mathematics. In 1993, he graduated with a double major degree, earning his Bachelor of Arts in the process. The stage for his future success was also set during this time period.

In 1992, while still a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, Stone formed a production company, Avenging Conscience, alongside buddies Trey Parker and Ian Hardin. Their first project, a three-minute trailer for a fictional film called Alferd Packer: The Musical, went down such a storm with their fellow students that they decided to create the full-length movie.

After retitling it, Cannibal! The Musical!, the group sold the film rights to Troma Entertainment – the film subsequently went on to become a cult classic, giving them instant status in the industry and the impetus to jump stick to LA, get themselves a manager, a lawyer, and a script deal.

As it turned out, LA would prove a tougher nut to crack than Boulder, and it would be several years and numerous failed projects later until they enjoyed their first major triumph with Jesus vs. Santa, a short film that became one of the very first videos to go viral. Buoyed by their success, they decided to recreate the short as a TV series. The result was South Park.

How Did Matt Stone Make His Money?

South Park

Stone and Trey initially pitched the idea of South Park to Fox, but disturbed by the idea of a talking poo character, the studio declined to take it up. Conversely, MTV clearly had no problems with Mr. Hankey and commissioned the pair to develop the first series.

In August 1997, Comedy Central broadcast the first-ever episode of South Park. The show became an instant hit, pulling in around 3.5 to 5.5 million viewers per episode and becoming one of the most-watched shows on cable TV.

As Wiki notes, the merchandise proved just as popular as the show itself; by the end of 1998, Comedy Central had pulled in around $150 million in T-shirt sales, dolls, and other merch.

By the time Trey and Stone came to negotiate their contracts in 1998, Comedy Central was so desperate not to lose them that they offered a hefty slice of the merchandising rights and a seven-figure bonus to turn the show into a film. When it arrived the following June, the movie was a critical and commercial smash, grossing around $83 million at the box office. Over twenty years later, the South Park brand is still going strong and has even branched into music and video games.

The Contract Clause

Now, we are able to get down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to Matt Stone's net worth. Of course, any successful showrunner is going to be worth a sizable amount, but how did Matt Stone net worth rise to well over a half billion? As it turns out, he and Trey negotiated for a unique clause in their contracts that has allowed them to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.

When Stone and Trey negotiated their first contract with Comedy Central in 1997, they asked for something that, at that point, no one else was even thinking about… a 50% cut of any non-broadcast revenue.

In that pre-YouTube era, it meant nothing. Viacom happily complied with the request, no doubt chuckling to themselves that anyone would demand something so worthless. Twenty years later, the chuckles stopped when YouTube and other streaming channels suddenly transformed that little clause into a massive payday for Stone and Trey.

When the pair (who’d also managed to wangle the right to distribute the show digitally in whatever way they wanted) decided to beat the YouTube pirates at their own game by making every episode of the show available online for free, they earned a fortune in digital ad revenue.

And then along came Hulu offering $192 million (the largest amount ever offered for streaming rights at that time) for 4-year rights to their back catalog…

By this time, the execs at Viacom were no doubt ruing the day they’d signed that contract; when Stone and Trey marketed the franchise for $500 million at the end of their four years with Hulu (nabbing them each around $125 million), they must have been apoplectic. But a deal’s a deal, and despite some attempts by Viacom to find a hole in the contract, the pair’s lawyers had made it watertight.

Book of Mormon

South Park has unquestionably been a big money spinner for Stone, but his other activities haven’t exactly fallen short either. In 2006, Stone and Trey teamed up to begin work on creating a musical. The result, The Book of Mormon: The Musical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, finally premiered on Broadway in 2011.

After receiving widespread praise for almost every aspect (its plot, its score, its performances, its direction, its choreography, and pretty much everything else in between), not to mention nine Tony Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Stone and Trey decided to take the show on the road.

To date, it’s enjoyed two national tours, a Chicago production and a UK production, pulling in over $500 million in worldwide ticket sales and merchandise. With a film adaptation currently in pre-production, the pair can expect even greater returns on their efforts in the future.

Matt Stone’s Net Worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Matt Stone’s net worth remains at $700 million. With multiple streams of revenue to rely upon and a contract that uniquely positions him and Trey to take advantage of the streaming boom, his net worth is likely to increase during the years to come. As someone who refuses to give up on his principles, it is easy to see a universe where his net worth rises even further.

South Park Controversies

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have always referred to themselves as “equal opportunity offenders”. They are not biased towards any particular group and pride themselves on being fair and equitable with their mockery. While this is a commendable approach, it has not kept them safe from a wide range of controversies. Let’s take a closer look at some of the media firestorms that Matt Stone and Trey Parker have had to endure.

Scientology

As a religion that was founded relatively recently in the grand scheme of humanity, Scientology has always enjoyed a unique relationship with the entertainment industry. There are no shortage of Hollywood heavyweights who are practicing Scientologists, which causes a great deal of friction when their religion is mocked. This is not something that Trey Parker and Matt Stone tend to worry about.

In 2000, they parodied the religion during the MTV Movie Awards, taking direct aim at John Travolta. In subsequent episodes, Tom Cruise was also mocked. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this led to a full-scale investigation of Parker and Stone. The sect’s attempts to dig up dirt on the two came up empty but it was not for lack of effort.

Isaac Hayes’ Departure

Hayes’ depiction of Chef was a fan favorite but he would eventually decide to leave the show. He cited his objections to the manner in which the show would make fun of various religions as his reasoning for doing so. His departure was notable because it was caused by the aforementioned episode that mocked Tom Cruise and Scientology.

While “Trapped In The Closet” is often cited as one of the funniest episodes in the history of television, Hayes did not feel similarly. He did not speak of his disdain for the episode publicly but Parker and Stone confirmed that this was his reason for leaving. Eventually, it was revealed that the decision was not actually made by Hayes himself. His entourage signed off on it while he was incapacitated from a stroke that he suffered at the time.

The Virgin Mary

True to their word, Trey and Matt also managed to offend another major religious sect. The season 9 finale depicted a Virgin Mary in the throes of menstruation and a number of graphic jokes were based on this conceit. As you would expect, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights was not pleased with what they saw.

They demanded for the episode never to be seen again, campaigning to remove it from the Comedy Central programming rotation and for it to be omitted from future DVD pressings. Comedy Central decided to ignore these pleas. They also aired the episode ahead of schedule in foreign markets to take advantage of the controversy that was created.

Muhammad

Keeping with the theme of religious controversies, one of the biggest dust-ups that took place was centered around the show’s depiction of Muhammad. In a two-part episode that aired during Season 10, Trey and Matt crafted a plot wherein the Fox network aired an episode of Family Guy that contained an uncensored Muhammad depiction.

When Family Guy makes this controversial decision, the residents of South Park are left in fear of a violent reprisal. Muslim organizations were critical of this creative choice and Comedy Central was forced to censor the image out of concerns of their own. According to Parker and Stone, they respected the network’s decision because of their honesty about the situation.

Steve Irwin

The wildly popular wildlife expert and television host passed away in 2006 but this did not stop Parker and Stone from lampooning his passing shortly thereafter. In a season 10 episode that aired a mere seven weeks after his passing, Irwin was depicted with a stingray still lodged in his chest, a portrayal that struck many as being tasteless considering the lack of time that had passed.

According to Screen Rant, fans of the show and more casual viewers both found the Irwin joke to be in poor taste. To make matters even worse, Terri Irwin (Steve’s widow) spoke out against the show. Her primary concern was that their children would one day watch the episode.

Final Word

Thanks to a combination of his comedic instincts and business acumen, Matt Stone net worth has risen to $700 million since he got his start on Comedy Central. In a world where conversation around shows of this nature is only intensified due to social media, South Park‘s relevancy has only grown stronger. As the streaming era provides greater opportunities to creatives who thought ahead, we fully expect that his net worth will only continue to increase.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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