BGT To Suddenly End As Simon Calls It Quits

You probably know Simon Cowell from his place at the judges table on America’s Got Talent, X Factor, and American Idol, offering hopeful talent a round of brutal honesty, or, more rarely, a smidgen of praise.

If Simon Cowell is applauding your audition, you are most definitely talented. The entertainment producer has worked his way up through the music industry since his time as a mailroom intern for EMI Music Publishing.

Today, he has a solid $570 million net worth, from his work as a television judge, talent consultant, and record-label founder. Here’s how Simon Cowell earned his multi-millions:

He dropped out of high school at 16 Cowell’s snarky side has served him well in the entertainment industry, but as far as school? His teachers were not having it, and apparently the famous judge got in trouble pretty often. Maybe it was because he didn’t like school at all. Cowell’s parents sent him to Dover College, a boarding school in Southeast England. He complained of being freezing cold and hungry, and he eventually dropped out at age 16.

He doesn’t regret the decision today. “Everyone has different views on this and I have been criticised [sic] for saying this in the past but I really feel bad for people who are like myself who were told if you don’t achieve this by the age of 16, 18, 21 your life is going to be a failure,” he told BBC Radio 2, reported by Independent.

After dropping out of college, Cowell’s father, a successful estate agent developer and music industry executive, set up several interviews to try and get his son a job. Cowell eventually landed a gig as a mailroom intern for EMI Music Publishing. He fell in love with music and worked his way up to an assistant for an A&R executive in 1979. After failing to land a promotion, Simon quit EMI to start E&S Music, which he later quit to start Fanfare Record with his colleague Iain Burton in 1985.

In the four years that it was established, Fanfare Records found very little success. Its breakout moment came when the hit song “So Macho” by Sinitta was released in 1986. By 1989, the company folded for good, and Cowell nearly went bankrupt.

He landed on his feet thanks to a job as an A&R consultant with BMG, where he was responsible for scouting new talent and musicians. This is where he really developed his eye for talent: The star signed many successful artists including boy band Westlife and the pop duo Robson & Jerome.

In 2001, Cowell teamed up with Simon Fuller to produce Pop Idol, a show in which the public chooses Britain’s next big music performance star, and then American Idol one year later. Both shows were instantly successful: Pop Idol’s first season attracted more than 11 million viewers, and American Idol doubled that with its first season finale.

Despite the widespread opinion that Cowell was a little too opinionated, the judge quickly rose to fame as these shows took off. He earned a cool $33 million per season of American Idol and went on to produce other successful musical talent show franchises such as X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, and America’s Got Talent. This was all while still earning income from the record labels he founded.

Cowell started his own record label S Records in 2002 and strategically signed the top two finalists from the first season of Pop Idol, who both went on to have number one hits in the U.K. One winner, Will Young, earned $1.8 million in sales with his debut single. Cowell, who owned half of Young’s shares, sold his share in S Records to BMG for $42 million.

Cowell also founded music and television company Syco Entertainment in 2003. Since its establishment, the company has sold more than 200 million albums and achieved 180 number-one singles worldwide. By 2017, Cowell was bringing in $95 million per year.

Cowell has a few mansions in the U.S. and beyond, including a neighboring mansion to Elton John’s place in Beverly Hills. He also owns a $10 million mansion in London’s “Golden Postcode,” better known as Holland Park. Add to that a $25 million, 10,000-square-foot property on the Malibu coast, as well as a $40 million, 10-bedroom estate in Barbados. Because why not?

The America’s Got Talent judge doesn’t just spend his money on luxe properties. He’s a big family man, with wife Lauren Silverman and five-year-old son Eric. He also is a huge animal person (who knew!). Cowell is a supporter of animal rights and has donated to Manchester Dogs’ Home. He’s also spoken on the behalf of PETA and against dog meat trading in Indonesia and South Korea. He has also donated more than $120,000 to support the Israeli Defense Forces.

Though American Idol is no longer on-air, America’s Got Talent, X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent are still going strong. It seems like the talent-seeker has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

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