Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson III first rose to fame in 2003 with the release of his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Since then, he's released multiple top billboard hits and gained a reputation as an impressive entrepreneur. Ranked on Forbes's "Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists" list as recently as 2015, it came as a shock when he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy later that same year. Considering Jackson's deal with Vitaminwater boosted his net worth by over $100 million, many people were left wondering what could have possibly gone wrong.
Despite his unbelievable deal with the beverage company, the hit-making 50 Cent found himself in debt, and the way to bankruptcy was paved with bad business decisions and a tattered reputation. Since then, he's been slowly accumulating wealth and rebuilding himself as the rapper/business tycoon that once shocked the entertainment industry.
Coca-Cola Entered The Picture
50 Cent's deal with Vitaminwater was announced in late 2004, and soon after, he could be seen holding bottles of the beverage in ads across the country. Not only was 50 Cent able to make the brand more recognizable, but he was also ultimately able to pull it out of the new-age beverage niche and into the mainstream.
As Glacéau's sales skyrocketed, they began to attract more attention from larger corporations with their eye on cashing in on the new vitamin-infused water phenomenon. When all was said and done, it appeared Glacéau's plan was to enhance the brand's popularity and sell it to the highest bidder.
In 2007, that bidder was revealed to be Coca-Cola, who bought Glacéau for $4.1 billion.
He Received A Massive Payout From Coca-ColaPhoto: Raymond Boyd/Contributor / Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
The media took the news of the sale and ran with it, estimating 50 Cent's profits to be somewhere around $400 million. Such speculations later proved to be a bit ambitious, however, considering that other, larger stakeholders had to be paid out first. Regardless, Forbes estimated that 50 Cent must have walked away with profits somewhere in the range of $100 million, which is a pretty tidy sum for smiling next to a bottle of water.
He likely also pulled in extra revenue for an agreement that allowed Coca-Cola to continue using his image in their ads. Considering this was all in addition to his flourishing musical career and other side businesses, 50 was thriving.
He Leaked An Explicit Video And Ended Up Paying $5 Million For It
With 50 Cent's finances skyrocketing only a calamity could have put a halt to the profits. As it turns out, part of his financial demise ties back to the time-honored hip-hop tradition of dissing other rappers.
Plenty of 50's songs dissed other rappers, like Ja Rule and Jadakiss. But when 50 Cent picked fellow rapper and music executive Rick Ross as a target, he likely had no idea how out-of-hand the situation would get. 50 Cent mounted his attacks through a series of YouTube videos, some of which featured Tiallondra Kemp, one of Ross's exes. Basically, Kemp tried to give credence to the idea that Ross was a fake and not nearly as rich as he claimed. But things began to unravel when 50 Cent decided to target the mother of one of Ross's children, a woman named Lastonia Leviston, as well.
As things played out, a sort of back-and-forth insult war began, with 50 Cent and Ross attempting to one-up each other. What really pushed things over the edge, however, was when 50 Cent got hold of a sex tape that featured Leviston in 2009. As part of the rappers' continued rivalry, 50 Cent posted the video online along with commentary. Unsurprisingly, this did not go over well with Leviston, who filed a lawsuit.
In July 2015, the court ruled in her favor and ordered 50 Cent to pay her damages to the tune of $5 million. The next business day, 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
He Got Into Further Legal Trouble With Sleek Audio
50 Cent's legal troubles didn't end with Leviston, however, as he was also in the midst of a legal conflict with headphone manufacturing company Sleek Audio. He was supposedly set to rep the headphones at one point, but the company ultimately claimed he stole their designs and used the brand's trade secrets when developing his own headphone brand, SMS. Before long, Sleek Audio and 50 Cent, who claimed the audio company still owed him fees, ended up suing each other.
Things didn't go well for either party, as 50 Cent was forced to pay Sleek $16 million, and Sleek had to pay 50 Cent the $14.5 million they owed him. The case was settled in late 2016.