Howard Stern is among the wealthiest celebrities in the country and one of the most controversial. In recent years, he has softened his image – at least a little bit – by appearing on NBC’s America’s Got Talent as a judge for four seasons. The 62-year-old Queens native left the show after the 2015 season, leaving him to focus on what has made him famous in the first place, radio. Since 2004, Stern has had completely free reign on SiriusXM satellite radio with The Howard Stern Show.
Stern is the highest-paid media personality in the world, according to Forbes, earning an estimated $95 million last year. He ranked fifth overall on the magazine’s Celebrity 100 list, behind boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, singer Katy Perry and boy band One Direction. Celebrity Net Worth estimates that his net worth is at an astonishing $600 million.
Here’s a look at how Stern has made his money and what he does with it.
1. His First Sirius Contract Was Half A Billion Dollars & He Earned Even More in Bonuses
When Howard Stern made the jump from terrestrial radio to satellite in 2005, it was still a new thing and his embracing of the medium ensured its survival. But it cost Sirius half a billion dollars to sign him for his first five years.
As CNNMoney reported in 2006, Sirius signed him for $100 million for his first five years, plus bonuses if he reached a particular subscriber threshold. After his first first year, they hit those marks, so Stern and his agent were award 34.4 million shares of Sirius common stock. At the time, that was worth $216.6 million.
At the end of 2006, Sirius finished with over 6 million subscribers. After that year, Stern earned a bonus of 22 million shares of stock, worth an estimated $82.9 million, The New York Times reported at the time.
Stern signed a second five-year deal in December 2010 and by then, Sirius reached 20 million people.
2. He Walked Away From $15 Million a Year When He Left ‘America’s Got Talent’
When you make almost $100 million a year from your main job, you don’t need a second. Stern was reportedly paid $15 million a season to be a judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent from 2013 to 2015. NBC wanted Stern so badly that they moved the show to Radio City Music Hall in New York so Stern could be on the show and still host The Howard Stern Show. Stern was only signed to one-year contracts, so after each season, NBC had to wonder if he’d come back.
However, Stern backed out of the gig for the 2016 season because he was just too busy. So, the show moved back to Los Angeles and picked another high-paid media personality, Simon Cowell, to replace him. Oddly enough, this means that America’s talent is being evaluated by a judging panel with no Americans. (Mel B and Cowell are both British, Heidi Klum is German and Howie Mandel was born in Canada.)
During the 2015 AGT finale, Stern got a farewell video, seen below.
3. Stern’s Broadcasts Earned Half of the FCC’s Fines Between 1990 and 2004
Easily the biggest reason for Stern’s switch from Clear Channel and Infinity Broadcasting was the regulations from the Federal Communications Commission, which issued millions of dollars worth of fines to Stern’s employers. The fines eventually lead to Clear Channel pulling The Howard Stern Show from many of its stations. The Center for Public Integrity estimates that Stern received half of the FCC’s proposed $4.5 million fines between 1990 and 2004. In 1995, infinity paid a $1.7 million settlement for fines over Stern’s show.
Stern went several years without a fine from the FCC, but after the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show incident, the FCC began cracking down on indecency. Clear Channel was fined $495,000 in April 2004. A month earlier, the FCC proposed a $27,500 fine.
In 2004, CBS News reported that Stern believed that he was also getting bumped from Clear Channel stations because he frequently criticized George W. Bush, while a political action committee run by Clear Channel donated money to Republicans in 2004. Stern said in a statement that year:
It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S. It’s hard to reconcile this with the ‘land of the free’ and the ‘home of the brave.’
4. Stern & Wife Beth Became Invested in Saving Cats After the Death of Bulldog Bianca
It’s hard to see the tall, lanky and foul-mouthed Stern with tiny cats and kittens, but his life at home is filled with them. That’s because Stern and his wife Beth Ostrosky Stern, 43, rescue cats in their spare time. In November 2014, Beth told Us Weekly that they were up to 75 foster kittens living in their New York City home. They also own six cats.
“Having a pet only brings more love into a home and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Beth told Us Weekly. “It’s my joy!”
Beth’s Instagram page is filled with photos and videos of the cats playing around their home.
Beth has been a longtime animal rights activist and they really became invested in helping out after their 10-year-old bulldog Bianca died. Stern told Newsday in 2012 that Bianca was the “love of our lives.” The couple even had Bianca’s name tattooed on their arms.
They then started Bianca’s Furry Friends Campaign, which raises proceeds for the North Shore Animal League on Long Island.
5. Stern Bought a $52 Million Mansion in Palm Beach, Florida That’s Right on the Ocean
Stern might love New York City, but he can afford to escape the city for some beach time. In May 2013, the Palm Beach Daily News confirmed that Stern bought a $52 million oceanfront mansion in the very exclusive Florida community.
The property covers 39,094 square feet of living space, with a main house that covers 18,673 square feet and a second building that’s 1,196 square feet. There’s also a garden and swimming pool.
Stern also owned a summer home in Amagansett on Long Island, which he bought in 2002 for $5.5 million. However, in 2007, Variety reported that he listed the property for sale at $7.6 million after fans discovered that he lived there.
In New York, Stern gets to live in one of the most expensive apartment buildings in the city. The New York Post reported in November 2015 that Stern has lived at Millennium Tower, where one person bought two adjacent apartments for $6.65 million in April 2015. At the time of that report, there was a two-bedroom apartment for rent for $13,750 a month. Today, City Reality lists a one-bedroom apartment available at $1.99 million. In February 2008, Berg Properties reported that Stern bought two Millennium Tower apartments for $15.1 million, both below his penthouse apartment.