Inside Nelly’s $70 Million Success Journey As He Readies For His Expanding Family with Ashanti

Many people know rapper Nelly as one of the hottest artists from the early 2000s. Hits like “Country Grammar,” “It’s Getting Hot In Here,” and the Grammy-winning song, “Dilemma” featuring Kelly Rowland put him on the music map.

Nelly and Ashanti (Photo via Instagram, @nelly)

Like many hip-hop artists, Nelly has business ventures outside of music. This route has led to the St. Louis recording artist amassing an estimated net worth of $70 million, creating a life for his family (daughter Chanelle, 29, and son Cornell Haynes III, 24) and a legacy for those to come.

The star and his celebrity girlfriend, Ashanti, with whom he recently reunited with after years apart, are rumored to be expecting their first child, according to US Weekly.

The 48-year-old, whose real name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., has made his wealth as a platinum-selling recording artist and songwriter, touring, acting, endorsement deals, and creating several businesses.

Music … It’s Hot in Herrrrre

Nelly popped on the rap scene with the release of his debut album, “Country Grammar,” in 2000. The record was super successful for the new artist and would go on to achieve diamond certification, selling over ten million units by 2016.

His sophomore album, “Nellyville” (2002), featuring chart-toppers like “Dilemma” and “Hot in Herre,” further solidified his status as an A-lister and platinum-selling artist.

Nelly’s musical evolution also saw him collaborate with artists outside the hip-hop genre. In 2004, he and Tim McGraw dropped a country record, “Over and Over.”

In a strategic move in July 2023, Nelly sold a 50 percent ownership stake in his music catalog to HarbourView Equity Partners for $50 million, valuing his entire catalog at $100 million.

Exploring Television and Film

Nelly has made a mark in Hollywood. His acting career kicked off with a memorable role as Earl Megget in “The Longest Yard” (2005) alongside Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.

He then had a run in several TV shows like “CSI: NY” (2008-2009) and “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (2013-2016). While he was successful in scripted television, it was his work in reality TV that made a dent for him on the screen.

In 2012, he starred in the short-lived “The Next: Fame is at Your Doorstep,” but in 2020, he starred in the 29th season of “Dancing With The Stars,” sharing with millions of Americans a different side of him and showcasing his dance moves. He came in third place for the season.

From Band-Aids to Boardrooms

Nelly’s entrepreneurial prowess extends to his successful collaborations and endorsements with major brands such as Ford Motor Company, Pimp Juice, Got Milk, and Reebok.

His energy drink venture, Pimp Juice, transformed from a mere endorsement to a lucrative investment.

The rapper, known for wearing Band-Aids on one of his cheeks, also ventured into the fashion industry, founding Apple Bottoms Jeans, a brand that gained immense popularity in the mid-to-late 2000s for fitting women with fuller figures, even hosting a model search for the brand on a VH1 reality show in 2008 called “The Apple Bottom Girl.”

Nelly’s commitment to pushing himself as a businessman is further underscored by his determination to revive Apple Bottoms Jeans, as indicated in a 2020 Instagram post that read, “It’s bout that time…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t call it a come back..!!!!!”

The website says that the new clothing line will return soon.

More than just a musician and a bankable celebrity, he also aspired to get into the adult beverage industry with MoShine, a triple-distilled, corn-based liquor developed in collaboration with the award-winning Piedmont Distiller.

Nelly was a part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats but sold his shares around the time Michael Jordan bought the team, which has since been renamed the Hornets.

Giving Back and Honoring His Sister

Nelly has demonstrated his commitment to community causes.

The radio staple founded the nonprofit organization Jes Us 4 Jackie, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of bone marrow donors in the African-American community. The effort was inspired by the death of his sister Jacqueline “Jackie” Donahue, who died after losing her fight with leukemia. One of his most moving performances on DWTS was in tribute to his sister. He danced to “Nobody Knows,” which was her favorite song.

Despite his great success, Nelly has faced challenges, notably in 2016 when he grappled with a substantial federal tax lien totaling over $2 million. Ultimately, the financial hurdles were overcome, showcasing Nelly’s resilience. He is in a happy space with the rekindling of his relationship with Ashanti — a possibly a new baby — and all of the new business sure to come his way.

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