Four Totally Bizarre Celebrity Business Ventures
You know how they say that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well, when all you have is money, everything looks like a business opportunity. Throw in the, ahem, eccentric personalities of Hollywood, and the next thing you know, you have an NFT scheme that somehow involves $17 smoothies. Okay, maybe not that exact thing, but celebrities have definitely started some wacky, bizarre and even ruthless side hustles.
Susan Sarandon Is a Ping Pong Titan
No one is immune to the pressure to do dumb things to impress a guy, even the internet’s hot mommy. In 2009, some dudes became confusingly popular in New York City for throwing ping-pong parties, and when Susan Sarandon showed up and met one of the hosts, Jonathan Bricklin, she decided she was suddenly very into ping pong. She soon opened SPiN, a ping-pong club that turned those words into a thing that exists, for no reason other than the love of the game.
And by “love,” we mean “complete indifference to.” Sarandon admitted in 2013, “I’m not a competitive person, so I’m not one of those people who gets hooked on something and plays it constantly. So I’m just not very good." Still, the clubs have been inexplicably successful, opening several locations in cities around the world even after Sarandon and Bricklin split and her friends could theoretically stop pretending to like ping pong. He moved on to Picasso’s granddaughter, who also became an investor in the clubs. The BDE must be strong with this one.
Scarlett Johansson Opened a Popcorn Shop in France
It might sound like a hand in Cards Against Humanity, and not even a very good one, but there’s context that makes it make at least a little sense. In 2016, Scarlett Johansson was married to French businessman Romain Dauriac and living in Paris. She was a new mom in a foreign land, probably tripping balls on hormones and culture shock, so she did what Carrie Bradshaw almost certainly would have done if she’d stayed in Paris with Mikhail Baryshnikov: opened a twee novelty boutique that didn’t need to make any money.
Apparently, the resulting gourmet popcorn shop, Yummy Pop, was actually pretty good. It’s just that Parisians don’t really eat popcorn. Or snack at all. Or have much patience for rich Americans’ little retail whims. Reporters covering the store’s opening described interviews with locals who asked, “They only serve popcorn?” and one guy who “waited in line just to ask if it was made by the ‘woman from Lucy’ (he didn’t make a purchase).” In the end, Johansson abandoned ship when she divorced Dauriac the next year and couldn’t be enticed to remain in Paris for a popcorn store nobody wanted.
Akon Owns a Diamond Mine
In what was definitely a case of rap battle one-upmanship gone too far, Akon bought a South African diamond mine in the late 2000s, revealing his purchase in the shadiest way possible. “It’s real complicated. You can just know that I own it,” he didn’t really explain. After someone pointed out that diamond mines are kind of, um, bad, Akon further revealed that he doesn’t “believe” in blood diamonds. Not, like, doesn’t feel ethically conflicted about them — he doesn’t think they exist.
“That’s just a movie,” he told The Independent. “Think about it. Ain’t nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out. Where was all that shit before the movie? That’s the problem with people — they believe everything they read or see on TV. … It's no different from The Blair Witch Project. Everybody thought that was real. That campaign and marketing was incredible. After that, they’re getting Oscars.”
We don’t know if he meant The Blair Witch Project or 2006’s Blood Diamond, but to be clear, neither won any Oscars.
Katy Perry Is Basically Ebenezer Scrooge
Real estate is a common investment for rich people who don’t know what else to do with their money, and while the morality of landlording is up for debate, Katy Perry’s is decidedly not. In 2013, Perry decided to buy an L.A. convent owned by a group of nuns who pooled their money to buy it 40 years earlier, but the nuns wanted to sell it to someone else so it would remain open to the public, so Perry politely respected their wishes and continued her house hunt. Just kidding, she teamed up with the archdiocese to force those nuns out. The courts ruled that the convent was technically owned by the archdiocese, so the nuns had no say in the sale of their home, despite one of them literally dying in court to defend it.
You’d think the knowledge that a nun used her last words to beg you not to take her house would make you a little more thoughtful in your real estate dealings, but Perry seemed to only increase her mustache twirling, making a deal in 2020 for the home of an elderly veteran and refusing to go back on it after finding out he had dementia. Perry’s team argued that there was no evidence the man — currently living in a memory care facility — wasn’t of sound mind at the time of the sale, and a judge backed them up. Perry then sued the man for the rent she hadn’t been able to collect during the proceedings.
At this point, her Ghost of Christmas Present just shows up and sighs, “Really?”