Cuban-American rapper Pitbull, 33, has just two years to make his dream of becoming a billion-dollar brand by age 35 into a reality.
“Do I think it’s realistic to be a billion-dollar company by [age] 35?,” he asks The Hollywood Reporter in a new cover story interview. “Absolutely.”
And it’s hard to not to believe him.
After just six years in the spotlight, Pitbull sums up his rise to fame into categories: “2009 is freedom; 2010, invasion; 2011, build empire; 2012, grow wealth; 2013, put the puzzle together; 2014, buckle up; 2015, make history.”
Thanks to seven albums, nine top 10 singles, and two No. 1 Billboard
hits with this year’s “Timber” and 2011’s “Give Me Everything,” Pitbull can now boast plenty of big brand name partnerships.
The rapper has sponsorships from Dr. Pepper, Kodak, Bud Light, Voli Vodka and, most recently, Playboy, which in March made him the new global face of the brand. He has a fragrance line, Pitbull Man and Pitbull Woman, which retail for $US30 for a 1 oz. bottle.
The partnerships, combined with 150 performances in 25 countries in 2012 alone and 8.5 million downloads in the U.S. on just his two No.1 songs, puts Pitbull’s net worth between $US11 and $US15 million, according to THR.
But don’t expect to see any high-end collaborations from the Florida-raised musician, á la Jay Z’s $US1,000 T-shirt for Barneys. Instead, he says he is doing things differently from his colleagues by committing to the middle class.
“We’re at the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn,” says Pitbull, a former drug dealer, quoting a “Rapper’s Delight” lyric. “The only business that I knew growing up was flipping — if I invested five dollars, I knew I could get back eight. If I got back eight, that meant I could live off three, invest another five, get another eight, stack another three. That’s what the music business is to me — flip after a flip, a flip after a flip.”
Pitbulls’ longtime manager, Charles Chavez, echoes his client’s sentiments of catering to the masses to live with the classes.
“We have a plan — with the music, TV projects [Pit boasts a development deal with Endemol, producer of Big Brother], films [he’s teamed up with Ryan Seacrest for a TV miniseries on the Bacardi family], his businesses, the brands that we get involved with,” says Chavez. “You never know, but it’s the plan.”
Part of that plan is playing into Pitbull’s cultural roots.
He explains, “I’ll be sitting in marketing meetings where they’re going, ‘Well, this is our multicultural budget,’ and ‘We’ll make this a multicultural campaign,’ and I say, ‘Great!’ knowing that they see me in the context of the Latin boom. ‘Oh, he’s the next Latin this or Latin that. …’ But in my mind, I know this is the general market. I touch everybody at the end of the day.”
But Pitbull knows that building an empire isn’t easy, and won’t happen overnight, which is why he preaches the importance of hard work to his six children.
“Why do interns make the best CEOs? Because they got the doughnuts and coffee, they cleaned the bathrooms,” he says. “They learned that building in and out.”
And ultimately, hard work pays off — getting him fans from all walks of life.
After headlining the recent iTunes Music Festival at South by Southwest, an inebriated Apple executive professed, “I love you, Pitbull.”
Read the rest of Pitbull’s THR profile here >
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