21 billionaires who grew up poor

Get the Full StoryLucy Nicholson Reuters

Billionaires don't always come from moneyed backgrounds.

In fact, many famous billionaires actually grew up poor.

From George Soros to Larry Ellison to Oprah Winfrey, here's a look at how some of the wealthiest people on the planet came up from nothing.

Billionaires aren't all born with silver spoons in their mouths.

In fact, many came from nothing at all.

The "rags-to-riches" trope may be a clich , but it's one that's definitely grounded in reality for some famous billionaires.

Through extraordinary grit and perseverance, individuals across the globe have beat the odds and achieved their own rags-to-riches stories.

Here are 21 people who started off life poor and went on to become billionaires:Guy Lalibert was a fire-eater before founding Cirque du Soleil.

Michael Buckner Getty Images

Net worth: 1.2 billion

At the beginning of his career, Lalibert had fire in his belly literally. The Canadian-born circus busker played the accordion, walked on stilts, and ate fire.

Later on, Business Insider previously reported, he took a chance and flew a troupe from Quebec to Los Angeles without purchasing a return fair. The circus troup traveled to Las Vegas and became Cirque du Soleil.

Lalibert is now the CEO of Cirque de Soleil.

Alan Gerry kickstarted a TV network that went on to become Cablevision.

Jim McKnight AP Images

Net worth: 1.4 billion

The son of Russian immigrants, Alan Gerry dropped out of high school in order to pursue a career in the Marines.

Bloomberg reported that, after his stint in the military, Gerry went on to found "a tiny television repair business after training via the G.I. Bill."

In 1956, Gerry made the decision to take the 1,500 he earned from his small business, and found a cable company. The company went on to become known as Cablevision, which sold to Time Warner for an estimated 2.7 billion in 1996, according to Forbes.

Kenny Troutt, the founder of Excel Communications, paid his way through college by selling life insurance.

Jamie Squire Getty Images

Net worth: 1.4 billion

Troutt grew up with a bartender dad and paid for his own tuition at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance. He made most of his money from phone company Excel Communications, which he founded in 1988 and took public in 1996. Two years later, Troutt merged his company with Teleglobe in a 3.5 billion deal.

He's now retired and invests heavily in racehorses.

See the rest of the story at Business InsiderSee Also:4 smart things I did during college to kickstart my dream career19 signs your company doesn't care about youPrince Charles is worth up to 400 million thanks to assets like a medieval estate implicated in the Paradise Papers and an infamous prison take a look at how he spends his fortuneSEE ALSO: From fry-cook at McDonalds to waitress at Hooters, here are the unglamorous first jobs of 24 highly successful people

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