Ed Sheeran
English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran started off as a struggling artist, often spending nights in the London Underground’s train stations or on top of heating vents. Image Credit: Invision/AP

Before they were living the high life, some of the most recognisable faces in the world today didn’t know where their next meal would come from.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn about famous people who once had to endure the hardships that came with being ‘poor’.

Here are five rags-to-riches stories, from across industries, that will inspire you:

1. Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran Image Credit: NYT

Today, this English singer-songwriter is one of the biggest names in music. But he started off as a starving artist, often spending nights in the London Underground’s train stations or on top of heating vents. In his book, A Visual Journey, Sheeran wrote: “"There was an arch outside Buckingham Palace that has a heating duct and I spent a couple of nights there. That's where I wrote the song 'Homeless' and the lines 'It's not a homeless night for me, I'm just home less than I'd like to be’.” Today, his concerts sell out in stadiums across the world, and he’s estimated to have a net worth of $64 million (Dh235 million).

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Image Credit: AFP

The Austrian-American actor shot to fame with the Hollywood flick, The Terminator, and later became the governor of California, US. But when he was growing up, Schwarzenegger went for days without plumbing or a working phone, in post-World War II Austria. He once said in an interview that riots and food shortages regularly occurred in his neighbourhood when he was little. Today, Schwarzenegger is one of the richest action movie stars of all time, with a net worth of $400 million (Dh1.4 billion).

3. J.K. Rowling

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J. K. Rowling Image Credit: Gulf News archive

The story behind the English author of the Harry Potter books is well known. Before she had the idea for Harry Potter, Rowling was a single mother, struggling to pay her rent in the UK. She battled depression and extreme poverty, and faced several rejections for her manuscript, before producing one of the bestselling children’s book series in the world. Today, her net worth stands at $60 million (Dh220 million), and she’s seen both her books and the resulting film adaptations become enormous successes.

4. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio Image Credit: AFP

Italian businessman Leonardo Del Vecchio grew up as the child of a widowed mother who struggled to put food on the table. He eventually had to be sent to an orphanage, and to earn a living, went to work in a factory making moulds for auto parts and eyeglass frames. When he turned 23, Del Vecchio opened his own moulding shop – that little store would become Luxottica, the company that now manufactures eyeglass brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley. Today, Del Vecchio is valued to have a net worth of $25.1 billion (Dh91.82 billion).

5. Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz Image Credit: Reuters

Before he became the CEO of Starbucks, Schultz grew up as the son of a truck driver, in a family that struggled to make ends meet. However, with his athletic talent Schultz earned a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan in the US. He graduated with a degree in communications and went on to work for printer manufacturing company Xerox. However, everything changed when Schultz came across a small coffee shop called Starbucks, which he later joined as an executive, much to his mother’s dismay. She reportedly started crying when he broke the news, and said: “A coffee company? Are you crazy? Who’s going to buy coffee?” Schultz worked to grow Starbucks from a small coffee company to one with 60 stores, and then to a money-making behemoth with over 16,000 outlets around the world. Schultz stepped down as executive chairman of Starbucks in 2018, and his net worth is currently listed as $4.8 billion (Dh17.63 billion).

What do you think of these stories? Play today’s Spell It and let us know at games@gulfnews.com.