You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

How Jimmy Buffett Turned His Hit Song into a Billion-Dollar 'Margaritaville' Behemoth Jimmy Buffett passed away at the age of 76 on September 1.

By Sam Silverman

Key Takeaways

  • Jimmy Buffett owns dozens of businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and casinos.
  • He leaves behind a massive fortune.
entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jimmy Buffett's path from musical artist to entrepreneurship seemed like a natural pivot.

The "Margaritaville" singer, who died on September 1 at the age of 76 after battling Merkel cell skin cancer, is remembered for turning hit songs and an island-loving persona into a full-fledged business.

From the success of the 1977 song "Margaritaville," Buffett was inspired to start his Margaritaville brand of merch, restaurants, resorts, and more after the restaurant chain Chi-Chi's tried to trademark "Margaritaville" as a drink special, per The Austin Chronicle. Buffett sued and won in 1983, and from then on, Buffett turned the Margaritaville into money.

The Margaritaville brand was born in 1985 and grew from a T-shirt shop to the Margaritaville Cafe in Key West in 1987, per Florida Today. But Buffett didn't stop there. The Margaritaville brand has since expanded to hotels, casinos, cruises, and even retirement homes.

Keep scrolling for more details about Jimmy Buffett's entrepreneurship.

Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images | Jimmy Buffett performs at Old School Square in Delray Beach, Florida, on May 13, 2021. Buffett died Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, at age 76.

What Are Jimmy Buffett's Businesses?

After opening the first Margaritaville restaurant in Key West in 1987, he went on to open another at Universal Studio's City Walk in Orlando in 1999, per Florida Today. He later added hotels to his catalog after he licensed his name to a $50 million Florida hotel in 2010 in Pensacola. In 2015, he opened the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort in Florida and the Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham in St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.

Today, the Margaritaville brand includes 31 hotels and resorts across the U.S. including Margaritaville Palm Springs, Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island, and Margaritaville Resort Times Square. He also owns a Latitude Margaritaville, a retirement community with locations in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The Margaritaville umbrella also boasts a cruise line docked in Palm Beach, Florida, casinos such as the Margaritaville Casino in the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Radio Margaritaville on Sirius XM, a home decor line sold on the Margaritaville website, and tequila called Margaritaville sold at retailers like Drizly.

Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images | Margaritaville Resort Times Square "First Look" at Margaritaville Resort Times Square on June 10, 2021 in New York City.

Buffett's restaurant holdings include LandShark Bar & Grill with 17 locations across Florida and the south, and Cheeseburger in Paradise per Wall Street Journal, the latter of which was sold in 2012 for $11 million and later closed all its doors in 2020.

He also wrote three best-selling books – "Tales from Margaritaville," "Where Is Joe Merchant?" and a 1998 memoir, "A Pirate Looks at Fifty.

How Much Did He Make From His Music?

From the success of the 1977 song "Margaritaville," which spent 22 weeks on the Billboard chart at the time, and his several other hits including "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere," and "Son of a Sailor," Buffett has earned an estimated $570 million from tours and recording, according to Forbes. His music catalog is worth $50 million.

RELATED: All I Know About Marketing I Learned From Margaritas

What Is Jimmy Buffett's Net Worth?

At his time of death, Buffett was chairman of Margarita Holdings LLC and held a 28 percent stake in the company valued at $180 million, per Forbes. He also owned $140 million in private planes, properties, and stocks.

With his business assets and music revenue, Buffett earned a spot on Forbes' Billionaires list in April. In total, his net worth is estimated to be around $1 billion.

Sam Silverman

Content Strategy Editor

Sam Silverman is a content strategy editor at Entrepreneur Media. She specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), and her work can be found in The US Sun, Nicki Swift, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Health. She writes for our news team with a focus on investigating scandals. Her coverage and expertise span from business news, entrepreneurship, technology, and true crime, to the latest in entertainment and TV news. Sam is a graduate of Lehigh University and currently resides in NYC. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

Yes, You Can Buy a Foldable Tiny Home on Amazon — And Now It's Selling for Less Than $12,000

The waterproof and flameproof house was listed around $35,000 a few months ago.

Starting a Business

4 Common Mistakes That Will Spell Doom Your Ecommerce Business

It's hard to spot a success story before it happens, yet it's easy to tell if a business will struggle. With that in mind, here are the four most common mistakes people make that you should avoid when starting an ecommerce business.

Money & Finance

4 Things to Know About Credit Financing Your Business Following the 'Fed Pivot'

With cheap money behind us, you'll want to rethink how you finance your business

Side Hustle

This Insurance Agent Started a Side Hustle Inspired By Nostalgia for His Home State — Now It Earns Nearly $40,000 a Month

After moving to New York City, Danny Trejo started a business to stay in touch with his roots — literally.