Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 1994, it is highly unlikely that you haven’t at least heard of the classic Oscar winning Forrest Gump. The film follows a simple Alabama man named Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) who, despite the doubts of everybody around him, has quite an extraordinary life. He becomes a college football star (and meets an American president), miraculously survives the Vietnam war as a hero (and meets yet another president), becomes a ping pong star for the All American team, starts the multi-million-dollar Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, invests in Apple, and starts a cult following by doing a cross-country run across the United States. His long list of achievements is quite unbelievable, but such a pleasure to watch, giving viewers the giddy feeling of hope and inspiration.
Gump was included in Forbes’ Fictional 15, an examination of the richest fictional characters across films, television, and movies (other characters include Richie Rich and the Beverly Hillbillies). They estimated his net worth to be at $5.7B. We decided to dig a little deeper and do our own evaluation, asking the question: How rich would Forrest Gump be if he were a real person?
Although much of the film is set in multiple locations in American and Vietnam, viewers always find themselves returning back to Forrest’s ancestral home in the fictitious Greenbow County, Alabama. Although set in Alabama, most of the film was actually shot in South Carolina. Considering the prices of Plantation-like estates today, we checked listing prices on Alabama Living’s website, and found that a home like Gump’s would be priced at an average of $1 million today. Unfortunately, the house in which the epic movie was filmed no longer stands. It was demolished after shooting wrapped.
Ping Pong Endorsement
After “being shot in the buttocks” at the Vietnam War, Forrest recovers in the hospital and learns that he has a natural talent for ping pong. The government finds out and Gump is asked to join the All American team and represent the United States in China during the Ping Pong Diplomacy Period of the early 1970s. When he returns home, ping pong racket brand Flex-O-Lite offers Gump an endorsement deal of $25,000, in which he accepts. Assuming that he was a ping pong star in 1970 (he went to the army at 1969 and went home shortly), his check for 25 grand would be around $163,477.45 in today’s currency, when adjusted to inflation.
Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company
As a promise to his best friend Bubba (who lost his life during the war), Forrest buys a shrimp boat and begins the Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company. After months of no success, Gump’s old army lieutenant Dan comes on as his partner. When the deadly Hurricane Carmen hits the South, Forrest and Dan’s boat is the sole surviving shrimping ship. With a monopoly on the business, the boy’s make it big (even landing on the cover of Fortune!). Assuming that they had something to do with the now-popular Bubba Gump chain of restaurants which opened in 1994, Prezi.com reports that they would be making a total of $8 million a year. Meaning Forrest would be racking in an annual income of $4 million.
Investment in Apple
The most impressive of Forrest’s investments would be his stake in Apple. After the success of Bubba Gump, Forrest narrates that Lt. Dan invested in “some kind of fruit company” and “that he didn’t have to worry anymore”. The camera pans to a letter Forrest receives with a rainbow Apple emblem on it, showing audiences that they had in fact invested in the future juggernaut tech company. According to CultOfMac.com, Forrest would own “a staggering 12 million shares in the Cupertino company, worth $7 billion” in today’s currency.
By Chino R. Hernandez