What is a gold digger? Lately, the word has popped up everywhere, possible due to Kanye West’s hit song “Golddigger”, dedicated to women in search of money from their boyfriends and featuring a lick from Ray Charles. In truth, the concept of a “gold digger” has been around as long as there have been men in power and women who wanted them.
Some gold diggers make a name for themselves by hooking up with celebrities — people claim this title isn’t really fair, as anytime someone “marries up” they are accused of gold digging. However, circumstances around the relationship (How long did it last? Did anyone cheat? Did they seem to be in love? How old were the partners?) sometimes prove the nickname to be true.
Three Famous Gold Digger Stories
These three famous gold digger stories will get you familiar with the term, and the subtle differences between “marrying up” and outright “gold digging”.
While not exactly “sleazy”, Graham’s name has been in the news many times since his ‘spiritual union’ with mega billionaire Oprah Winfrey came into the public eye. Graham and Winfrey are not married, and probably never will be, preferring the ‘spiritual union’ label over any actual nuptials. The two were engaged to be wed in November of 1992, but the couple called off the wedding — in what is sure to be the worst day of Graham’s life.
Graham has been something of a source for controversy due to his close friendship and business dealings with Armstrong Williams, the businessman who was censured for taking government bribes after endorsing the No Child Left Behind Act. Graham is even part of a public relations firm with Williams, but was not accused of any wrongdoing when Williams’ crime was revealed.
The tabloids have had a field day with Graham, from claims that he is having affairs (with both women and men), to claims that Winfrey and Graham are “secretly married”, and of course Winfrey’s name is constantly appearing in trashy magazines around the corner, as she is accused of lesbian affairs and fights or breakups with Stedman.
The two met before Oprah was the mega star she is today, so that takes away from the argument that Graham is a gold digger — and as far as they’re not getting married is concerned, sure, it does look a bit like WInfrey is protecting her billions. But really, what man wouldn’t want to be involved with a filthy rich woman who refuses to get married? Graham is a lightweight as far as celeb gold diggers go, but the very fact of his being in a long term unmarried relationship to the wealthiest woman on the plant makes his case worth mentioning.
Anna Nicole Smith
The story of the poor stripper from the boondocks and her love affair with the incredibly rich oil baron is almost too good to be true. The story of Anna Nicole Smith is perhaps THE greatest celebrity gold digger story. Smith met the incredibly wealthy (and incredibly old and sickly) J. Howard Marshall while “dancing” at Gigi’s, a Houston strip club.
Marshall was 89 when the couple married (after Smith quickly divorced her then-husband Billy Wayne Smith, a line cook at a sleazy Houston diner) and he passed away within 13 months of their marriage. Smith eventually inherited $449 million, though the legal battle to obtain the money probably contributed much to her eventual drug and alcohol problems. Her inheritance, by the way, was eventually reduced to around $100 million, and the money is still being fought over in court in the name of Smith’s infant daughter.
The Smith case got weirder and weirder as time went on — Smith had a few starring roles in minor film and television projects, but her career was basically over by the time of her and her son Daniel’s deaths, less than 8 months apart in 2006 and 2007. Smith is a tragic gold digging case. She obviously married Marshall for his money, as the 89 year old could not have satisfied her sexually or emotionally, and was probably so ill that he was a bit out of his mind. If Smith did go after the elderly Marshall for his money, she got hers in the end — her story is one of the great tragedies of the 80s and 90s.
From a truly sad story we turn to an unbelievably funny one. Kevin Federline, a relatively unknown backup dancer for hip hop and R&B artists, is best known as Britney Spears ex-husband. Their marriage lasted longer than most expected, and at two years is pretty lengthy for a celebrity marriage. Federline had been engaged to actress Shar Jackson, and had two children with Jackson, when he suddenly split with her to “date” Britney. Federline split up an entire family just to make a run at Britney’s heart — though from all reports, he has maintained a healthy relationship with Jackson and their two children. Still, one solid sign of a gold digger is a person who will leave their family to chase after a wealthy or famous person, and this is exactly what “K-Fed” did.
Federline had two children with Spears, and in 2007 while Spears was in the middle of her infamous year long meltdown, Federline received custody of both of the kids. He receives $2,000 a month per child for support, and Spears also pays for any “other expenses” related to the raising of the children.
Federline didn’t count of the power of Spears pre-nuptial agreement — he didn’t make nearly as much money on this divorce as he would have if he’d refused to sign the pre-nup. Spears had to pay him $30,000 in spousal support for half the length of their marriage (meaning one year) — and this isn’t a bad salary for doing nothing at all. He also has the rights to 50% of the value of the mansion where they lived.
Because K-Fed was so unknown (and continued to prove himself a complete nobody), his case is a classic “gold dig”. He saw the tidal wave of fame surrounding Britney and wanted to sink his toe in the water. He has been relentlessly mocked in the media, but has come out alright — he is now seen as a capable father, and has several career choices, ranging from dancing to performing as a wrestler for the WWE.
Spotting A Gold Digger
When it comes to spotting a gold digger, remember that not everyone who dates higher than their own social class is a gold digger — I would put Stedman Graham in the “borderline” category. Still others are outright diggers — think Anna Nicole rising out of the ashes of a low rent Houston strip club to inherit her poor dead husband’s millions.
Be on the lookout for partners who seem more interested in your ATM receipt than in holding your hand or showing you off to their friends. As Kanye West famously said, “I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger, but . . .”