Pain, money and muscles: the stock market crash of Mark Wahlberg, the Hollywood star turned tycoon

Mark Wahlberg only responds to extremes: he has been one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, but also the least profitable. The most claimed by producers and not so much by academics. The one who lets himself be loved by Trump’s America, but was a donor to Barack Obama’s campaign because both Republicans and Democrats buy movie tickets. The most religious in Hollywood, to the point of stipulating periodic prayer breaks in his contracts, but also one of the most controversial and sexual: he became an icon as an underwear model in the 1990s, and as a rapper with an allergy to covering his ABS. A global star who achieved success thanks to roles of what they call there Regular Joe, ordinary guys involved in extraordinary situations who, based on conviction, faith and iron muscles, manage to overcome any obstacle. The success of Mark Wahlberg continues to be surrounded by curious paradoxes, but not so the multi-million dollar empire that he has forged thanks to a face that the average American embraces as his own and a devotion to entrepreneurship that already puts his fortune at some 400 million euros. However, the infallible investor is now in the news for an unexpected economic setback.

“A collapse.” The financial crisis in which one of the most ambitious businesses in Mark Wahlberg. The actor became in 2019 one of the largest shareholders of F45 Training, an Australian gym franchise that is committed to high-intensity functional training in sessions of just 45 minutes. His arrival as a franchisor and investor promoted the international expansion of the brand, today adding more than 1,700 centers on five continents. However, the meteoric growth has now been violently curbed by a stock market crash that has caused the value of its shares to fall by more than 60%, sponsored by macroeconomic circumstances, the lack of liquidity and the uncertainty about its viability. As pointed out The Financial Times, If a year ago the company’s share was paid at 17 dollars, now it barely exceeds two. The crisis has already claimed the head of the CEO of F45, Adam Gilchrist, in addition to announcing the dismissal of half of the corporate staff and the reduction by up to two-thirds of the number of gyms – some 1,000 centers – that they expected to open in the short term .

Mark Wahlberg with F45 founder Adam Gilchrist at the New York Stock Exchange in 2021.NOAM GALAI (Getty Images for F45 Training)

The skid is difficult to pin on a Mark Wahlberg who has gone to great lengths to make his most renowned friends, as well as himself, the best ambassadors for F45. He has not only used the media projection of him as a claim in the inauguration of dozens of centers, even earning criticism from public opinion for using his jet private to carry out trainings of less than an hour in different centers, but has filled their networks —his Instagram is a frenetic teleshopping— of photographs in which he shares sweat and hot flashes with stars like David Beckham, J Balvin, Cindy Crawford or Magic Johnson. While the company’s founder, Rob Deustch, has denounced on his Instagram account that “not even in his wildest dreams” would he have imagined a collapse of this caliber, the protagonist of fighter It has not yet ruled on this notorious business setback.

Married to the model Rhea Durham since 2009, after almost a decade of courtship, the 51-year-old interpreter offers an image of a devoted husband and exemplary father of the four children of the marriage. They are him, he corroborates him, the reason behind his capitalist endeavors: “I want to cultivate and build a business that can be passed on to future generations.” But his childhood was not so privileged. Walhberg grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Dorchester, in Boston, in a broken family of up to nine siblings. At 13, he dropped out of school and made crime his way of life, becoming addicted to alcohol and cocaine. He racked up dozens of arrests on his record until, at the age of 16, he beat a Vietnamese man, while hurling xenophobic insults at him, until he was unconscious. Then Wahlberg was accused of attempted murder and ended up entering a juvenile correctional facility for 45 days, more than enough time to feel the call and get away from bad company. Three years later, he was reaching number one on the album charts with his rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch to begin to travel, slowly but surely, the path of success that it is traveling today.

Mark Wahlberg, who stipulates periodic prayer breaks in his contracts, visiting a church in Montana.
Mark Wahlberg, who stipulates periodic prayer breaks in his contracts, visiting a church in Montana. Mat Hayward (Getty Images for Sony Pictures)

With the economic security that your work brings you in Hollywood, an industry that has made him one of the highest paid for his recurring role as an action hero, Walhberg has allowed himself the luxury of gradually gravitating towards the business world. “It’s fantastic to be able to make a living making movies. Being lucky enough to have such a great job allows me to dare later with these other bets, ”he was honest in an interview. Although it is common for today’s big stars to reconcile their artistic facet with investments in different business areas —there are dozens of those who boast their own brand of alcoholic beverage premiumfor example—, no other equals the volume and involvement of the actor.

First it was his own production company, supporting each of the projects starring him, but also series as successful as Entourage (The entourage) or Boardwalk Empire. Then his most iconic adventure would come, Wahlburgersa hamburger chain created together with his brothers Donnie and Paul that has given rise to more than fifty establishments, an exclusive line of slippers and even a reality show. It later opted for a network of Chevrolet dealerships, the bottled water company Aquahydrate, another food products and supplements company for athletes (Performance Inspired), a producer for non-fiction content and podcast (Unrealistic Ideas), the Municipal sports fashion firm or the brand of sneakers P448. His umpteenth adventure dates from this year, Flecha Azul tequila, which will compete in the market with those of colleagues such as Dwayne Johnson (Teremana), George Clooney (Casamigos) or Kevin Hart (Gran Coramino).

Image of Wahlburgers, the hamburger chain that the actor created with his brothers Donnie and Paul.
Image of Wahlburgers, the hamburger chain that the actor created with his brothers Donnie and Paul.

Such is the entrepreneurial vocation of the star who last year starred in the docuseries Wahl Street, available on HBO Max, and which aspired to show how he combines his business facet with the cinematographic and the Spartan routine that it entails. “I get up at half past two in the morning and go to the gym an hour later. I finish around half past five and go to work at half past seven. With many prayers in between”, points out the apprentice of Gordon Gecko. However, the plan was interrupted by the scourge of the pandemic and received a humbling cure in the form of stopped filming, closed establishments and canceled financing lines. From those powders to the current mud of the F45 gyms that, based on the character’s history, may not take long to transform into an unbeatable perch for a hypothetical second season of his series. “I have learned more from failures and losses than from victories,” he himself warned, almost as a prophecy, in the Wall Street Journal. “Social media is always showing us all the great successes, but I want to show the journey, the problems, the learning curve and the bumps along the way.” For that trip you don’t need panniers.

Mark Wahlberg, in 1991, when he called himself Marky Mark.
Mark Wahlberg, in 1991, when he called himself Marky Mark.Matt Green (Getty Images)

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Pain, money and muscles: the stock market crash of Mark Wahlberg, the Hollywood star turned tycoon


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