Joel Osteen's net worth has often been a hot subject of discussion, with estimated figures starting around $40 million. In the course of our research, we also found websites that mentioned the celebrity pastor as being worth $60 million and even $100 million.
The subject has popped up in the past, such as in 2017 when Osteen's megachurch purportedly didn't allow victims of Hurricane Harvey to use the building as a shelter. The famous Christian pastor has the job of leading Lakewood Church, which is located in Houston, Texas. His wife, Victoria, serves as co-pastor.
In August 2021, Osteen's net worth became the topic of a paid advertisement from the Definition.org website. The ad included a photograph of Osteen and his wife, and read: "[Gallery] This Pastor's Net Worth Has Followers Leaving The Church."
We clicked the ad. It led to a lengthy slideshow article with multiple pages. Osteen appeared on one of the pages with a net worth figure of $40 million. The website cited no sources or links whatsoever to back up the dollar amount.
In a Google search, the top result appeared as what Google calls a "featured snippet," meaning that information from a website is displayed above other search results.
This information that was displayed came from Wikipedia and claimed that "Osteen's net worth was variably reported to be $40 million and $60 million in 2017." This sentence had two citations from which this information was purportedly sourced. One of those citations went to an article on beliefnet.com, which mentioned $40 million. The website cited no sources whatsoever. The second citation led to The Christian Post and said that, "according to reports," Osteen's net worth was $60 million. For its citation, it linked to an unofficial website that provided no sources either.
All of this means that the dollar figure that was displayed at the top of Google search results is based on no real verified sources, nor is an explanation provided by any of the cited websites as to how they calculated their estimations. In fact, other websites outside of Wikipedia that are also listed prominently in Google search results claimed that Osteen's net worth was a whopping $100 million.
The truth of Osteen's net worth is not known. A range of $40 million to $100 million is a massive gap in what appears to be little more than guessing. What we know for sure is that the pastor appears to be worth millions of dollars, as his home is valued at around $10 million, as we reported in a different story. Readers looking for more about the pastor's wealth, including a rumor about a $325,000 Ferrari, can find additional details in that previous fact check.
It's important to remember the following: Net worth figures for celebrities that are found online are often not backed up by any real data other than guesses and prominent placement on Google. That prominent placement on Google at the top of the search results might give what appears to be some level of authority to the purported dollar amounts. However, as we found in the case of Osteen, clicking through to what are supposed to be sources for these numbers often leads to dead ends.
In short, net worth figures found online are often nothing more than guesses and estimates.