Silvio Santos

Senor Abravanel (born December 12, 1930), known professionally as Silvio Santos,[1] is a Brazilian entrepreneur, media tycoon and television host. He is the owner of holdings that include SBT, the second largest television network in the country. His net worth was US$1.3 billion in 2013.[2] He is the presenter of the second oldest Brazilian program: Programa Silvio Santos (1963–present).

Silvio Santos
Silvio Santos in 2019
Senor Abravanel

(1930-12-12) December 12, 1930
OccupationTV host, businessman
Known forBrazilian media personality
Net worth US$ 1.3 billion (2013)
Children6 (including Patricia and Silvia)

He is also the only celebrity in the country on the list of billionaires by Forbes magazine. The magazine also states that "there is no one more famous than Silvio Santos in Brazil.[3]

Early life

Senor Abravanel is the son of Sephardic Jewish immigrants born in the Ottoman Empire. His father, Alberto Abravanel, was born in Thessalonica (today Greece) in 1897, and his mother, Rebecca Caro, was born in Smyrna (today Turkey) in 1907. Both died in Rio de Janeiro (in 1976 and 1989 respectively) and are buried side by side in the Jewish Cemetery of Caju in Rio de Janeiro city.[4] On his paternal side, Silvio Santos is a descendant of Isaac Abravanel.[5]

He worked on the streets of Rio de Janeiro as a street vendor at the age of 14. During this period, he was invited to work in a radio station, but as he made more money as a street vendor, he left the broadcaster job a month later.[4]

Later he went to São Paulo and after taking several different jobs that included prize raffling, he got a part on a TV show that was a major success. About the same time he bought the company (Baú da Felicidade) and in a short time expanded the leading brand of the group, which would be the starting point for Silvio to become one of the main names of Brazilian media.[6]

Finances and involvement in politics

With a net worth of R$3.2 billion (around US$800 million), Silvio Santos is the single biggest individual/natural person taxpayer in Brazil.[7]

In 1976, he started to fight for the rights of having his own television network, as he wanted to expand his prizes raffling.[8]

In 1981, he finally obtained permission to operate what would become TVS, in São Paulo. The TV channel expanded very quickly and became what today is known as SBT (acronym for Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão, translation: "Brazilian System of Television"), a brand that would be widespread throughout the country by the end of the 80s and early 90s.[8]

Silvio Santos also tried to get involved in politics and even ran for president in 1989.[8]

In 2008, Grupo Silvio Santos completed 50 years and was then formed by 44 companies, with ventures that range from agribusiness to banks and hotels.

Social impact

As he comes from a humble background, people tend to identify themselves with him and see him as proof that wealth can be achieved through hard work and persistence.[9] Another point is that, as he was born to immigrant parents, Silvio Santos embodies the concept that Brazilians are a mixture of several different ethnicities.

He is also responsible for providing access to major international TV programming, such as Celebrity Big Brother, Wheel of Fortune, Candid Camera, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, and Deal or No Deal.

Instead of just broadcasting these shows – which are mostly on pay TV channels – he created Brazilian versions so that people could not only watch the shows, but also participate in them as contestants buying the products of their sponsors or even other investments.

These shows usually attract middle-class people, as he would raffle money, houses, appliances, cars and even promote family reunions and marriages. However, it did not prevent him from inviting celebrities and politicians who would participate in his shows and donate their prizes to various charities.

His trajectory has led to many comparisons between him and Sir Richard Branson. Due to his extremely charismatic personality, Silvio became and is still one of the most influential and beloved people in Brazil.[10]

Due to his peculiar mannerisms, impersonations of him have become a staple of Brazilian humor.[11][12][13]

Santos's other trademark is wearing a full-size microphone on his chest (although he would eventually abandon this practice in late 2014).

He is also known for his great oratory, considered one of the greatest communicators of Brazil.

See also



  • Grinberg, Keila (2005). Os judeus no Brasil. Editora Record. ISBN 85-200-0699-X.

Further reading

  • Silva, Arlindo (2002). A fantástica história de Sílvio Santos. Editora do Brasil. ISBN 85-10-03063-4.
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