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Top 10 People Who Became Famous For Being Involved In A Scandal

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough These are instances of misconduct that led to pop culture prominence. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 people who became famous for being involved in a scandal. For this list, we're focusing on individuals that figuratively cashed in on random fame. Special thanks to our users MikeMJPMUNCH or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 People Who Became Famous For Being Involved In A Scandal

These are instances of misconduct that led to pop culture prominence. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 peoplewho became famous for being involved in a scandal.
For this list, we’re focusing on individuals that figuratively cashed in on random fame. To be eligible, they can’t have been particularly famous or in public consciousness before the scandal in question, nor should they come from a well-known family.  They must also be currently living. That being said, we’re excludingpeople like Edward Snowden, who exposed a scandal rather than being the primary focus of it.

#10: Rachel Uchitel

As a teenager, Rachel Uchitel lost her father to drugs, and years later she lost her fiancée in the 9/11 attacks. These events unquestionably shaped Uchitel's sense of security as she moved forward with her life as a VIP hostess in Las Vegas. If ever there was a man that could fill such a void, Tiger Woods certainly fit the criteria. By the time the golfer’s infamous 2009 scandal came to light, it was Uchitel’s name that emerged as his alleged first mistress. The subsequent media exposure changed her life less than a decade after first gaining attention through one of the darkest chapters of American history. And it didn’t stop there: the next year, she made headlines again after an alleged affair with married actor David Boreanaz.

#9: Kato Kaelin

With Hollywood scandals, the focus is usually the celebrity in question, with the incidental subjects seen only as minor bits of trivia. But that all changed with the O.J. Simpson trial, as blond-haired bro and minor witness Kato Kaelin gained considerable attention thanks to his clichéd California vibe. In other words, Kaelin had evolved into “that dude” who may or may not have heard a thump. And though all the media buzz didn’t necessarily reveal one of America’s finest actors, Kato certainly took advantage of the opportunity, elevating himself from d-list actor to a notable figure of pop culture, if only for his name. The trial also gave rise to rhyming lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who knew how the fame game worked and played it well.

#8: Rachel Dolezal

In theory, you can be anything you want to be in life. A doctor. An astronaut. Whatever floats your boat. But, the important thing is how you choose to present yourself.For Rachel Dolezal, her collegiate artwork must have been deeply personal, as she essentially transformed her look during the process of it and this ultimately led toa gig as the President of Spokane’s NAACP chapter. As was revealed in 2015, Dolezal may look a certain way, but she’s most definitely not a black woman, the evidence of which can be seen in photos of her as a younger woman. It’s a curious case of 21st century individualism, but the origin story tells a much different tale.

#7: Heidi Fleiss

Reflecting a more innocent time in Hollywood history, Heidi Fleiss ran a top-drawer prostitution ring that catered to anyone willing to cough up the money. After learning the tricks of the trade, Fleiss organized a well-oiled sex machine for Tinseltown, but the business hit the skids in 1993 when the feds caught on. As a result, Fleiss earned a variety of nicknames, such as the Hollywood Madam, from the media, who also spilled that she had a “black book” containing the names of all the naughty celebs that were clients. Although a citizen of a pre-reality TV world, Fleiss was a perfect fit when the format came around years later, and she appeared on shows like “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” and “Celebrity Big Brother.”

#6: Bernard ‘Bernie’ Madoff

In 2008, the preeminent wolf of Wall Street was Bernie Madoff. And that’s because when a massive ponzi scheme was uncovered, defrauding nearly 5,000 investors out of approximately $65 billion (though the court-appointed trustee estimated it’s more like $18 billion), it all led back to him. Long story short, Mr. Madoff destroyed the lives of those who trusted him, and in doing so, his actions led to a chain reaction of death and landed him a hefty sentence of 150 years behind bars. But like so many corrupt businessmen, sometimes they just want you to know their name and correlate it with some grand idea. Unfortunately, far too many are familiar with the name Bernie Madoff.

#5: Amy Fisher & Joey Buttafuoco

An average teenage girl from Long Island, Amy Fisher’s life took a drastic turn in 1992 - and you can blame at least part of it on sexy times with Joey Buttafuoco. Not only was he almost 20 years the girl’s senior, but he was also married. It was his wife Mary Jo that ultimately paid the price when Fisher shot her in the face with apistol. Inexplicably, however, the public couldn’t get enough of the “Long Island Lolita,” or saying the name “Buttafuoco”. Buttafu... that guy, served a little over four months jail time for statutory rape, while Fisher served seven years for aggravated assault. She later capitalized on her infamy with a brief career in porn. Mary Jo Buttafuoco, meanwhile, filed for divorce from Joey in 2003.

#4: John & Lorena Bobbitt

Meet Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt, a couple that experienced somewhat of a relationship fail in 1993. The couple was married just four years when Lorena made the couple household names. How? She cut off John's penis while he slept and toss the removed member out a car window. Lorena was found not guilty on the grounds of insanity fueled by a history of sexual and mental abuse. Meanwhile, John made multiple attempts to cash in on his notoriety by forming a band called “The Severed Parts” and appearing in two porno films. This story gets even stranger the more you look into it, but as a lasting legacy, the unspeakable act got a shout-outin the classic David Fincher film “Fight Club.” SO that’s something.

#3: Martin Shkreli

When Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the license for an antiparasitic medication called Daraprim in the latter half of 2015, the name Martin Shkreli meant nothing to pop culture pundits. But then he raised the price... by well over 5000%! Then he gave interviews that did little to change the public's view of him as anything other than a Bond villain. Perhaps it’s his League of Legends background or perhaps it’s pure greed, but Martin Shkreli loves the spotlight. He even managed to later acquire the lone copy of a Wu-Tang album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, only to then start a beef with Ghostface Killah. In essence, Shkreli seemed destined forscandal – and seems to care very little about the media nicknaming him the “most hated man in America.”

#2: Kim Kardashian

By early 2007, the voluptuous daughter of the late OJ Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian was known in certain, elite crowds for her socialite persona. But after the release of a revealing sex tape with Ray J, well, pop culture aficionados recognized that something big was about to happen with Kim K. Although Kardashian may, infact, be a marketing wizard when it comes to selling her brand, it was essentially introduced to the public by way of a bedroom romp. She may just be one of the many Kardashians, but the bulk of the family's fame hinges on this one hormone-driven character defining moment.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
V. Stiviano
Estella Marie Thompson [aka Divine Brown]
Michelle ‘Bombshell’ McGee
Casey Anthony

#1: Monica Lewinsky

For this scandal to unfold, a number of events had to transpire. For one, America had to elect a good ol’ boy to the Oval Office, and two, Monica Lewinsky, a Bel Air Prep graduate and later Santa Monica College student, had to land an internship at the White House. And finally, both parties involved had to agree that Oval Office oral sex was a good idea. Turns out though that… maybe it wasn't. At least, morally speaking. But, as Paula Jones – an ex-Arkansas state employee who filed a civil lawsuit against Clinton for allegedly sexually harassing her when he was Governor of Arkansas - and Linda Tripp – the White House co-worker who secretly taped her conversations with Lewinsky about Clinton - can attest, sometimes a little scandal can open up a larger discussion in society. And they can give the world at closer look at life in the White House. And though Monica Lewinsky probably didn’t expect all that fame, she certainly got it.
Do you agree with our list? Who do you remember becoming famous through a scandal? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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