Money

The splurge Kevin Hart made with his first big check: 'It was stupid plus stupid, which equals stupid'

While he might be in the business of making people laugh, comedian and actor Kevin Hart's career achievements and financial success are no joke.

"Night School," a movie which Hart, 39, wrote and stars in, topped the domestic box office over the weekend with a whopping $28 million, making it the biggest debut of the year for a broad comedy. On Thursday, fans of the comedian also flocked to New York City's Madison Square Garden in droves for his stand-up performance "Irresponsible." The show, according to Hart, garnered an audience of 18,900 people.

But before Hart was a headliner, he splurged like any sports fan would after he got his first big paycheck at around 24-years-old, he tells CNBC Make It: He bought throwback jerseys.

It didn't matter the sport — he collected "any and every jersey that was a representation of a great athlete," Hart says on Thursday while promoting a tiny house he curated with Booking.com in Manhattan, New York.

Hart had jerseys from "Dr. J," a.k.a. '70s basketball star Julius Erving; '80s and '90s football players Reggie White and Randall Cunningham; as well as basketball legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

"You name it, I had it," Hart tells CNBC Make It. "That's where a bunch of money went."


It made Hart happy — for a minute.

"It felt great until I looked at that bank account and realized that I didn't have money, and said to myself, 'Where did my money go?'" Hart recalls. "And looked at a closet full of jerseys and said, 'Uh-oh. That's not good.'"

So how much did he spend on his collection of jerseys?

"If I had to put a number on it, I would say it was stupid plus stupid, which equals stupid, okay? I don't even feel comfortable talking about it," Hart says, laughing.

It was a lesson he learned the hard way. Hart was raised by a single mother in a rough area of Philadelphia, in a one-bedroom apartment. Since then, he's been hustling relentlessly and has been called the hardest-working person in show business. He faced failures early on in his career — including a slew of canceled pilots — but has since ascended to show business royalty. Hart has starred in hit movies like "Ride Along" and "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," and Forbes pegs his earnings for 2018 at $57 million.

Hart — who didn't grow up with much and then was suddenly flush with cash when he became a Hollywood hit — says he didn't fully understand the value of all that money until it was gone.

"In my defense, so many people don't understand the value of money until they have it, and then no longer have it," Hart explains. "So when you have it and lose it, you understand the value of it and its importance."

"And that's something I've realized as I got older," Hart adds. "To these younger generations, people just need to talk to them about money, so they don't make those stupid mistakes and they can prepare for the future."

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Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast owns Universal Pictures.