What Is Daniel Ruettiger’s Net Worth?

Daniel Ruettiger is an American motivational speaker and author who has a net worth of $500 thousand. Daniel Ruettiger is probably best known by his nickname “Rudy,” which is also the name of the 1993 film starring Sean Astin that told his life story. As the movie depicts, after numerous attempts, Ruettiger became a student at Notre Dame in the mid-seventies, with the hope of joining the football team. Despite being too short (he was 5 ft 6 in), Daniel was placed on the scout team. He was eventually put in a game as a defensive end. He quickly gained credibility when he sacked a quarterback in the only game he played. He was carried off the field by teammates, making him the first player in the school’s history to be carried off the field. Almost twenty years later, the blockbuster “Rudy” was made about his time as a Notre Dame football player.

After the Notre Dame years, Ruettiger became a motivational speaker, giving talks to school-age children, university students, and professional athletes. He has also published the books “Rudy’s Insights for Winning in Life,” “Rudy’s Lessons for Young Champions,” “Rudy & Friends,” and “Rudy: My Story.” Ruettiger set up The Rudy Foundation, a non-for-profit organization that helps develop programs that have a positive impact on children’s lives. The organization created the Rudy Award, which recognizes the achievements of high school and college football players.

Early Life

Daniel Ruettiger was born Daniel Eugene Ruettiger on August 23, 1948, in Joliet, Illinois. He grew up with 13 siblings in a German-American family. Due to his dyslexia, Daniel didn’t excel in school. He studied at Joliet Catholic High School, where he was a member of the football team under coach Gordie Gillespie. After graduating from high school, Ruettiger enlisted in the United States Navy and spent two years on a communications command ship as a yeoman. He later worked in a power plant. He applied to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, but he was not accepted because his grades weren’t high enough. Daniel attended Holy Cross College for two years, and after applying to Notre Dame a fourth time, he was accepted in 1974. While attending Holy Cross College, Ruettiger learned that he had dyslexia.


Though Daniel was just 5 ft 6 in tall and weighed 165 pounds, he made it onto the Notre Dame Fighting Irish scout team, which helped the varsity players practice for their games. After the 1974 season, head coach Ara Parseghian left the team, and Dan Devine, a former Green Bay Packers coach, took over his position. In Ruettiger’s last chance to play in a home game for Notre Dame, Devine put him into a November 1975 game against Georgia Tech as a defensive end. In the film “Rudy,” Devine is portrayed as an antagonist when this event is depicted, not wanting Ruettiger to put on his uniform for his final game, but in real life, it was Devine’s idea for Daniel to dress for the game. During Ruettiger’s last play as a member of the team, he recorded a sack against Rudy Allen, Georgia Tech’s quarterback. Ruettiger subsequently became the first-ever member of the Fighting Irish to be carried off the field after the game. Another teammate at the time was future NFL Hall of Famer, Joe Montana.


After college, Daniel owned a successful maintenance company and sold real estate. He returned to South Bend, Indiana, in 1986 and decided to try to sell the film rights to his story. The film “Rudy” was released in 1993, with Sean Astin portraying Ruettiger. “Rudy” was directed by David Anspaugh, and Angelo Pizzo wrote the screenplay. Daniel had a cameo in the film as a fan sitting behind Rudy’s father, who was played by Ned Beatty.

In 2004, “Rudy” was included on ESPN’s list of “The 25 Best Sports Movies.” The American Film Institute ranked the movie #54 on it’s list of the most inspiring films of the past 100 years. “Rudy” won a Studio Crystal Heart Award at the 1994 Heartland International Film Festival and earned a Young Artist Award nomination for Outstanding Family Motion Picture – Action/Adventure. Famed movie critic Roger Ebert said that the film “has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy’s dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It’s a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit.”

Daniel Ruettiger (U.S. Air Force photo/John Turner licensed via wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Personal Life

In 2011, Daniel’s position as the Chairman of Rudy Beverage, Inc. led to him being charged with securities fraud. The government alleged that Ruettiger was involved in a pump-and-dump scheme, and he ended up paying $382,866 in fines. In his book “Rudy: My Story,” he said of the incident, “I fell into the same obvious trap the rest of the country had fallen into in all of those boom years.” He added, “I shouldn’t have been chasing the money.” In 2017, Daniel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The Rudy Foundation gave out the inaugural College Football Rudy Award in January 2008. The award was created to honor players who “demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their teams.” In 2009, the Rudy Foundation created the High School Rudy Award to discover the “Rudy” on each of America’s high school football teams. In July 2009, Daniel has received honorary doctorates from Mercy University, Holy Cross College, and Long Island University. He was given a key to several cities in the U.S., and the Governor of Nevada declared an Official Rudy Award Day. Ruettiger was also inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame.

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