Richard Montañez's net worth: How rich is the Flamin'Hot inventor?

Richard Montañez's net worth: How rich is the Flamin'Hot inventor?

Richard Montañez is an American businessman, author and motivational speaker. After dropping out of school, Frito-Lay hired him as a janitor before becoming an executive in the company. Montañez is widely recognised for his claim of inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which Frito-Lay and other employees dispute. Nonetheless, many are curious about how much he made working at Frito-Lay for over four decades. So, what is Richard Montañez's net worth?

Richard Montañez's net worth
Richard Montañez at the Jackson family estate (L). The author and his wife, Judy, at the 2023 Impact Awards Gala (R). Photo: @hotcheetosrpm on Instagram, Kevin via Getty Images (modified by author)
Source: UGC


Montañez's story is a reflection of his creative mind and financial acumen. His rise from factory floors to corporate suites is nothing short of remarkable.

Hulu’s 2023 film Flamin’ Hot narrates Richard’s fascinating story as documented in his memoir, A Boy, a Burrito and a Cookie. This article highlights his career achievements, earnings and investment projects.

Richard Montañez's profile summary

Full nameRichard Montañez
Date of birth15 August 1958
Age65 years old (2024)
Zodiac signLeo
BirthplaceOntario, California, USA
Height5’6’’ (168 cm)
Weight75 kg (165 lbs)
Hair colourBlack
Eye colourDark brown
Marital statusMarried
SpouseJudy Montañez
ProfessionBusinessman, author, motivational speaker
Former employerFrito-Lay (PepsiCo subsidiary)
Net worth$15 million
Social mediaInstagramFacebook

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How old is Richard Montañez?

Richard Montañez (aged 65 as of 2024) was born on 15 August 1958 in Ontario, California, USA. One of 10 siblings, he grew up in a migrant labour camp in Guasti, an unincorporated community outside Los Angeles.

Richard Montañez's facts
Richard Montañez and Judy Montañez at the premiere of Flamin' Hot at the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at The Paramount Theatre. Photo: Daniel Boczarski
Source: Original

What is Richard Montañez’s net worth in 2024?

Wealthy Rich Celeb and The Personage estimate Richard’s net worth to be $15 million. He amassed most of his wealth as an employee of Frito-Lay before his retirement in 2019.

Today, Richard makes most of his income from motivational speaking engagements and book royalties from his two memoirs documenting his inspirational story.

How did Richard Montañez get rich?

Richard’s story is not just about wealth but a narrative of innovation meeting opportunity. Below are some revenue-generating channels that have contributed to his financial portfolio.


After dropping out of school, Montañez began working several low-paying jobs, including gardening and slaughtering chickens. He was working at a car wash when a friend pitched him an idea to apply for a job at Frito-Lay.

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Richard was later hired as a janitor. According to his account, the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos idea came to him after one of the company’s machines broke down, and he had to take home a batch of unflavoured snacks.

He seasoned them with spices similar to Mexican street corn. Montañez pitched the idea to the late CEO Roger Enrico, who took the proposition positively. He was invited to do an in-person presentation on this product that he felt would appeal to the growing Latino market.

Businessman Richard Montañez during a movie premiere at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Businessman Richard Montañez during a movie premiere at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in 2023. Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin
Source: UGC

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was approved for national release in 1992 after being in the test market for a short period. Newsweek reported that since then, the product has garnered billions in revenue.

But did Richard Montañez invent Flamin' Hot Cheetos? In May 2021, a Los Angeles Times article contended his claims of having invented the product. A Frito-Lay spokesperson stated:

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We value Richard's many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers. Still, we do not credit the creation of Flamin' Hot Cheetos or any Flamin' Hot products to him.

The company cited many inaccuracies in the businessman’s claims, including that Enrico did not join Frito-Lay until 1991.

In response, Richard disputed the allegations, maintaining his version of the story that he was, in fact, the creator of Hot Cheetos by Frito-Lay. A few days later, PepsiCo issued a lengthy statement addressing the matter:

The sincere truth is, at PepsiCo, we believe in the strength and power of teams, and we attribute the launch and success of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and other products to several people who worked at PepsiCo, including Richard Montañez. Far from being an urban legend, Richard had a remarkable 40-plus-year career at PepsiCo and, made an incredible impact on our business and employees and continues to serve as an inspiration today. His insights and ideas on how to better serve Hispanic consumers were invaluable and directly resulted in the success of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. To be clear, we have no reason to doubt the stories he shares about taking the initiative to create new product ideas for the Cheetos brand and pitching them to past PepsiCo leaders.

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Montañez’s last position at the company was vice president of multicultural sales and community promotions for PepsiCo North America.

Judy Montañez and Richard Montañez attending the 2023 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival
Judy Montañez and Richard Montañez at the 2023 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Photo: Mark Von Holden
Source: UGC

Authoring career

The businessman has written two books detailing his life experiences: A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie and Flamin' Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man's Rise from Janitor to Top Executive.

Where is Richard Montañez now?

Montañez served as the vice president of multicultural sales and community promotions for PepsiCo North America before his retirement in 2019. Currently, he is a motivational speaker who inspires others through his rags-to-riches story.

Richard Montañez's net worth is pretty impressive. It reflects his ability to create a unique niche that raised his career ranks from a janitor to an executive. His journey to the top inspires many who doubt their potential because of their current situation.

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Source: Briefly News

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