Famously Rich Celebrities Who Made Bank In 2016

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The 100 top-earning celebrities of 2016 earned a collective $5.1 billion.

Good Charlotte sang about the “lifestyles of the rich and the famous,” but just how rich are the famous? Thanks to the American business magazine Forbes we no longer have to guess. The magazine publishes an annual list of 100 global celebrities’ earnings, which is based on numbers from Pollstar, Nielsen, Box Office Mojo, IMDB and Songkick, as well as interviews with industry insiders and many of the celebs themselves.

For their June 2015 to June 2016 scoring period, the world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities banked a collective $5.1 billion pretax. In the number one slot on the list, with $170 million in earnings, Taylor Swift is the highest-paid celebrity of the year. The pop star rose from the number eight position in 2015 (with $80 million) to number one in 2016 by more than doubling her annual income.

Taylor Swift was the highest-paid celebrity in 2016.
Taylor Swift was the highest-paid celebrity in 2016.

Her affluence is thanks to The 1989 World Tour, according to Forbes, which she wrapped up at the end of 2015. The tour became the singer’s highest grossing tour to date, and made over $250 million globally in revenue. “[Taylor Swift] also pads her pocketbook by shilling for brands including Diet Coke, Keds and Apple,” reports the magazine.

The second spot on the list is occupied by boy band One Direction, who earned $110 million and, like Taylor Swift, made bank because of a world tour (the On the Road Again Tour 2015). One Direction is also the top earner in the United Kingdom.

For the third year in a row, James Patterson is the highest-paid author. He claims the number three slot on the list with $95 million in earnings. The bestselling author publishes over a dozen books a year, and his work is often adapted for film and television. However, according to Forbes, most of his revenue stems from book sales and relatively little from television and film royalties.

Tied in the fourth position are television personality Dr. Phil McGraw and professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo with $88 million each. “[Dr. Phil McGraw] earns a sizable cut of profit from his eponymous daytime show,” reports Forbes. The psychologist is also an executive producer on the television show The Doctors, and has partnered with AARP and AstraZeneca.

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Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo was the world’s highest paid athlete in 2016. Photo by Ludovic_P

The Portuguese Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2016. His annual income for the scoring period, according to Forbes, amounted to $56 million in salary and winnings, and $32 million in endorsement deals (predominantly with Nike).

“’Live entertainment continues to supercharge the earnings of the world’s top stars,” says Zack O’Malley Greenburg, Forbes’ senior editor of media and entertainment. “From soccer games in Spain to concerts in China, fans are willing to shell out to see big names – and this is driving the celebrity economy to ever greater heights.”

The top earners per category are:





MusiciansTaylor Swift

$170 M


AuthorsJames Patterson

$95 M


AthletesCristiano Ronaldo

$88 M


PersonalitiesDr. Phil McGraw

$88 M


ComediansKevin Hart

$87.5 M


ActorsDwayne Johnson

$64.5 M


MagiciansDavid Copperfield

$64 M


ActressesJennifer Lawrence

$46 M


Television actressesSofía Vergara

$43 M


ModelsGisele Bündchen

$30.5 M


The full Celebrity 100 2016 list can be viewed here.

There are only 15 women on the list – one less than the previous year. The youngest celebrity on the list is 22-year-old singer Justin Bieber, earning $56 M, and the oldest top-earner is 74-year-old daytime TV’s chief justice Judy Sheindlin, with $47 Million. Judge Judy, as she is known, also ranks number 52 on Forbes’ list of America’s Self-Made Women (2016).

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Justin Bieber was the youngest top-earner of 2016. Photo by Themeplus

The world’s highest-paid celebrity couple of 2016, according to Forbes, is Beyoncé and Jay Z – with a total combined income of $107.5 million. Singer Beyoncé claimed the number 34 slot on the Celebrity 100 list by earning $54 million, while her rapper hubby slid into the number 36 slot by earning $53.5 million.

Some celebrities listed on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list of 2015 failed to make enough money to be included in the 2016 list. A total of 34 celebs were dropped from the list, including boxer Manny Pacquiao (who were the second-highest earner in 2015); singers Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble, Bruno Mars and Tim McGraw; actors Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio; and actress Scarlett Johansson.

Then there are celebrities who are not even able to enjoy the money they are still raking in after their death. In 2015 Forbes published a list of top-earning dead celebrities. At the top of the list is Michael Jackson with earnings of $115 million. “The King of Pop has earned nine figures every full year since his death in 2009,” reports the magazine.

The full Top-Earning Dead Celebrities 2015 list can be viewed here.


Forbes, Wikipedia