The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Celebrities pulled in $5.1 billion pretax over the past 12 months, more than the GDP of Belize, Gambia and Bhutan–combined. | Edited by Zack O’Malley Greenburg and Natalie Robehmed.
Taylor Swift has a certain attachment to the number 1989–it’s the year of her birth, the title of her latest multiplatinum album and the name of her record-smashing tour. She may soon have a new favorite: 170 million. That’s the number of dollars she raked in over the past year, easily enough to land her the No. 1 spot on the FORBES Celebrity 100 list of the world’s highest-paid entertainers.
Swift owes much of her payday to the aforementioned 1989 World Tour. Selling out stadiums to the tune of some $5 million per night in ticket sales, the pop superstar smashed the Rolling Stones’ North American touring record, grossing $200 million on the continent en route to a total of a quarter of a billion dollars for the tour. The singer also shills for brands including Diet Coke, Keds and Apple.
Fellow road warriors One Direction claim the second spot on the list with earnings of $110 million. The top-earning boyband of all time may be on hiatus, but the tail end of last year’s $200 million-plus On The Road Again tour kept their earnings higher than any active band—despite the departure of Zayn Malik from the group in March 2015. Author James Patterson pulled in $95 million to snag the No. 3 spot, while soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and personality Dr. Phil McGraw round out the top five with $88 million apiece.
“Before I take the first step, I know where I’m trying to get in the end,” McGraw once told FORBES. “And so I’ve always had a plan and everything is very goal oriented.”
The world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities pulled in $5.1 billion pretax during our June 2015 to June 2016 scoring period, more than the GDP of Belize, Gambia and Bhutan combined. Fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Figures are based on numbers from Nielsen, Pollstar, Box Office Mojo, Songkick and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders and many of the stars themselves. The result is the definitive index of who’s making what in the global business of fame.
To determine the Celebrity 100, FORBES evaluates front-of-the-camera talent across the entire entertainment world–idols from Hollywood to Bollywood appear alongside Swedish soccer stars and American basketball players–creating a truly international list. One third of this year’s Celeb 100 honorees hail from outside the U.S.
Among them: British songstress Adele (No. 9, $80.5 million), the only musician on our list who made more than half her money from music; Chinese actor Jackie Chan (No. 21, $61 million), whose mainland movies make him the world’s second-highest-paid actor; South Korean boyband Bigbang (No. 54, $44 million), the top earning K-Pop act of all time; and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen (No. 99, $30.5 million), who boasts fragrance and beauty deals with Chanel and Carolina Herrera, plus her own lines of lingerie and skincare products.
Of course, there are still plenty of Hollywood mainstays on the list. The comedian Kevin Hart (No. 6, $87.5 million) has been touring like a rock star with a gross north of $1 million per stop; actress Jennifer Lawrence (No. 50, $46 million) is once again the world’s best-paid leading lady; Dwayne Johnson (No. 19, $64.5 million) posted Rock-solid box office numbers to become the top-earning actor on the planet; and Kim Kardashian (No. 43, $51 million) made millions on her mobile game.
“I became really intrigued with the tech world. I started spending a lot of time in San Francisco,” Kardashian explained to FORBES without a hint of irony. “I realized this is really going to be the next cycle of my career and this is what I want to focus on.”
There is plenty of geographical diversity on the list, but the Celeb 100 underscores the chronic pay gap in the entertainment world: there are only 15 women on the list, down from 16 last year.
Still, there are hopeful signs–starting with outspoken stars like last year’s cover story subject, Katy Perry, who earned $135 million last year and added another $41 million to claim the No. 66 spot on this year’s list.
“I’m an entrepreneur,” she told FORBES. “I don’t want to shy away from it. I actually want to kind of grab it by its balls.”
Full Coverage: The Celebrity 100
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