The 20 richest celebrities in the world
Between endorsement deals, royalty payments, fat salaries, and a multitude of side hustles, celebrities' net worths can skyrocket into the hundreds of millions.
Wealth-X, a firm that conducts research on the super-wealthy, culled its data to compile a list of the 20 richest celebrities, considering only actors, musicians, and professional athletes who are still working today. That means billionaires like Oprah and Michael Jordan — who are in more managerial roles rather than performance roles — weren't considered for this list, and neither were people who work primarily behind the scenes, like directors and producers.
Though no one on this list cracked billionaire status, the top two names — pop star Madonna and professional golfer Tiger Woods — are close, with $910 million and $900 million in the bank, respectively. Jerry Seinfeld came in at No. 3, with a net worth of $860 million, making him the wealthiest comedian and actor in the world.
From Academy Award-winning actors to rappers-turned-producers, here are the wealthiest celebrities still in the game:
20. Gloria EstefanAstrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Net worth: $380 million
Listeners across the US first took notice of Gloria Estefan in the mid-1980s as the face of Miami Sound Machine, the pop-disco-salsa fusion band started by her husband, Emilio Estefan.
The Estefans turned the Latin pop group, originally a Spanish wedding band, into a mainstream hit machine. Gloria eventually went solo, Emilio started a record label, and the pair earned a combined 26 Grammys throughout their careers.
Gloria and Emilio reside in a four-bedroom home in Miami complete with a library, gym, and separate guest villa — but it wasn't always that way. Both Estefans emigrated from Cuba as children during Fidel Castro's reign in the 1950s and '60s and grew up with nothing.
Their music careers brought the pair affluence, and other ventures have padded their net worth further, including their multimedia entertainment company Estefan Enterprises, a stake in the Miami Dolphins, and ownership of a string of hotels and restaurants across Florida.
In 2013, the Estefans' story also became permanently preserved in "On Your Feet!" — a Broadway musical the couple produced themselves.
19. Tyler PerryKevin Winter/Getty
Net worth: $390 million
Playwright-turned-Hollywood-producer Tyler Perry is the creator of a popular stage play series he later adapted for film.
Perry has portrayed the frequent title character, Madea, an outspoken elderly black woman, in nearly two dozen plays and films since the late 1990s. To date, 16 Perry-branded films have grossed more than $765 million at the box office on budgets as low as $10 million.
Perry, who is based in Atlanta, established Tyler Perry Studios 10 years ago and is the creator of seven TV shows, four of which currently air on the Oprah Winfrey Network, including the hit drama "The Haves and the Have Nots" and the sitcom "Love Thy Neighbor."
18. Mel GibsonYves Herman/Reuters
Net worth: $400 million
Born in New York but raised in Australia, Mel Gibson got his start acting when he attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney.
After graduating in 1977, Gibson landed his first film role in "Summer City," a job that only paid him $400. He went on to act in a number of Australian plays and movies, including the "Mad Max" trilogy, before making a name for himself in the states.
A versatile actor, Gibson early on starred in films including "Hamlet" and the "Lethal Weapon" series, in which he received a $30 million paycheck for the fourth film.
In 1989, he expanded his résumé to include producer and director when he cofounded Icon Productions. He produced, directed, and acted in "Braveheart," which landed him two Academy Awards, for best picture and best director.
Gibson's biggest financial hit to date is "The Passion of the Christ," the 2004 religious epic he produced and directed. Though the film stirred some controversy, it only cost about $30 million to make and raked in nearly $612 million worldwide.
17. Johnny DeppJohn Phillips/Getty Images
Net worth: $440 million
Although he wanted to pursue music as a teen, Johnny Depp's early efforts in Los Angeles in the 1980s didn't catch fire, so Depp tried his hand at acting. He landed his first big role in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in 1984 and went on to star in the TV series "21 Jump Street" in 1987.
Depp's career skyrocketed from there as he became one of Hollywood's biggest names and befriended directors like Tim Burton.
In 2003, Depp transformed into Captain Jack Sparrow for "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl," which grossed $654 million worldwide and earned him an Oscar nod.
The "Pirates" franchise is Depp's most financially successful project to date, with the series' second installment, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," grossing more than $1 billion worldwide.
Depp's music dreams live on as well. He currently performs with his band, Hollywood Vampires, alongside rocker Alice Cooper.
He has also made headlines recently for darker reasons: In May, Amber Heard, then Depp's wife, spoke out against the actor, alleging domestic abuse and filing for divorce.
14. TIE: Tom HanksAnthony Harvey/Getty Images
Net worth: $470 million
The commercial success of Tom Hanks, an actor and producer whose career spans four decades and close to 45 lead-role films, ranks him the fourth highest-grossing actor at the box office.
Hanks started with minor TV and film roles in the 1980s and gained worldwide recognition after starring in several critically acclaimed films, including "Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump" (Hanks' second-highest-grossing film of all time), "Apollo 13," "Saving Private Ryan," and Pixar's multifilm megahit "Toy Story."
In 1998, the Academy Award winner founded the production company Playtone, a coproducer of box-office successes "The Polar Express," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," and "Mamma Mia!" It also produced multiple Emmy-winning TV series in partnership with HBO, including "Band of Brothers" and "Big Love."
14. TIE: Elton JohnMike Segar/Reuters
Net worth: $470 million
Elton John's nearly 50-year career started when he dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music to take on the music industry.He released his first album, "Empty Sky," after signing with DJM Records in 1969. Though the album wasn't a success, he went on to release a number of platinum albums such as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Rock of the Westies."
To date, John has released 27 platinum albums and sold over 250 million records worldwide.
John currently performs in Las Vegas. His "Million Dollar Piano" show started in 2011 and helped him earn a touring revenue of $11.4 million in 2015.
John's not just a performer, though. He cofounded Rocket Music Entertainment Group, an artist management company, and Rocket Pictures, a film production company. He has also had success on Broadway, cowriting the music for "Billy Elliot" and "Aida," which won him a Tony Award. The five-time Grammy winner's work on the "Lion King" movie soundtrack also landed him an Academy Award.
14. TIE: BeyoncéDaniela Vesco/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP Images
Net worth: $470 million
Born and raised in Houston, Beyoncé Knowles got her start as part of the all-female pop group Destiny's Child. From there, she went solo and dominated the 2000s and 2010s with catchy hits like "Crazy in Love" and "Single Ladies."
Along the way, Beyoncé also racked up a host of endorsement deals for brands like L'Oreal; starred in several films, including 2006's "Dreamgirls" alongside Jennifer Hudson; debuted her clothing line House of Deréon; and married rapper Jay Z — the couple is worth over $1 billion.
Beyoncé continues to dominate the pop-culture conversation, surprising fans in late 2013 when she dropped a new self-titled visual album without any marketing. Featuring hits such as "***Flawless" and "Drunk in Love," the album helped Beyoncé add three Grammys to her collection, making it 20 in total.
13. Mariah CareyFrederick M. Brown/Getty
Net worth: $520 million
Mariah Carey, the pop singer lauded for her legendary five-octave vocal range, primarily earned her fortune from a series of lucrative record deals.
At 18 years old, Carey was signed to Columbia Records, with which she released seven studio albums, including both her 1990 self-titled debut and one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time.
In 2001, she left Columbia for an unprecedented $80 million, five-album contract with Virgin Records. But after her film, "Glitter," and its accompanying soundtrack flopped, Virgin ended her contract after less than a year with a $28 million payout, which came on top of the reported $21 million she'd received upon signing.
Shortly after, Island Def Jam Records nabbed the Grammy winner with a $20 million deal. At Island Def Jam, she released five best-selling albums, including her "comeback" record, "The Emancipation of Mimi."
In 2012, Carey earned an estimated $18 million as a one-season judge on "American Idol." In mid-2015, she announced a residency in Las Vegas and a new contract with Epic Records, marking a celebrated return to her original Sony label.
12. Tom CruiseFeatureflash / Shutterstock.com
Net worth: $540 million
Before Tom Cruise became one of the world's most well-known actors, he had to borrow $800 from his stepfather to move to NYC to pursue his acting career.
In 1981, he debuted in the film "Endless Love," then got his big break when he starred in 1983's "Risky Business." The film grossed over $63 million, and Cruise's paycheck was $75,000.
From there, his career took off, and he became one of the most famous and successful A-list actors in Hollywood. He starred in hits like "Top Gun" and "Rain Man" before scoring big in what would become his most lucrative film franchise: "Mission: Impossible."
Cruise banked $70 million from the first installment by helping produce the film and negotiating a percentage of the box office receipts into his contract. Cruise has pocketed similarly gaudy payouts for the rest of the five-film franchise, which has grossed $2.7 billion worldwide at the box office.
11. Shah Rukh KhanJohn Phillips/Getty Images
Net worth: $550 million
Shah Rukh Khan — dubbed King Khan by fans — reigns as India's richest actor, dominating Bollywood over his 20-year career. His prolific résumé spans more than 50 titles, including the hit films "Chennai Express" and "My Name Is Khan."
But Khan's wealth stems primarily from his myriad endorsements — his roster can include upward of 20 partnerships at any given time — including cars, face cream, and paint. He's worked with major companies like Pepsi and Nokia, and even "toilet accessories" are on his radar.
Wealthy Indian couples also dole out around $15,000 to have him perform at their wedding, though these appearances are rare because of his limited schedule.
Khan owns his own production company, Red Chillies Entertainment, as well as the Kolkata Knight Riders, a cricket team in the Indian Premier League.
10. Jay ZGetty
Net worth: $570 million
Together with his wife, Beyoncé, 21-time Grammy winner Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is part of the music industry's first billion-dollar couple.
The rapper-producer runs a far-reaching business empire that began when he took over as president and CEO of Def Jam Records in 2004 — the company bought his label, Roc-A-Fella, for a reported $10 million shortly after signing an estimated $20 million renewal contract with him and two business partners.
In 2007, Jay Z sold his clothing label, Rocawear, to Iconix Brand Group for $204 million. He left Def Jam to found Roc Nation — a record label, entertainment, and sports marketing company — seeded by a $150 million, 10-year contract with Live Nation Entertainment.
Over the years, Jay Z cashed in on endorsements with brands like Duracell Powermat and Reebok as well as investments in restaurants and sports teams. He's currently the owner of Armand de Brignac, a high-end Champagne brand; the 40/40 Club, a chain of sports bars and lounges; and Tidal, a music streaming service, which Apple has reportedly been in talks with to acquire.
9. LeBron JamesEzra Shaw/Getty Images
Net worth: $600 million
The youngest person featured on this list, LeBron James started his NBA career straight out of high school when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though the Ohio native and three-time NBA champion has been among the highest-paid players since entering the league in 2003 — he's pulled in $170 million in NBA earnings — his real fortune stems from endorsements.
In 2006, James cofounded LRMR Marketing with childhood friend Maverick Carter and two other friends and has since made endorsement deals with companies such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Dunkin Donuts. His most lucrative partnership is with Nike, which in 2015 gave him a lifetime deal that reportedly could end up being worth north of $1 billion.
Though his basketball career and many endorsement deals have helped forge a net worth of $600 million, James has his hand in other ventures as well. He's the cofounder of PureBrands, which builds energy patches for athletes, and SpringHill Entertainment, a digital video and production company that inked a deal with Time Warner last year.
Last year, he made his Hollywood debut in "Trainwreck."
8. BonoDave Kotinsky/Getty Images
Net worth: $610 million
Irish rock group U2, led by frontman Bono, became one of the world's most popular bands in 1987 with the smash album "The Joshua Tree," which featured hits such as "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
The band's decadeslong career encompasses a string of No. 1 albums and 22 Grammy awards. They're still at it, too — "Songs of Innocence" dropped exclusively on iTunes in 2014, and a follow-up album is in the works.
Despite his full career with U2, a large percentage of Bono's fortune comes from his investment company, Elevation Partners. In 2009, the group purchased a 2.3% stake in Facebook, which has ballooned in value with the social network's stratospheric rise on the public markets and was worth an estimated $1.4 billion in 2015.
Always politically minded, Bono puts much of his wealth toward philanthropy and global causes. In 2005, he founded the One campaign, a movement that lobbies lawmakers to commit money to programs that fight poverty and disease. He launched Red in 2006 as a way for corporations to contribute to these causes through the sale of branded products.
7. Paul McCartneyGetty Images
Net worth: $690 million
British singer-songwriter Paul McCartney "invaded" America with rhythm and rock in the 1960s as a member of the Beatles, one of the most famous musical acts of all time. The group experienced immense success before disbanding, prompting McCartney to spend the better half of his decadeslong career as a solo artist.
The prolific musician was recently named the UK's most successful albums artist, with 700 million total albums sold and 22 No. 1 British albums, including four solo projects.
The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 18-time Grammy winner, and Academy Award winner recently wrapped up a world tour and announced his return to Capitol Records; he's spent the last several years producing albums through his own music publishing label, MPL Communications. Capitol will obtain McCartney's entire catalog of music in the "historic deal."
6. Céline DionMike Coppola/Getty Images
Net worth: $700 million
Céline Dion's prodigious $700 million fortune has been nearly four decades in the making.
Discovered at age 12 by her manager and husband, the late René Angélil, Dion released her first album in 1981.
The Canadian-born songstress got her start internationally before gaining recognition in the US. She has since sold over 52.5 million albums in the US. According to Billboard and Nielsen Soundscan, her best-selling album, "Falling Into You," sold 10.8 million copies in the US.
The five-time Grammy winner has consistently toured and performed throughout her nearly 40-year career. According to Forbes, Dion's Las Vegas residencies, which started in 2003, have raked in $260 million.
She's also part-owner of a restaurant called Schwartz's Deli and owner of artist management company Les Productions Feeling, both of which are in Montréal, Québec.
5. Dr. DreJason Kempin/Getty Images
Net worth: $730 million
Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre, got his start as a rapper in south central Los Angeles, where he rose to fame with rap group NWA in the late 1980s.
He left the group in 1992, releasing a solo album, "The Chronic," a year later, which went triple platinum and earned him a Grammy.
Dre then pivoted from performance to production, where he discovered and mentored some of the most prominent rappers in the game, including Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
Though Dre continues to produce, he expanded into retail with the introduction of now ubiquitous Beats by Dre headphones in 2006, adding streaming service Beats Music in 2014. Later that year, Apple bought the venture for $3 billion — at the time, its largest acquisition ever — earning Dre a major chunk of his fortune.
The NWA biopic, "Straight Outta Compton," which Dre coproduced, debuted in theaters in 2015, grossing over $200 million worldwide.
4. P. DiddyTheo Wargo/Getty
Net worth: $780 million
Music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs founded Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group in 1994 and established its flagship record label, Bad Boy Records, soon after, effectively launching his own hip-hop career and the careers of artists like Notorious BIG, Craig Mack, and Faith Evans.
He has also produced award-winning records and music videos for artists including Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, and Lil' Kim.
The entrepreneur's other ventures include his men's apparel label, Sean John; a multimillion-dollar co-ownership deal with the makers of Ciroc vodka; and co-ownership of Revolt TV and Media, a multiplatform music network.
3. Jerry SeinfeldRich Polk/Getty Images
Net worth: $860 million
Jerry Seinfeld made his stand-up debut in 1976 at the "Catch a Rising Star" open mic night. His career escalated when he landed spots on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and "Late Night with David Letterman."
His career-defining move came in 1989, when he and Larry David created his namesake smash sitcom, "Seinfeld." The show lasted nine seasons, and its season finale, at the time, was one of the most-watched season finales, with 76.3 million people tuning in.
In its last season, Seinfeld himself took home $1 million per episode. In 2014, it was estimated that the show has brought in $3.1 billion since entering syndication in 1995. In 2015, Hulu signed a licensing deal for $160 million to stream the show on its site.
Seinfeld is also president and owner of Columbus 81 Productions. He continues to perform his stand-up on tour, and his web series, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," is currently in its eighth season.
2. Tiger WoodsPatrick Smith/Getty Images
Net worth: $900 million
Tiger Woods showed an affinity for golf from a young age, competing in the 1995 Masters Tournament as a 19-year-old college student. But he didn't end up winning the tournament until two years later, when he trounced the competition by a record 12 strokes.
Woods' career exploded after that, and by 24, he had become the youngest person to ever win all four major golf titles.
But despite his abundant victories, less than 10% of Woods' earnings come from his prize money; it's almost all from endorsements. When he went pro, in 1996, Woods signed his first contract with Nike, a five-year deal paying $40 million, and has stayed with the brand ever since. Over his career, he has partnered with numerous other companies as well, from Gatorade to Buick to Gillette.
Though he remains the wealthiest athlete alive — and retains his Nike sponsorship — Woods' golf career has slowed in recent years.
1. MadonnaBobby Yip/Reuters
Net worth: $910 million
Legendary performer and recording artist Madonna has built a lucrative career in entertainment over more than three decades.
The seven-time Grammy winner wrapped her 10th world tour in March — her last under a $120 million, 10-year contract with Live Nation Entertainment. She's currently the highest-grossing solo touring artist in history, with combined ticket sales topping $1.3 billion.
The reigning Queen of Pop has sold more than 300 million albums. Her first No. 1 Billboard album, "Like a Virgin," debuted in 1984 and catapulted her into global superstardom.
In 1992, Madonna founded Maverick Records in partnership with Warner Bros. Entertainment, which signed her to a $60 million, multialbum contract. Maverick brought in $100 million in total profit by 2004, at which point Warner Bros. bought out Madonna and another executive for an estimated $10 million.
Madonna is also the founder of teenage-fashion line Material Girl and high-end fitness chain Hard Candy Fitness.
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