The world’s highest-paid celebrities earned a combined $6.1 billion before taxes and fees, a $200 million drop from 2019, after the global pandemic shuttered stadiums and silenced performances around the world. The decline was the first since 2016, the year after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao earned nearly half a billion dollars between them from
The world’s highest-paid celebrities earned a combined $6.1 billion before taxes and fees, a $200 million drop from 2019, after the global pandemic shuttered stadiums and silenced performances around the world. The decline was the first since 2016, the year after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao earned nearly half a billion dollars between them from the richest fight in boxing history. But even with Covid-19 lurking–and America on fire in every sense of the word following the murder of George Floyd–the show still went on.
The top earning celebrities were Kylie Jenner and Kanye West, who brought in $590 million and $170 million, respectively. West collected most of his earnings from his Yeezy sneakers deal with Adidas, while Jenner’s payday came from selling a 51% stake in her cosmetics firm to Coty in January. While she had exaggerated over the years about the size of her business, the money she pulled in from the deal was real–enough to rank as one of the biggest celebrity cashouts of all time.
Three streaming giants doled out $300 million to stars on the list, including Ryan Reynolds (No. 18, $71.5 million), Billie Eilish (No. 43, $53 million) and Jerry Seinfeld (No. 46, $51 million), with Netflix paying out more than two thirds of that.
Live shows drove career-best income for some of music’s biggest names, with Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour drawing 8.9 million fans and grossing $776 million over two-plus years to surpass U2’s all-time record for a single tour. Others will take a hit next year as tours for everyone from Taylor Swift (No. 25, $63.5 million) to Paul McCartney (No. 93, $37 million) have been cancelled because of the pandemic.
In sports, Roger Federer (No. 3, $106.3 million) is the first tennis player to earn the top spot among athletes on the list, while soccer’s Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 4, $105 million) became the first team player to earn $1 billion during his career. Naomi Osaka set her own record at No. 90, bringing in $37 million income, the most money any female athlete has ever made in a single year.
Podcasting makes its first appearance in the voice of Bill Simmons (No.13, $82.5 million), who sold his podcast company The Ringer to Spotify in February for $206 million. Another newcomer: Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda (No. 62, $45.5 million), who added to his haul from the Broadway hit in February when Walt Disney paid $75 million for the rights to air the filmed version of his Founding Father musical. Miranda joined a chorus of celebrities using their fame to speak out after the killing of Floyd: “It’s up to us, in words and deeds, to stand up for our fellow citizens.” He’s one of a growing group of stars working to enact systemic change. More than a dozen on the Celebrity 100 have invested or otherwise worked with Andreessen Horowitz’s Cultural Leadership Fund, which aims to expand investment opportunities and access to tech jobs among African Americans.
A full list of the 100 is below, plus further reading about the business behind the biggest stars.