Top 20 Highest Paid Celebrities of 2015

The lives of celebrities make for headline news and for Internet page views on a weekly basis. Those of us in the public seemingly cannot get enough of reading and hearing about the actions of those who happen to be rich and famous. Individuals who are mentioned among the highest-paid celebrities in any given year are superstars all over the world, and thus they generate attention when they merely step outside of their homes let alone when they attend events such as movie premieres, awards shows and concerts. Social media websites such as Twitter have only increased the coverage of the whereabouts of international celebrities.

One of the reasons that the public is so interested in following the lives of such celebrities is because those individuals have what everyday citizens perceive to be endless amounts of cash. The man who is said by Forbes to be the 20th highest-paid celebrity in the world for 2015 is, according to that website, set to earn over $60 million this year. That's not bad money if you can get it. At the opposite end of the spectrum is an athlete who supposedly made more cash than any other celebrity over the past year, a man who smiled all the way to the bank after one of the more disappointing sporting events in recent memory.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 David Copperfield: $63 million in earnings

The majority of those in the public know David Copperfield for the tricks and illusions that he pulls off during shows and public appearances. While he has enjoyed decades of success in that field, Copperfield has also branched out and gotten involved in other businesses. He currently owns a private resort that is made up of 11 islands in the Bahamas. Copperfield has also, over the years, reportedly had relationships with supermodels. That is the type of life one can enjoy when he sells what was, as of 2006, over 40 million tickets for his shows and grossed over a billion dollars.

19 Justin Timberlake: $63.5 million

An era that produced boy bands and cookie-cutter pop music acts also happened to be responsible for a man who emerged as one of the top solo superstar acts of his time. Justin Timberlake is pop music royalty who sells out arenas all around the world whenever he headlines shows. He is, however, far more than just a music act. Timberlake has also worked as an actor in roles that earned him praise from critics and from viewers. His relationship with actress Jessica Biel have earned Timberlake additional headlines over the years, although he certainly has not needed the help in that department.

18 LeBron James: $65 million

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports Images

The greatest basketball player of his generation had quite the banner year even though he did not hoist any National Basketball Association hardware this time around. LeBron James' emotional return home to northeast Ohio and to the Cleveland Cavaliers was one of the more positive sports stories of 2014, and it served as a financial injection of life into a region that badly needed the boost. The NBA salary cap is set to rise over the next couple of years, and thus James and other top-tier basketball players are only going to shoot up such lists in the foreseeable future.

17 Calvin Harris: $66 million

16 Roger Federer: $67 million

No athlete, however great he may be during his best days in his business, can outrun Father Time. Roger Federer has been one of the best tennis players to ever take part in the sport professionally, and the veteran was a joy to watch during the prime of his career. Federer is in the twilight of his career, and all indications are that he will never again be the No. 1 rated overall player in the world. He is now looking to prove critics wrong and show the world that he can once again win at a Grand Slam event. That would, at this stage of his career, be quite the story.

15 Dr. Phil McGraw: $70 million

Cherish your close personal friendships, everybody. You never know when one might be life-changing. Dr. Phil was an unknown to the majority of the public until he was introduced to worldwide audiences thanks to television icon Oprah Winfrey. He has, since those days, emerged as a star all on his own. Dr. Phil is a midweek television mainstay who has also authored books and who has also played himself in multiple television appearances. He has been mocked during some TV shows, sure, but there is no joke to be made about the millions of dollars he makes every year these days.

14 The Eagles: $73.5 million

Via blog.ticketmaster.com

Yes, those Eagles remain in the group of the highest-paid celebrities in the world even though the group has been around for over four decades. While the classic rock band is more known now for what it produced years ago, the group does not fail to draw crowds wherever it plays. Some have gone so far to call The Eagles the most-successful American band in the history of the country. One cannot argue with the stats that show that the Eagles have sold millions and millions of records since the days of the Hotel California album that remains a true music gem.

13 Lionel Messi: $74 million

Some might expect to see Lionel Messi higher on this list. Messi is, after all, arguably the greatest athlete in what is the world's most popular sport. The Barcelona star serves as the face of the FIFA video game franchise. Messi helped lead the Spanish giants to a successful 2014-15 campaign, one during which Barcelona won the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League trophies. He is now in the prime of his career, and thus Messi is going to earn even greater wealth over the next several years. Could he crack into the top-ten in 2016? We will see.

12 Ellen DeGeneres: $75 million

11 Rush Limbaugh: $79 million

Via youtube.com

He is as polarizing a figure as the American radio business has ever had. Those who listen to Rush Limbaugh whenever he is on the air would proclaim that he is a conservative who is not afraid to speak his mind and tell the truth regardless of how controversial doing so may be in the eyes of some. Others, however, would say that Limbaugh is a hate-filled individual who has made a fortune off of delivering his messages to the masses since he became a celebrity radio host. Everybody can, whether they like it or not, agree that Limbaugh has financially been a success.

10 Cristiano Ronaldo: $79.5 million

Those in the camp of the Real Madrid superstar have done well to realize that a person being a great athlete is not enough for him to become an international icon. One must also become his own brand, and that notion has been embraced by Cristiano Ronaldo over the years. Along with being one of the greatest footballers of his generation, Ronaldo has also served as a model and a front man for advertising campaigns that have netted him large amounts of cash. He will likely follow the steps of David Beckham and become the latest face of Major League Soccer and North American professional soccer before the decade comes to an end.

9 8 (tied). Taylor Swift: $80 million

It seems as if it was in a different lifetime when Taylor Swift was the country music starlet who strummed on her guitar and sang ballads about former and would-be boyfriends. Swift is now one of the top draws in all of the music world, selling out shows around the world and making buzz anytime she posts pictures on websites such as Instagram. Swift's music videos generate millions of page views on websites such as YouTube, and she also turned the clock back with her 1989 album that actually made it cool for younger audience to purchase physical CDs.

8 8 (tied). Robert Downey Jr. $80 million

No actor in the updated Forbes list made more money in the past year than Robert Downey Jr. Downey has been at it in the industry since a young age, and his roller coaster ride as an actor has been followed by the press and by fans for decades. It may have taken longer than some thought for the event to occur, but the days of Downey no longer being involved with a so-called “summer blockbuster” movie are well into the past. Along with the success that Downey has had playing roles such as Tony Stark, he has also served as a recording artist who can be heard on soft-rock radio every Christmas season.

7 James Patterson: $89 million

Via desktophdphotos.com

Keep at it, would-be authors. All it takes is one book catching on for you to become a household name who pops up on best-sellers lists whenever you release a new title. Most would recognize James Patterson for the numerous books that he has produced, not all of which have earned him positive reviews from critics and from fans. Patterson has managed to become a brand of his own that is linked with movie projects. One may not love all of his work, but Patterson has become the gold standard for what modern authors should deem as success in a world of e-books and made-for-TV movies.

6 Garth Brooks: $90 million

Via buffalo.com

5 Howard Stern: $90 million

Via youtube.com

The rumors have existed for years that Howard Stern could soon decide to walk away from satellite radio and either call time on his career or move on to a different endeavor. He can certainly afford to walk away from SiriusXM if he does feel that he is finished working for that company. Stern, the “king of all media,” has also made his way into millions of homes via the television show America's Got Talent, and he would have his choice of future employers were he to leave SiriusXM and pursue other offers. Whether or not he would be interested in doing so is not yet known.

4 One Direction: $130 million

And to think that some thought the time of boy bands ruling the pop music world were in the past. One Direction serve as the kings of the industry, and their grip on that throne is not at all slipping as of the posting of this piece. Along with the revenue that they have earned thanks to ticket sales and to the shows that they have put on around the world, One Direction manage to dominate social media websites seemingly on a weekly basis. Odds are that something One Direction-related is trending on Twitter in some country as of right now.

3 Katy Perry: $135 million

The highest-paid music act in the world according to Forbes is not Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift or a former Beatle. It is the woman who performed at halftime of the Super Bowl in February of 2015 and who graced the cover of a summer edition of the Forbes magazine because of the money that she has made as an act. There is supposedly a celebrity feud of some sort brewing between fans of Katy Perry and those who prefer Taylor Swift. Take the side of your choice in that battle of pop music queens. There is no debate to be had that Perry is the big winner in this list for 2015.

2 Manny Pacquiao: $160 million

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Images

What some had advertised to be the “Fight of the Century” featuring Manny Pacquiao taking on the man who is atop of the 2015 Forbes list of highest-paid celebrities failed to deliver in just about every way imaginable. Pacquiao admitting after the fact that he had a shoulder that was not 100 percent leading up to that sporting event left some fans believing that they were scammed into spending up to $100 a pop to watch the fight on pay-per-view. He made his money regardless of his status, and I would not hold my breath waiting for Pacquiao to offer any refunds for his performance on that night.

1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.: $300 million

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Images

Those in the public who spend big bucks to watch his fights may not like it, but all were reminded in 2015 that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not in the business of putting on entertaining shows inside of boxing rings. His business is winning fight after fight however he can do so, and business has been profitable for Mayweather during his career. Those who would suggest that boxing is a “dying” sport should examine Mayweather's bank accounts before voicing such hot takes. The sport can still be an international sensation with the right act at the top of main events.

More in Celebrity Money