Celebrities are without a doubt among the most well paid individuals on the planet. All jobs that make people famous are certainly jobs that pay well. Between acting, singing, comedy, sport, television and radio careers, celebrities make endless billions each year. This allows these individuals to live lives of glamour and luxury. However, there are certainly those stars who seem to make even more than others.
This list will examine those individuals in the spotlight who made the most money this year out of all. Keep in mind, this list only covers the top 20. There were numerous other stars such as Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen, Calvin Harris and Novak Djokovic who were all very close to making it into the top 20, but happened to earn that little bit less. Not to worry, we’re sure they’re doing just fine with the millions they did earn. So, let’s look at our list and see which celebrities can definitely count 2016 as a good year.
20 David Copperfield - $64M
Number 20 on our list of the highest paid celebrities of 2016, is illusionist David Copperfield, with earnings of $64 million. This has been an incredibly successful year for Copperfield, who is commonly considered the best magician of recent decades. The star made his fortune in 2016 due to the large number of live shows he performed as part of his Las Vegas residency. In the past, Copperfield has had immense success with his TV specials which have earned him an incredible 21 Emmy awards. On top of this the magician also has 11 Guinness World Records, a knighthood by the French government and a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. These are all terrific achievements and after 40 years in the business it’s amazing to see the magician still continuing to have a thriving career. At the moment, Copperfield is worth a staggering, $900 million.
19 Dwayne Johnson - $64.5M
Number 19 on the list is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson with total 2016 earnings of $64.5 million. The wrestler turned actor made his millions this year purely down to his box-office smash hits. Alongside this acting triumph, the star is still commonly considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Johnson made an incredibly smooth transition to the acting world that has certainly surprised a few individuals. Such a successful transition, in fact, that he is now the world’s highest paid actor. The star’s first roles included the Fast and Furious franchise, which as we all know, went on to be a tremendous success. So, what movies raked in the big bucks for the star this year? Some of Johnson’s 2016 releases included animation Moana and Central Intelligence alongside Kevin Hart. Up next for Johnson on the acting front in a starring role in the much-anticipated Baywatch re-make.
18 Rolling Stones - $66.5M
Next up, we have the Rolling Stones with a figure of $66.5 million. It’s been over 5 decades since these guys burst on to the music scene and incredibly, the band still continues to make lists such as this. So, where did all this money come from? Amazingly, The Stones only played 27 shows throughout the entire duration of 2016, yet here they are sitting pretty on a highest paid list. Although it was a low number of gigs, the demand for this band remains as crazy as ever. Each one of these shows were played in huge venues and stadiums. So, this explains how the band out earned many ‘pop stars’ of the moment. Although the group are almost all in their 70s, it looks as if Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie are showing no signs of retiring from the business any time in the near future.
17 AC/DC- $67.5M
AC/DC have been rocking the world for nearly 50 years and 2016 was certainly no different. Yes, in 17th place on our list is the Australian band with combined earnings of $67.5 million. Although, everything turned out great for the band in the end, at one point during the year things weren’t running this smoothly. AC/DC’s front man Brian Johnson was forced to pull out of the band’s Rock or Bust world tour due to hearing loss. Nevertheless, in April 2016, it was announced that Guns n’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose would replace Johnson as the frontman of the group for the remainder of the tour. This turned out to be a replacement that fans of AC/DC were happy to accept. On September 22nd, a statement was released by the band stating that Axl Rose would now be a permanent member of AC/DC. It appears as if AC/DC will be rocking for many years to come.
16 Roger Federer - $68M
Roger Federer is arguably the most famous tennis player in the world and the only one who makes our list. This is hardly a surprise considering he has a very impressive 17 grand slam titles to his name, 7 of which were won at Wimbledon. This year, despite getting close to retirement age, Federer earned an incredible $68 million. Interestingly, only $7.8 million of this sum came from the tennis player’s salary or winnings. The athlete, however, earned $60 million from his countless endorsement and sponsorship deals. Some of these deals are with huge companies like Nike, Rolex and Mercedes Benz. It’s clear that Federer’s brand is certainly one that sells. Over the course of his 18-year career, Federer is thought to have earned $98 million in competition winnings alone. As of today, the star is thought to have an overall net worth of $350 million dollars.
15 Garth Brooks - $70M
Next on the list, is Garth Brooks who made $70 million in 2016. Brooks, as you may well know, has made many millions from his very successful country music career. This year in particular was great for the star as it was the second year of his comeback tour. Brooks famously retired from making new music in 2001 due to the burden of trying to balance life on the road and his family. However, in the years since the singer has performed live shows such as his Las Vegas residency shows from 2009-2013. However, in late 2014, Brooks released his first album in years titled Man Against Machine. Since then, Brooks has been showing no sings of slowing down on the touring front and who can blame him with all the money he is making. In fact, there’s rumors this tour may even spread into 2017 as Brooks may take it to international destinations. Moreover, the star just released his new album titled Gunslinger on November 11th.
14 Rihanna - $75M
It’s been over 10 years since Rihanna first popped up on the music scene and it goes without saying the singer has really come a long way since these early days. This year alone, Rihanna made $75 million. 2016 saw Rihanna reach her 21st top 5 single which puts her on a tie with Elvis Presley. Considering she is only 28 years old and has already accomplished this is quite incredible. Rihanna raked in her millions this year with the release of her album Anti. Strangely, although the album was no.1 it made history as the lowest selling number one album of all time. Nevertheless. This did not seem to affect Rihanna’s earnings in the least. As well as having hit singles of her album, Rihanna could also be found playing sold out shows in 2016. Along with all this the star has lucrative endorsement deals with the likes of Puma, Samsung and Dior.
13 Ellen DeGeneres - $75M
Number 13 on our list, equal with Rihanna, is Ellen DeGeneres who also had earnings of $75 million. The comedy talk show host has always had immense success with The Ellen DeGeneres Show. On a daily basis, DeGeneres gets 3.6 million viewers tuning in to see her hilarious celebrity interviews. Considering the show has been on the air for over 13 years this is a huge achievement. The star has managed to keep audiences interested and entertained for all these years and she is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Besides her daytime show, Ellen also made her millions this year from sponsorship deals such as the one she has with makeup brand Covergirl. Also 2016, saw the release of Finding Dory, the much-anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo. Considering DeGeneres voiced Dory in the animation it can be assumed this movie helped the star gain a few bucks. Finally, DeGeneres has a mobile app that's a password-styled game, called Heads Up!, which has been downloaded over 25.5 million times.
12 Madonna - $76.5M
At 58 years old Madonna is still raking in the big bucks; 2016 saw the singer earn herself $76.5 million. Considering Madonna has been on the music scene since the early 80s, it’s an incredible accomplishment that the star still appears to be raking in the cash. So, where did Madonna make her money this year? The star’s biggest income came from her Rebel Heart world tour; overall the tour made $170 million. Apart from the success of her tour Madonna also made millions more from her own brands of clothing and perfume. When we examine Madonna’s earnings like this, it’s no wonder the star, despite demand from some people, is refusing to slow down. At almost 60 the star remains the Queen of pop; Madonna’s net worth stands at an astonishing $560 million.
11 LeBron James - $77M
Next up is Basketball player Lebron James who, throughout the course of 2016, earned himself $77 million. This was a great year for James, as it saw him succeed in winning the 2016 NBA finals with his basketball team the Cavs. This was a tremendous thing to do as it just so happened to be the first-time Cleveland won a championship, not just in basketball but any sport, in 42 years. Although James earned massive figures of $23.2 million for his salary with the Caws and winnings, the athlete’s main source of income this year was actually down to his endorsement deals. These deals earned the star an amazing $54 million. Towards the end of 2015, Nike announced that they were signing James to a lifetime contract, the first in the company’s 44-year existence.
10 Rush Limbaugh - $79M
In tenth place on this list is Rush Limbaugh with earnings of $79 million. Limbaugh has made his millions as a radio talk show host on his own show titled The Rush Limbaugh Show which first aired in 1988. The show has over 13 million listeners which makes it the most listened to radio show in all the U.S. In July 2016, Limbaugh signed a new 5-year contract for his show which means that when the contact ends in 2020, the show will have been on air for an astonishing 32 years. This is an incredible accomplishment for the radio host that makes it clear why he is the 10th highest earning celebrity of this year.
9 Adele - $80.5M
In ninth place on our list is British singer Adele with earnings of 80.5 million dollars. This just so happens to be the richest the star has ever been. This is no doubt down to the numerous arena performances the singer has performed this year; each of these gigs is estimated to have made millions a night. However, with a voice like Adele’s it’s hardly a surprise she has the ability to sell out these venues. In recent years, it appears as if people just can’t get enough of Adele and her incredible voice. The star is commonly considered to have the best voice of these times with no other female artist really matching her level of authentic talent. The star’s incredible tour came on the back of her much anticipated third album 25, released in late 2015. This album featured numerous hits for the star such as 'Hello' and 'When We Were Young'. If people didn’t want to see Adele live before, they certainly did after hearing this album.
8 Lionel Messi - $81.5M
Next up, is Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi with total earnings of $81.5 million. Messi currently plays a forward position at Spanish club FC Barcelona. His salary for playing at this club is estimated to be around $53.4 million. Messi’s income is so high due to currently being the reigning Ballon d’Or winner and has actually won FIFA’s player of the year, an incredible five times. This makes Messi the only player in the world to succeed in winning this prestigious award five times. It is no surprise then, that not only is Messi commonly considered the best player in the world, but is believed by many to be the best player of all time. Along with the player’s earnings at FC Barcelona, Messi is estimated to have earned another $28 million from his endless sponsorship and endorsement deals.
7 Howard Stern - $85M
Next on the countdown is radio man Howard Stern. Stern is seventh on our list due to earning $85 million this past year. In 2015 the radio host new 5-year contract Sirius XM Radio. This new deal will not just feature Stern on the radio but will also include a new app and a live video feed of the show. Stern signed his first contract with Sirius in 2005 and it was worth 500 million dollars. Stern has worked on numerous Radio shows throughout his career and despite the controversial nature and offensive topics Stern often discusses his earnings are showing no signs of decreasing anytime soon; if anything, this seems to be making the star even more money.
6 Kevin Hart - $87.5M
Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world today, and unlike anyone else in the business he does things on a big scale. By this we mean, that instead of performing in your average venue, Hart performs in Stadiums and Arenas, taking the whole comedy game to new levels. For this reason, Hart makes a fortune, more so than many music artists playing in the same stadiums. In 2016, Hart raked in a whopping 87.5 million dollars all for himself. It is estimated that each of Hart’s arena gigs rakes in $1 million and considering he played over 100 of these in the past year it’s obvious where the comedian's earnings are coming from. As well as this, Hart is also a comedy actor and 2016 saw the release of many movies starring Hart; some of these included Central Intelligence, Kevin Hart: What Now? and Ride Along 2. These movies also helped Hart rake in the millions this year.
5 Dr. Phil McGraw - $88M
Next on our list in America’s most famous doctor, Dr. Phil McGraw. A combination of television and business skills has earned McGraw $88 million this year alone. This is mostly down the success of McGraw’s highly viewed daytime television show Dr. Phil. The show which aired in 2002 has turned McGraw into quite the celebrity. Dr Phil is a show which sees McGraw, who has a Ph.D. in Psychology, act as a shrink to his guests as he gives them ‘real and honest’ advice. Despite criticism from various other psychologists who have labelled McGraw’s work as "basic and ineffective", his earnings continue to rise. McGraw began making appearances on TV in the 90s when he was regularly invited by Oprah Winfrey to appear on her show. In recent times the shrink launched the ‘Doctor on Demand’ app which connects its users with a network of psychologists.
4 Cristiano Ronaldo - $88M
Similar to Doctor Phil, Cristiano Ronaldo also had earnings of $88 million in 2016. Ronaldo, who is originally from Portugal, is a professional footballer with Spanish club Real Madrid. For his contribution at the team the player earns $50 million a year; this is not to mention the millions more he makes due to his endless sponsorship deals with companies such as Sacoor Brothers suits, Monster headphones, Nike and Tag Heuer. Ronaldo has huge popularity among his fans and is commonly considered the most famous athlete on the planet. The sportsman has been voted FIFA’s Best Player in the World three times. In 2015 Ronaldo scored his 500th senior career goal for club and county. Along with all this the star has also broken the 50-goal mark, 6 seasons in a row for Real Madrid. On top of all his earnings this year, Ronaldo also shared in the victory of his country Portugal winning the European Championships.
3 James Patterson - $95M
In third place on our list with earnings of $95 million is author James Patterson. This makes Patterson the highest paid author in the world. However, this isn’t that much of a surprise considering he churns out around a dozen best-sellers each year. Nevertheless, the writer does have co-authors working with him on these books but this hasn’t affected his earnings in the least. These 2016 earnings now leave Patterson with a net worth of $570 million. Patterson’s most renowned work is his series Alex Cross, which follows the life of a fictional psychologist by the same name. Some of the writer’s other series include The Witch and the Wizard, Maximum Ride, Daniel X and Women’s Murder Club. Many of Patterson’s works have been picked up for TV including the sci-fi thriller Zoo, which airs on CBS.
2 One Direction - $110M
Unfortunately for many, 2016 was the year One Direction decided to take a break from the music industry and the tiring life of travelling, performing and recording. However, before this hiatus, the band went about performing a world tour, as some form of closure for their fans. The band’s On the Road Again tour did not disappoint and went on to be a huge hit. It is the main reasons 1D made it to the second spot on our list with combined earnings of 110 million dollars. This makes One Direction the top earning boyband of all time. One Direction managed to make all this money without the presence of Zayn Malik who announced he was leaving the band in late 2015. It’s clear One Direction has a lot to be proud of and has come a great distance from the day they auditioned for the X-Factor as solo artists. With earnings like this we think it’s quite likely these boys will make a return in the future
1 Taylor Swift - $170M
So, that brings us to the top spot on our list which goes to none other than pop’s reigning princess Taylor Swift. The singer has certainly come a long way from her early years as a country singer. Since her transition into the world of pop music, Swift has really been raking in the big bucks. The year alone the star has earned $170 million for herself. In fact, thanks to her extremely successful 1989 tour the singer succeeded in breaking the Rolling Stones' record for her most earnings on a North American tour. On the continent alone, the tour rolled in 200 million dollars. In fact, the tour brought in massive earnings of almost quarter of a billion in total when the figures from the entire world tour were rounded up. Of course, Swift doesn’t get to keep all this money for herself but it’s still highly impressive. So, it shows the Kanye/Kardashian/Swift feud this year certainly didn’t dent the star’s earnings.