All about the Benjamins: Diddy tops this year’s ranking of highest-earning entertainers, banking $130 million pretax in our scoring period
-By Natalie Robehmed
It has never been easier to become insta-famous, but for some celebrities, fame and fortune are perennial. Take Diddy: Nearly two decades after appearing on the cover of the first-ever Celebrity 100 issue, Diddy tops FORBES’ annual ranking of the highest-earning entertainers in the world, banking $130 million pretax in a 12-month scoring period.
“I ain’t foolin’ around… I’m building assets,” Diddy claimed to FORBES back in 1999. Turns out, he was right: The majority of his 2017 total comes from selling one-third of his Sean John clothing line for an estimated $70 million. Combined with a lucrative Diageo Ciroc vodka partnership and his Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour, Diddy edges Beyoncé, whose $105 million haul is the second-largest of her career, thanks to her Formation World Tour and Lemonaderelease.
“I’ve never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry,” Beyoncé told FORBES in 2009. Queen B is now taking a break from touring to welcome twins–but only after grossing a quarter of a billion dollars on the road.
Author J.K. Rowling ($95 million) returned to the ranking to snag the No. 3 spot, ahead of Drake (No. 4; $94 million), who more than doubled his 2016 take-home thanks to relentless touring. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo ($93 million) rounded out the top five.
Together, the world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities banked a cumulative $5.15 billion pretax during our June 2016 to June 2017 scoring period. To compile the list, we evaluate front of camera talent; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Estimates are based on figures from Nielsen, NPD Bookscan, Pollstar, Box Office Mojo, Songkick, D’Marie and IMDB, as well as interviews with industry insiders and sometimes the stars themselves.
The result: A definitive global index of who’s making what in the business of entertainment. Just over a third of this year’s Celebrity 100 hail from outside the United States. The U.K. claims 12 entries, while four Canadians make the cut. All told, 20% of the celebrities on this year’s list hail from Europe and 5% from Asia.
These international icons span industries: Toronto native Drake (No. 4) rapped his way to $94 million on his Boy Meets World Tour, banking more than Argentinean soccer phenomenon Lionel Messi (No. 14, $80 million). Global cinema boasts stars, too: Chinese funnyman Jackie Chan (No. 39, $49 million) still mints millions from movies that perform well on the mainland, while Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (No. 65, $38 million) made more than Kevin Hart (No. 98, $32.5 million) from his hit flicks.
Though there are 10 male actors on the ranking, not a single female movie star made the cut. In fact, women comprise just 16% of the world’s top-earning celebrities, an imbalance that reflects the gender pay gap in entertainment and beyond. The 16 women on this year’s list earned a cumulative $822.5 million, thanks largely to second-ranked Beyoncé’s take-home. Though there is one more woman on the ranking than last year, 2017’s combined female payday is down from $892.5 million in 2016 (a fifth of which came from Taylor Swift).
Still, there are some rising stars. Kylie Jenner joins the Celebrity 100 for the first time at just 19. The youngest list member—and most junior scion of the Kardashian-Jenner clan—earns a small fortune from endorsements, her family’s reality TV show, a namesake cosmetics company and a clothing line. She is accompanied by newcomers including Steve Harvey (No. 53; $42.5 million), Amy Schumer (No. 69; $37.5 million) Conor McGregor (No. 89; $34 million) and Chance the Rapper (No. 95; $33 million).
Not all the fresh faces are first-timers: J.K. Rowling returns after a three-year hiatus and pockets her largest payday since 2008’s $300 million haul. This year’s $95 million paycheck comes from her bestselling Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, an estimated cut of profits from 2016’s top-grossing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and payouts from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Other returnees have streaming to thank for their salaries. Adam Sandler (No. 35, $50.5 million) rejoins the list with cash earned from a Netflix production deal, and comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are pocketing an estimated $20 million apiece for their Netflix specials.
Across categories, streaming has finally turned into a major moneymaker for the entertainment industry. While the aggregate earnings of the Celebrity 100 are essentially flat at just over $5 billion in the past 12 months compared with the prior year, income directly related to streaming surged 118% to $387 million in 2017 from $177 million in 2016. Leading the way: the Weeknd (No. 6; $92 million), who has translated 5.5 billion streams in the past two years into an estimated $75 million touring advance.
“We live in a world where artists don’t really make the money off the music like we did in the Golden Age,” said the Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye. “It’s not really coming in until you hit the stage.”
Taylor Swift would know: Without a tour, her paycheck dipped 74% from $170 million in 2016 to $44 million in 2017—the largest percent and dollar decrease of anyone on the list. But don’t feel too bad for TSwift: she mints millions even in a quiet year on the strength of music sales and deals with Keds, Apple and AT&T. Oh, and her albums are now available to stream on Spotify.