While many of the richest people in the world are successful entrepreneurs and business people, the world’s rich list also consists of a large number of celebrities. Regardless of whether they are in television, the movies, or the music industry, being famous is potentially very lucrative. In fact, the more famous a celebrity is the greater potential to accrue wealth. Often, the money they earn is not simply from the fee they receive for their television or movie appearances or the sales of their music; it is from related merchandise or from other business ventures in which they are involved. Many celebrities have accrued a staggering amount of wealth and this allows them to live a life of luxury, such as traveling across the globe, owning several large homes in expensive and exclusive locations, driving top of the range cars and having staff on hand to take care of their every whim.
Here are the 20 richest celebrities in 2017 and how they have become so wealthy.
20. Tom Hanks – $470 million
Tom Hanks is a successful American actor whose acting career spans four decades. During this time, he has had 45 lead roles in movies and is the fourth highest grossing actor at the box office. One of his most famous movies was ‘Forest Gump’, in which he played the title role. This was the second highest grossing movie of all time. Other movies for which he is famous include ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Apollo 13’, ‘Philadelphia’, and ‘Toy Story’. His commercial success has led to this actor now having a net worth of $470 million.
19. Elton John – $470 million
Elton John is one of the best-known musicians in the world and his career spans half a century. His first album, ‘Empty Sky’ was released in 1969 when he signed with DJM Records. During his career, he has sold 250 million records and released 27 platinum albums. Since 2011, he has performed his ‘Million Dollar Piano’ show at Las Vegas. In 2015 alone, this show earned him a touring revenue of $11.4 million. In addition to performing, Elton John also owns an artist management company called ‘Rocket Music Entertainment Group’ and a film production company called ‘Rocket Pictures. He co-wrote the music for Broadway musicals including ‘Aida’ and ‘Billy Elliot’. Elton John has a net worth of $470 million.
18. Beyoncé – $471 million
Born in Houston, Beyoncé was originally in the group ‘Destiny’s Child’. She then established a solo career and released many hit singles, including ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Crazy in Love’. She has won a total of 20 Grammy Awards in her career and released an album in 2013 without any marketing to support its release. She has made a large proportion of her money from endorsement deals with companies including L’Oreal. Her personal wealth is estimated at $471 million. However, she is married to Jay Z and they have a combined wealth of over a million.
17. George Clooney – $500 million
George Clooney is a famous American actor, director, and producer. He initially became well-known when he starred in the popular American drama television series ‘ER’ playing the role of Dr. Doug Ross. He went on to star in many movies, the most famous of which is possibly ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and the subsequent movies ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ and ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’. Other films in which he has starred include ‘Up in the Air’, Batman & Robin’,’ Intolerable Cruelty’, ‘Money Monster’, and ‘The American’. The three-time Golden Globe Award winner earned himself a reputation as a ladies’ man. However, he married Amal Alamuddin, a human rights lawyer, on September 17, 2014. The couple now has twins who were born on June 6, 2017; a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Ella. From his acting career, he has amassed a net worth of $500 million.
16. Dolly Parton – $500 million
Born in Tennessee, Dolly Parton is one of the best-known female country singers of all time. Throughout her career, she has composed over 3,000 songs, many of which she has performed herself. Some of her most famous songs include ‘9 to 5’, ‘Jolene’, ‘My Tennessee Mountain Home’, and ‘Here You Come Again’. Dolly Parton also wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’, a hit song made famous when Whitney Houston sang it in the movie ‘The Bodyguard’. In addition to her singing career, Dolly Parton is also an actress. She has had roles in films including ‘Steel Magnolias’, ‘Unlikely Angel’, ‘9 to 5’, Straight Talk’, ‘The Best Little Whorehouse’, and ‘Joyful Noise’. Worldwide, Parton has over 100 million album sales and a net worth of $500 million. This makes her not only one of the most successful country singers of all time but also one of the best-selling artists in any genre.
15. Gloria Estefan – $500 million
Gloria Estefan first became famous during the 1980s when she performed with her husband, Emilio Estefan, in Miami Sound Machine. This was a salsa-disco-pop fusion band that her husband had started. Eventually, Gloria went solo and her husband established a record label. Between them the Estefans won 26 Grammy Awards. They also own ‘Estefan Enterprises’, which is a multimedia entertainment company. Gloria Estefan also has income from a stake in the Miami Dolphins and from owning a string of restaurants and hotels in Florida. She has an estimated net worth of $500 million.
14. Mariah Carey – $535 million
At the age of just 18, Mariah Carey was signed to Columbia Records. She is well-known for her five-octave range and powerful voice. When she left the record label in 2001, she earned $80 million in the move. While her singing career has been extremely lucrative, her brief attempt to establish herself as an actress were less successful as her film ‘Glitter’ and the soundtrack flopped. She went on to sell five best-selling albums with Island Def Jam Records and also appeared as a judge on ‘American Idol’ for one season. She is worth an estimated $535 million.
13. Tom Cruise – $540 million
When Tom Cruise first started out as an actor, he had to borrow $800 to move to New York from his stepfather. His financial status couldn’t be any more different now as he has a net worth of $540 million. He made his movie debut in ‘Endless Love’ in 1981 and this set him on the track to stardom. He is best-known for his roles in ‘Top Gun’, ‘Rain Man’ and the ‘Mission: Impossible’ film franchise. For the first installment of this, he helped to produce the movie and earned $70 million.
12. Shah Rukh Khan – $550 million
Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan has amassed a net worth of $550 million. During his career, he has dominated Bollywood and his fans refer to him as ‘King Khan’. However, it is not his Bollywood movies that have earned him the majority of his wealth. He makes most of his money from endorsements for major companies that include Nokia and Pepsi. He makes extra money by performing at the weddings of wealthy couples. He also owns a production company called ‘Red Chillies Entertainment’ and an Indian Premier League cricket team called ‘Knight Riders.
11. Bono – $610 million
Bono is the frontman of the Irish rock group, U2. Although U2 have a combined worth of $853 million, Bono has a personal net worth of $610 million. U2 became a hit in 1987 when they released the album ‘The Joshua Tree’ which featured the hit singles ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I am Looking For’ and ‘With or Without You’. The group have also won 22 Grammy Awards. Although he is famous as the lead singer of this group, Bono has made a lot of money ‘Elevation Partners’, his investment company. He owns 1.4% of social media site, Facebook.
10. Celine Dion – $700 million
Canadian singer Celine Dion was discovered at the age of 12 by her manager René Angélil who later became her husband. She released her first album in 1981 and was an international success before gaining recognition in the United States. Since then, she has sold over 52.5 million albums in the United States alone. Dion has won five Grammy Awards and her Las Vegas residencies have raked in $260 million since she began in 2003.
9. Jay Z – $810 million
Having received 21 Grammy Awards and selling over 100 million albums, Jay Z is one of the most successful artists in America and has accrued wealth with a net worth of $810 million. His real name is Shawn Corey Carter and he was born in Brooklyn, New York City, on December 4, 1969. Although he is predominantly known as a rapper, he is also a businessman and an occasional actor. One of his main business ventures is clothing. In 2007, he sold his Rocawear clothing line for a reported $204 million. He is also known for his marriage to Beyoncé.
8. Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs – $820 million
Sean Coombs is better-known as ‘Diddy’ and he is a rapper, an actor, a record producer, and an entrepreneur. Other names he has gone by throughout his career are P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puff, and Puffy. Combs was born in Harlem, New York City, and first got into the music industry when he worked as an intern at Uptown Records. When he got fired, he decided to establish his own record company called ‘Bad Boy Records’ which he started in 1993. He signed many artists who became famous, including T.L.C., Total, Faith Evans, and 112. In 1997, he released his first single ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down’ and his first album ‘No Way Out’. He now has a net worth of $820 million.
7. Andre Young- Dr. Dre – $830 million
Andre Romelle Young is better-known as Dr. Dre and he is a famous rapper and music producer. He was born in Compton, California on February 18, 1965. This hip hop star has helped to establish the careers of many other famous artists, including Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Eminem. In addition to his own music career, he has many other streams of revenue that have led to him having a net worth of $830 million. These include Beats headphones, a HP laptop line, and a record label called ‘Aftermath’. He is married to Nicole Threatt.
6. Herb Alpert – $850 million
Herb Alpert is a member of the group Herb & Alpert and is also a recording industry executive. He was born in Los Angeles on March 31, 1935, and was taught to play the violin by his mother from an early age. When he joined the U.S. army in 1952, he put his musical talents to use at the military ceremonies. It wasn’t until he retired from the army that he established a career in the music industry. Two of his best awards were the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2007, and the National Medal of Arts, which was presented to him by Barack and Michelle Obama in 2012. He has a net worth of $850 million.
5. Jerry Seinfeld – $860 million
Jerry Seinfeld began his career as a stand-up comedian, making his debut at the ‘Catch a Rising Star’ open mic night in 1976. As his career progressed, he was lucky enough to land spots on shows including ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ and the ‘Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson. In 1989, his career hit the next level when he created the sitcom ‘Seinfeld’ with Larry David. The sitcom was a hit and lasted nine seasons. In the series finale, a whopping 76.3 viewers tuned in to watch the show. It is reported that Jerry Seinfeld was earning $1 million per episode during the last season and that he has continued to earn large sums of money since its syndication. Seinfeld continues to tour doing stand up and is the owner and president of Columbus 81 Productions. He has a net worth of $860 million.
4. Madonna – $910 million
During her lucrative career, Madonna has taken on almost every role in the entertainment industry. She has worked as a dancer, singer, songwriter, actress and director. Due to her successful musical career that has spanned four decades, she is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Pop’. Madonna was catapulted into global stardom when her 1984 album ‘Like a Virgin’ hit number one on the Billboard. She has completed ten world tours and won seven Grammy Awards in her career. She can boast that she is the highest grossing touring artist of all time as her combined ticket sales are a staggering $1.3 billion. Madonna founded Maverick Records in 1992 with Warner Bros. Entertainment and also has a fashion line for teenagers called ‘Material Girl’. Furthermore, she also has a fitness chain called ‘Hard Candy Fitness’. With so many different sources of income, it is little wonder that this talented artist has a net worth of $910 million.
3. Paul McCartney – $1.28 billion
Paul McCartney shot to fame during the 1960s as one member of the world-famous group ‘The Beatles’. The other members of the group were Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and John Lennon. When his career as a member of this group was over, he continued to have a successful career as a solo artist, a composer, a songwriter, and a multi-instrumentalist. He is one of the most successful composers and recording artists of all time. He once also formed a band with Denny Laine and his late wife, Linda McCartney, called ‘Wings’. As a solo artist, McCartney still sells out at arenas across the world and can boast that he has sold 100 million singles, 100 million albums, and has 60 gold discs. He has accrued an estimated net worth of $1.28 billion. Paul McCartney has been married three times to Linda Eastman, Heather Mills, and Nancy Shevell. He has four children; Heather, Mary, Stella, and James.
2. Silvio Santos – $1.3 billion
Silvio Santos is a businessman and television host who is one of the newest billionaires on rich lists. He was born as Senor Abravanel in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 1930. With a net worth of $1.3 billion, he is the 35th richest person in Brazil and is ranked at 1107th on the list of world billionaires. However, it is only since he got into the entertainment industry that he became wealthy as his experiences of growing up were the complete opposite. He grew up in poverty and even had to work as a street vendor to help support his family. It was during the 1960s when he became an established household name in Brazil and his wealth has continued to grow ever since. He gave Brazilians access to many famous shows that were normally pay-per-view by creating Brazilian versions of these shows. Some of these shows include ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, and ‘Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?’. This also allowed Brazilians to take part in these shows rather than just watch them.
1. Oprah Winfrey – $3.1 billion
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most famous women in America. The queen of daytime talk shows, Winfrey became a brand in herself. She is an actress, a television host, a producer and a philanthropist. She even has her own cable channel called OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and her own satellite radio channel. Furthermore, she oversees Harpo Productions and a magazine. She has helped to establish the careers of many other famous people, such as Rachael Ray and Dr. Phil. Winfrey’s earnings are consistently over $225 million a year and she was named as the wealthiest Black American in 2009. On the Forbes 2011 list of billionaires, she is the only African -American included on the list. Her net worth is now an estimated $3.1 billion. She has not kept all her wealth to herself, as she invested $40 million into establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls’ in South Africa.