- Forbes released its list of America’s wealthiest celebrities in 2018 this week.
- The top 10 richest celebrities in America are entertainers, moguls, athletes and authors.
- The combined wealth of these millionaires and billionaires is nearly $19 billion.
Forbes released its list of America’s wealthiest celebrities in 2018 this week. The millionaire and billionaire celebrities are entertainers, musicians, storytellers, entrepreneurs, athletes and authors by trade, but each has become a mogul in their own right. Household names such as Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan made the top 10, as did filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Here’s how these celebrities made their massive fortunes and continue to expand their empires.
1. George Lucas Net Worth: $5.4B
George Lucas’ imagination introduced the world to Wookies, Ewoks and light sabers, which has made him a very, very wealthy man — the richest celebrity, in fact. Lucas was an Academy Award-nominated director prior to the 1977 premiere of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” but he can credit his fortune to Fox Pictures’ self-doubt. Fox was so convinced the first “Star Wars” would be a box-office flop — sci-fi wasn’t a lucrative or respected genre at the time — that it let Lucas pass on an additional $500,000 in salary and instead let him maintain licensing and merchandising rights. The year after the premiere, more than a $100 million in movie-themed action figures were sold.
The “Star Wars” franchise morphed into a pop culture juggernaut, with fans of spanning every generation. However, the creator of the “Star Wars” empire is no longer the gatekeeper. In 2012, Lucas sold Lucasfilm (which also produced the “Indiana Jones” franchise) to Disney for a hefty $4.05 billion. The sale ruffled the feathers of die-hard purists who accused Lucas of selling out, though Lucas himself would later voice his disapproval as to what Disney has made of his grand opus.
2. Steven Spielberg Net Worth: $3.7B
The brilliant creator, storyteller and director also has a knack for making money. Steven Spielberg has won three Academy Awards during his nearly six-decade career. Between the 33 movies he directed, including blockbusters “Jurassic Park,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws” and “Saving Private Ryan,” his movies have grossed over $10 billion when adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo. He also takes a portion of money from every Universal Studios theme parks admission ticket sold.
3. Oprah Winfrey Net Worth: $2.8B
The media mogul who’s instantly recognizable just by her first name, Oprah Winfrey has immense popularity and mass appeal that’s transcended all forms of entertainment and media over the last three decades. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” premiered in 1986, and since then she’s become a worldwide celebrity who runs an empire consisting of a production company, television network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah.com, a lifestyle website, O, The Oprah Magazine and hosts a podcast. Winfrey’s also a savvy investor — her stock in Weight Watchers is now worth more than $400 million.
4. Michael Jordan Net Worth: $1.7B
The undisputed greatest of all time, Michael Jordan is also the richest NBA player of all time. During Jordan’s heyday with the Chicago Bulls, he was making $33.1 million a year, the highest ever salary for one season playing in the NBA. Since retiring from basketball in 2003, Michael Jordan has kept busy as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, maintains control of Nike’s Jordan brand of apparel and shoes. He’s collected $100 million from Nike endorsements alone in his lifetime.
5. Kylie Jenner Net Worth: $900M (tie)
At 21 years old, Kylie Jenner is the youngest to make the list. Her title of “self-made” is hotly contested, but Jenner is sitting on a $900 million cosmetics fortune from her company Kylie Cosmetics. The youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner brood makes a fortune in Instagram endorsement deals thanks to her 122 million adoring followers.
5. Jay-Z Net Worth: $900M (tie)
The rapper-turned-mogul is the richest musician on the list (and that’s not inclusive of wife Beyoncé’s reported $355 million fortune). Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s entrepreneurial vision has broadened far beyond music over the last two decades. Carter’s former and current investments range from a clothing company to a music streaming service, including: Rocawear, a clothing company; The 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar and restaurant chain; spirits brands Armand de Brignac champagne and D’USSÉ cognac; The Brooklyn Nets, an NBA team; on-demand private plane service company JetSmarter; and Tidal, a music streaming service that Carter owns with other music A-listers.
7. David Copperfield Net Worth: $875M
David Copperfield’s game is extravagant illusions, but there’s nothing tricky about his bank account. Copperfield, the world’s richest magician, has been mystifying audiences for nearly four decades. He’s made the bulk of his cash — $61 million in one year alone — performing on the Las Vegas Strip to packed theaters.
8. Diddy Net Worth: $825M
He’s gone by many monikers over the years: Sean Combs, Sean Puffy Combs, Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy and Love, aka Brother Love. No matter what he’s called, Diddy’s become a mogul through his music, Sean John clothing line, Bad Boy Records, stakes in a beverage empire of vodka, tequila and water brands and reality shows. In 2018, Forbes estimates that Diddy earned at least $64 million from all of his ventures.
9. Tiger Woods Net Worth: $800M (tie)
Tiger Woods is one of the highest-paid athletes of all time and still holds the distinction of being the youngest person to ever win the Masters golf tournament. From tournament winnings and endorsement deals, Woods is the most bankable golfer playing today, despite not winning a major championship since 2008.
After his personal life unraveled in 2009, Woods’ reputation and golf game took a hit. Long-term endorsement partners stepped away, and Woods lost endorsements worth as much as $23 million after the scandal broke. In September 2018, Woods earned his first win in more than five years at the Tour Championship.
9. James Patterson Net Worth: $800M (tie)
As the world’s best-selling author with over 380 million books sold worldwide, and the highest-paid author in the U.S., novelist James Patterson is a writing machine. But he wasn’t always a successful writer: Patterson spent the first 25 years of his career in advertising. A model of perseverance, Patterson’s first novel was rejected by 31 publishers before it was published in 1976. Since then, he’s branched out into novels for young adults and children, and his works have been adapted into movies and TV.
Click to keep reading about 25 rich celebrity power couples.
More on Net Worth
- Groundbreaking Director Penny Marshall’s Legacy and Net Worth
- How to Calculate Your Net Worth
- President Donald Trump’s Net Worth Is Going Nowhere Fast
- Watch: Even Beyoncé and Jay-Z Mortgaged Their $88M California Mansion
We make money easy. Get weekly email updates, including expert advice to help you Live Richer™.