Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Beyonce Top Forbes’ Celebrity 100

2009-06-04 - ForbesIt’s that time again. Forbes magazine has rolled out their annual Celebrity 100 list, ranking the world’s most powerful celebrities.

While Oprah Winfrey seemed to have it in the bag, banking around $275 million last year, but she landed at #2 to  Angelina Jolie who listed above the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, and hip-hop superstars like Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

Here’s a rundown of some of the list’s highlight’s and why they were ranked this year, according to Forbes:

1. Angelina Jolie: Eclectic actress and gossip-column favorite dethrones media maven Oprah Winfrey atop this year’s Celebrity 100. Jolie has always been able to attract tabloid attention and Oscar nods, but this year, she’s finally figured out a way to make serious money. Her most recent blockbuster, Wanted, proved this mother of six’s sweet spot is action films; the movie earned $340 million at the box office. Up next: Salt, in which Jolie plays a CIA officer accused of being a spy.

2. Oprah: Though viewership for the self-made billionaire’s flagship chat fest, The Oprah Winfrey Show, continues to erode, her earning power remains resilient. In addition to Winfrey’s monthly magazine, she has a three-year, $55 million contract with XM Satellite Radio. Her Harpo production company, which spawned the television careers of Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray, will introduce Dr. Mehmet Oz this fall. Months later, she will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.

3. Madonna: The queen of pop’s Hard Candy album tour became the top-grossing international tour of 2008, bringing in $280 million on 58 concerts in 17 countries. Keeping the 50-year old star’s name in the papers: a reported love affair with allegedly juiced baseball slugger Alex Rodriquez, the end of her eight-year marriage to director Guy Ritchie, and trouble with her latest attempt to adopt a second African baby.

4. Beyonce: In the last year, Queen B dropped a double album, starred in two films, performed at both the Oscars and a Presidential Inaugural Ball and embarked on what is expected to be, at minimum, a 110-date international tour. She also expanded a fashion collection that includes casual and formal lines as well as jewelry and eyeglasses, and added sponsors Nintendo, Crystal Geyser and General Mills to a roster of endorsers already including L’Oréal, Giorgio Armani and Samantha Thavasa handbags.

5. Tiger Woods: Golf’s alpha dog was sidelined for eight months after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee, denting his potential for prize money and robbing him of the $3 million appearance fees he often earns overseas. Found a way to make money without playing: designing golf courses. Already developing courses in North Carolina and Dubai; announced plans for a third course last year in Mexico. Also commands some of the most lucrative endorsement contracts in sports. Biggest sponsor: Nike, with golf sales of $725 million last year. Even Woods is not immune to the recession; his endorsement deal with Buick ended a year early after Chrysler faltered. Woods quickly tapped AT&T to replace the car company as the sponsor on his golf bag.

10. Kobe Bryant: Basketball star’s popularity soared last year after winning his first Most Valuable Player award and leading Team USA to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. His No. 24 jersey is the top seller in the U.S., Europe and China. Pads his $21 million Los Angeles Lakers salary with endorsement deals with Nike, Upper Deck, Activision and VitaminWater.

11. Will Smith: The last true movie star, Smith can open a film at home or abroad. This year, he proved he’s also critic-proof. His two movies, Hancock and Seven Pounds, were mostly panned by reviewers—but still earned a combined $795 million at the box office and helped Smith pocket $45 million.

18. Michael Jordan: Arguably the greatest player to ever dunk a basketball. Today the Jordan brand is a nearly $1 billion (sales) business for Nike, sponsoring other athletes including Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony and Ray Allen. Today Jordan is a minority owner and head of basketball operations for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats; majority owner Robert Johnson has recently been shopping the team, and Jordan’s reportedly on the short list of potential buyers.

19. Lebron James: James won this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player award in a landslide after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the best record in the league. General managers across the league are frothing at the mouth as King James’ free-agent status looms next summer. The Cavs are the odds-on favorite to sign him, because they can offer the biggest contract under the league’s salary-cap rules. The Knicks will be a player if he wants the bright lights of New York. Two-year agreement with Microsoft expired at the end of 2008, but he retains endorsement contracts with Nike, Upper Deck, State Farm Insurance and VitaminWater.

22. Donald Trump: The decision to add celebrities has reinvigorated the Apprentice franchise. Though ratings for the most recent season were down 11% from last year’s celebrity debut, the super-sized series is still able to lure viewers and sponsors alike. Among the latter:, Loews Hotels and Chicken of the Sea. The real estate baron lends his name to everything from alcohol to neck ties, and reaps millions from global speeches and books.

24. George Lucas: With help from the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, of which he split a large portion of the back-end receipts with director Steven Spielberg and actor Harrison Ford, Lucas grossed $170 million this year. A healthy chunk of his earnings come from his ownership rights in all things Star Wars, including a new animated movie and TV show, The Clone Wars.

30. Tyler Perry: Another monster year for the Tyler Perry brand. The Georgia-based studio owner added two more flicks, which collectively grossed $130 million at the box office, and another TBS sitcom, House of Payne, to his ever-expanding résumé. Perry’s rags-to-riches tale continues to garner headlines as he rolls out shows, movies and plays at a dizzying clip. In addition to writing, directing and starring in much of his own fare, the 39-year-old talent appeared in J.J. Abram’s blockbuster Star Trek this spring.

32. Jay-Z: Jay-Z reclaims his crown as the top earner in hip-hop cash this year, despite taking a steep pay cut from the $82 million he brought in a year ago. The reason? He signed a top-heavy 10-year, $150 million deal with Live Nation last April. Still had a good year: embarked on an international tour, made a groundbreaking appearance at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival and married longtime girlfriend, singer Beyoncé. Owns a stake in pro basketball’s New Jersey Nets and New York’s 40/40 nightclub.

34. Howard Stern: Stern’s Sirius Satellite Radio deal continues to pay him $100 million annually (less the production costs for the show, which come out of his pocket). The veteran shock-jock has threatened to retire when his five-year contract expires at the end of 2010, telling one caller on his show that “this is [his] swan song.”

35. Sean (Diddy) Combs: The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy just can’t stop making money. Why? He’s got a highly diversified revenue stream. He brings in cash from his clothing line, Sean John; record label, Bad Boy; vodka, Ciroc; and four television shows, including MTV’s Making the Band. His catalog of hits, both as a producer and a rapper, includes collaborations with Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G., whose recent biopic Notorious earned Diddy an executive producer credit.

41. Eddie Murphy: Despite the flop of last year’s Meet Dave (total box office: $51 million), Murphy is still considered a hot commodity for family films. He earned big pay checks for the upcoming films Imagine That and A Thousand Words.

44. Ryan Seacrest: The hardest-working man in entertainment: hosts American Idol, a top 40 radio countdown, E! News and other red-carpet events, plus ABC’s New Year’s Eve special. In addition to lucrative deals with both ClearChannel Radio and the Comcast Entertainment Group, he develops and produces TV shows, including E’s Keeping up with the Kardashians and NBC’s Momma’s Boys. Has endorsement deals with Proctor & Gamble and Coca-Cola.

46. Kanye West: West stayed atop the hip-hop charts with the release of his fourth album, 808s and Heartbreak. Though not as well-received as his prior effort, the multiplatinum Graduation, his new experimental oeuvre went on to sell nearly 2 million copies. His “Glow in the Dark” tour included a stop in his native Chicago to headline the music festival Lollapalooza in August. Moonlighting as a shoe designer, he recently crafted a successful limited-run Nike line called the Air Yeezy; designed another shoe line for Louis Vuitton, due out this summer.

49. Barack Obama: The 44th president of the United States is the most famous person in the world. His historic run for the presidency helped him sell millions of copies of his two books, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope, during last year’s campaign. He sold another 100,000 copies the week following his election. In January, the president earned an advance for an abridged version of Dreams for young adults; the deal made him the first sitting president in recent memory to receive a book advance while in office. The real money will be made years from now: Obama could certainly earn tens of millions of dollars a year giving speeches full time.

50. 50 Cent: Last year’s highest-earning hip-hop star has seen annual pay fall from $150 million to $20 million. Reason: Last year, he brought in a one-time, $100 million windfall after VitaminWater’s parent, Glacéau, was bought by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion. His steep drop in earnings makes him look like a crashing bank stock, but the Queens-born rapper might survive future stress tests better than most. His portfolio also includes the popular G-Unit clothing line and record label, plus films, videogames and a slew of platinum albums. His fourth album, Before I Self Destruct , is set for release later this year.

54. Chris Rock: In the past 12 months, the multi-tasking comic produced and acted in multiple Hollywood films (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the upcoming Death at a Funeral), released a new HBO stand-up special (Kill the Messenger) and embarked on his very profitable “No Apologies” stand-up tour. He also snagged a new book contract. His TV show, Everyone Hates Chris, will begin a lucrative syndication deal in the fall.

57. Manny Pacquiao: Widely regarded at the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Pacquiao had two blockbuster fights in the past year: He took on Oscar De La Hoya in December and Ricky Hatton in May. Pac-Man is a huge celebrity in his home of the Philippines and plans to run for political office there once his days in the ring are over. Counts Nike and beer maker San Miguel among his sponsors.

62. Kevin Garnett: Garnett watched his Boston Celtics get knocked out of the 2009 playoffs in street clothes after a knee injury sidelined the 33-year-old forward. “The Big Ticket” was the NBA’s highest-paid player this season with a salary of $24.8 million. Leading the Celtics to the 2008 NBA title gave added exposure for Garnett sponsors Adidas and Gatorade.

66. Derek Jeter: Jeter’s contract status promises to be a hot-button issue with Yankee fans over the next year; the Yankee captain will earn $21 million next season in the last year of his 10-year, $189 million contract. Baseball’s top endorser added Gillette last year to an impressive roster of corporate partners that includes Nike, Gatorade, Avon and Upper Deck.

67. Serena Williams: Williams rebounded from injuries to win two Grand Slams, the U.S. Open and Australian Open, over the past year. Her $24 million in career prize money is the highest along all female athletes (big sister Venus is second at $23 million). She launched the Serena Williams Signature Statement, a line of handbags, jewelry and apparel, this year on HSN. Prices range from $17 to $100, and the first 25,000 items sold out after three hours of air time on the shopping channel.

77. Venus Williams: Williams won her fifth Wimbledon title, third Olympic gold medal and $3.8 million in prize money last year, the highest earnings total in her decorated career. Off the court, things didn’t go as well: Retailer Steve & Barry’s, where Williams sold her own fashion line, EleVen, filed for bankruptcy. Now searching for a new partner to sell the line of athletic apparel.

89. Eva Longoria Parker: Desperate Housewives’ leap-forward five years may have rejuvenated storylines and reviews, but the long-running ABC dramedy shed 16% of its viewership year-over-year. Like her fellow leading ladies, the series’ vixen still managed to pull in an estimated $225,000 per episode over the last 12 months. Off screen, Longoria Parker’s laundry list of endorsements included L’Oréal Paris and Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” campaign.

According to the mag, their list is a “measure of power based on money and fame. Earnings estimates, which include income from films, television shows, endorsements, books and other entertainment ventures, are calculated between June 2008 and June 2009. Figures were rounded off where appropriate … Fame is calculated using Web hits on Google Blog Search, TV/radio mentions on LexisNexis, overall press mentions on Factiva and the number of times a celebrity’s image appeared on the cover of 25 consumer magazines.

Check out the full list of celebrities over at

  1. Obama at #49? Can anyone possibly make the argument that Angelina Jolie (or anyone else, for that matter) has bigger celebrity status? I’d like to see Angelina’s turnout if she were to give a speech in D.C., Berlin, or Cairo. Get real, Forbes.

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