Who is the world's top-earning celeb?

Updated: 

Madonna

There was once a time when Oprah Winfrey's position as the highest-earning celebrity was a sure- thing every year. But with the talk show queen languishing in 13th place, the race is wide open, and a hugely diverse bunch of celebrities are vying for the top place - from pop stars to authors and DJs.

So who took the top spot, and who are the two Brits to make the top ten?

The 10 top earning celebrities

The 10 top earning celebrities


1. Madonna

At the age of 55, critics have been insisting that her finest days were two decades behind her. Her latest album sold fewer than 1 million copies, and her recent singles have failed to make the impression they once did.

But Madonna has silenced the critics - raking in an astonishing $125 million in one year. That's $25 million more than her nearest rival. Her $305 million world tour was the major money maker, but her fashion and perfume brands helped too.

This is Madonna's biggest-earning year of all time - surpassing her previous record in 2009 of $110 million.

2. Steven Spielberg

The veteran director had a hit with Lincoln last year, but the bulk of his $100 earnings comes from royalties from his earlier works. It can't hurt to have the Raiders of the Lost Ark franchise and the Jurassic Park films quietly making money for you. He also makes a slice from the Universal Studios theme parks. The combination means he's up a place in the rankings from last year.

3= EL James

The British 'Shades of Grey' author has faced harsh criticism for her writing style, but she is living proof that sex sells (70 million copies worldwide and counting). With earnings of $95 million this year she's not only the highest-earning author of the year, she's the third-highest-earning celebrity too.

3= Howard Stern

The original shock-jock is pulling in $95 million a year by being the biggest name on US radio. He also made a rumoured $15 million as a judge on America's Got Talent - which has helped push him up from seventh place on the list last year.

3=Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell, the second Brit on the list, is still holding fast to his earning power - despite some ratings problems in the US. The X Factor and Got Talent format are worldwide sensations - all earning a small fortune for the TV mogul and soon-to-be father who brought home $95 million in a year. It has pushed him up from tenth place in the list last year - leapfrogging the likes of James Patterson and Michael Bay.

6. James Patterson

With earnings of $91 million, America's favourite author is reaping the benefits of being both very popular and incredibly prolific. Apparently one in four of all hardback books sold in the US are written by Patterson, and he continues to add to his body of work at an incredible rate - which has helped push him up from eighth to sixth place in a year.

7. Glenn Beck

With earnings of $90 million, Beck's various roles as a TV and radio host, conservative political commentator, author and businessman have seen the money flooding in. His official tagline is 'The Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment' - so there is a small chance that the money and fame (and moving up from 11th place on the list last year) may have gone to his head.

8. Michael Bay

Earnings of $82 million put the Transformers director in the upper-echelons of the big earners. His blockbuster action films haven't always been a big hit with the critics, but have pulled in the crowds, guaranteeing him big money. He took a bit of a hit this year - with his earnings almost halving from a year earlier (when he was the second-highest paid celebrity). However, Transformers 4 should have him back on top next year.

9. Jerry Bruckheimer

Making $80 million this year, Bruckheimer's ability to produce Hollywood hits is certainly paying off. Having a back-catalogue that features the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise doesn't hurt. However, he could do with another mega-hit soon as he's down from fourth place on the list last year when he made $35 million more.

10. Lady Gaga

Her earnings of $80 million would have been even more if she hadn't had to pull out of much of her tour after suffering a hip injury.

Oprah Winfrey, meanwhile, came in 13th - knocked off the top spot last year, when she was bringing in $165 million a year, and seemed unassailable.