Ranked: Top 10 Highest-Paid Celebrities
It can be hard to make money in media—but for those lucky enough to make it to the big leagues, the payoff can be astronomical .
In 2021, the world’s 10 highest-paid celebrities earned a combined $2.7 billion. Who are these high-earning entertainers, and how do they make their hundreds of millions?
Using data from Forbes, this graphic by Athul Alexander highlights the top paid entertainers around the world, based on 2021 pre-tax earnings (minus business expenses such as management fees, agent costs, etc).
The Highest-Paid Celebrities in 2021
The world’s celebrities may be well known for the media they produce, but the bulk of their earnings are made through business dealings.
First on the list is New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing, producing, and writing the screenplays for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
|Rank||Name||Nationality||2021 pre-tax earnings|
|1||Peter Jackson||🇳🇿 New Zealander||$580 million|
|2||Bruce Springsteen||🇺🇸 American||$435 million|
|3||Jay-Z||🇺🇸 American||$340 million|
|4||Dwanye "The Rock" Johnson||🇨🇦 🇺🇸 American/Canadian||$270 million|
|5||Kanye West||🇺🇸 American||$235 million|
|6||Trey Parker and Matt Stone||🇺🇸 American||$210 million|
|7||Paul Simon||🇺🇸 American||$200 million|
|8||Tyler Perry||🇺🇸 American||$165 million|
|9||Ryan Tedder||🇺🇸 American||$160 million|
|10||Bob Dylan||🇺🇸 American||$130 million|
In addition to creating and directing blockbuster hits, Jackson is also the founder of the VFX studio Weta Digital, which he sold a portion of last year for a whopping $1.6 billion and the bulk of his earnings.
Second on the list is singer, songwriter, and musician Bruce Springsteen, who earned an estimated $435 million in 2021. Like Jackson, Springsteen’s earnings came from a major sale, as he sold Sony Music the rights to his entire music collection in a deal worth nearly $500 million last December.
One of the only actors on the list is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who comes in fourth place with an estimated $270 million in 2021 pre-tax earnings. But only about a quarter of his earnings came from leading roles in movies like Jungle Cruise and Red Notice, with the bulk coming from his tequila brand Teremana.
Some High-Level Trends
Taking a closer look at this list reveals a few trends worth highlighting:
- Nine out of 10 entertainers on the list are American
- Only two actors made the list, while six are musicians
- All of top 10 earners in 2021 were men
Hollywood’s gender pay gap has been a hot topic of conversation over the last few years. Research indicates that there’s about a one-million-dollar pay gap between male and female actors at the “superstar” level.
But the gender gap in the entertainment industry extends further than that—women aren’t just underpaid compared to their male counterparts, they’re also just underrepresented, especially in big-decision, behind-the-scenes roles, and may subsequently miss out on the business opportunities made available.
Women have made the top 10 earners in Forbes celebrity rankings in recent years, including Kylie Jenner from 2018-2020, Taylor Swift in 2019, and Judge Judy Sheindlin in 2018. But they were the only females in an upper echelon of celebrity earners composed mainly by males.
Comparing YouTubers to Traditional Celebrities
As social media and online entertainment continue to gain traction, it’s interesting to see how much social media creators are earning compared to their traditional media counterparts.
According to Forbes, the highest-paid YouTuber (Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast) earned $54 million in 2021. Notably, that would place MrBeast in the top 25 of celebrity earners, just ahead of Taylor Swift’s $52 million in 2021.
With more celebrities embracing social media to grow followings and earnings revenue, it might not be long before we see more influencers and social media creators in the list of the world’s highest-earning celebrities.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Visualizing the Relationship Between Cancer and Lifespan
New research links mutation rates and lifespan. We visualize the data supporting this new framework for understanding cancer.
A Newfound Link Between Cancer and Aging?
A new study in 2022 reveals a thought-provoking relationship between how long animals live and how quickly their genetic codes mutate.
Cancer is a product of time and mutations, and so researchers investigated its onset and impact within 16 unique mammals. A new perspective on DNA mutation broadens our understanding of aging and cancer development—and how we might be able to control it.
Mutations, Aging, and Cancer: A Primer
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is not a pathogen that infects the body, but a normal body process gone wrong.
Cells divide and multiply in our bodies all the time. Sometimes, during DNA replication, tiny mistakes (called mutations) appear randomly within the genetic code. Our bodies have mechanisms to correct these errors, and for much of our youth we remain strong and healthy as a result of these corrective measures.
However, these protections weaken as we age. Developing cancer becomes more likely as mutations slip past our defenses and continue to multiply. The longer we live, the more mutations we carry, and the likelihood of them manifesting into cancer increases.
A Biological Conundrum
Since mutations can occur randomly, biologists expect larger lifeforms (those with more cells) to have greater chances of developing cancer than smaller lifeforms.
Strangely, no association exists.
It is one of biology’s biggest mysteries as to why massive creatures like whales or elephants rarely seem to experience cancer. This is called Peto’s Paradox. Even stranger: some smaller creatures, like the naked mole rat, are completely resistant to cancer.
This phenomenon motivates researchers to look into the genetics of naked mole rats and whales. And while we’ve discovered that special genetic bonuses (like extra tumor-suppressing genes) benefit these creatures, a pattern for cancer rates across all other species is still poorly understood.
Cancer May Be Closely Associated with Lifespan
Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute report the first study to look at how mutation rates compare with animal lifespans.
Mutation rates are simply the speed at which species beget mutations. Mammals with shorter lifespans have average mutation rates that are very fast. A mouse undergoes nearly 800 mutations in each of its four short years on Earth. Mammals with longer lifespans have average mutation rates that are much slower. In humans (average lifespan of roughly 84 years), it comes to fewer than 50 mutations per year.
The study also compares the number of mutations at time of death with other traits, like body mass and lifespan. For example, a giraffe has roughly 40,000 times more cells than a mouse. Or a human lives 90 times longer than a mouse. What surprised researchers was that the number of mutations at time of death differed only by a factor of three.
Such small differentiation suggests there may be a total number of mutations a species can collect before it dies. Since the mammals reached this number at different speeds, finding ways to control the rate of mutations may help stall cancer development, set back aging, and prolong life.
The Future of Cancer Research
The findings in this study ignite new questions for understanding cancer.
Confirming that mutation rate and lifespan are strongly correlated needs comparison to lifeforms beyond mammals, like fishes, birds, and even plants.
It will also be necessary to understand what factors control mutation rates. The answer to this likely lies within the complexities of DNA. Geneticists and oncologists are continuing to investigate genetic curiosities like tumor-suppressing genes and how they might impact mutation rates.
Aging is likely to be a confluence of many issues, like epigenetic changes or telomere shortening, but if mutations are involved then there may be hopes of slowing genetic damage—or even reversing it.
While just a first step, linking mutation rates to lifespan is a reframing of our understanding of cancer development, and it may open doors to new strategies and therapies for treating cancer or taming the number of health-related concerns that come with aging.
Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Which countries drink the most beer? China ranks number one due to its sheer size, and the Czech Republic comes out on top, per capita.
Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Humans have been drinking beer for thousands of years—and since it’s still one of the most popular beverages worldwide, it seems we haven’t gotten sick of it yet. The latest available data shows that beer consumption exceeded 177 million kiloliters around the world in 2020.
Beer consumption occurs all over the world, but the amount varies greatly depending on the location. So, which countries drink the most beer?
This graphic uses data from Kirin Holdings to compare global beer consumption by country. Kirin is a Japanese company that has been tracking beer consumption around the world since 1975.
Which Countries Drink the Most Beer?
When it comes to total beer consumption, China ranks number one.
In 2020, the country’s consumption reached 36 million kiloliters—that’s enough beer to fill more than 14,000 Olympic-sized pools. The country accounts for a whopping one-fifth of total beer consumption worldwide. Archaeological evidence also suggests that China has a beer producing history that goes back thousands of years.
Here’s a look at the top 25 countries for beer consumption, and their global market share:
|Ranking 2020||Country||Total Consumption |
|2||🇺🇸 United States of America||24,105||13.60%|
|8||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||4,088||2.30%|
|12||🇿🇦 South Africa||3,284||1.90%|
|16||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||1,946||1.10%|
|17||🇰🇷 South Korea||1,936||1.10%|
|Rest of the World||31,563||17.78%|
China is the most populous country in the world, accounting for about 18% of the global population. Of course, a large population doesn’t necessarily translate to high beer consumption at the individual level. For instance, India, which has the second highest population in the world, ranks 23rd on the list for beer consumption, and only accounts for 1% of what foamy liquid gets guzzled down each year.
The U.S. comes second on the list, with more than 24 million kiloliters of beer consumed throughout the country in 2020. Americans don’t just drink a lot of beer—they brew a lot of beer, too. The U.S. is the second-largest beer producer worldwide (after China).
Beer Consumption Per Capita
Things look a bit different when you look at beer consumption per capita, rather than total beer consumption. The Czech Republic comes in first when it comes to beer consumption per capita.
In 2020, the average Czech drank more than 181 liters of beer.
International Beer Day
While consumption levels vary across the world, beer is an integral part of many countries’ cultures. In fact, the beverage is so popular, that it’s been given its own day. International Beer Day is celebrated on the first Friday of every August in over 200 cities across the globe.
Cheers, and happy sipping!
Markets4 weeks ago
The $100 Trillion Global Economy in One Chart
Demographics2 weeks ago
Ranked: The 20 Countries With the Fastest Declining Populations
Investor Education4 weeks ago
Countries with the Highest Default Risk in 2022
Energy1 week ago
Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers
Personal Finance6 days ago
Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities
Misc3 days ago
Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Agriculture2 weeks ago
Timeline: The Domestication of Animals
Energy3 days ago
Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?