Fame and fortune can go hand in hand—at least for a select few. ‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas leads this year’s ranking of America’s richest celebrities with a net worth of $5.4 billion thanks largely to the fortune he pocketed when his Lucasfilm production company sold to Disney for $4.1 billion in 2012.
He edges fellow filmmaker Steven Spielberg (No. 2; $3.7 billion) and media mogul Oprah (No. 3; $2.8 billion). Michael Jordan (No. 4; $1.7 billion) climbs up the ranking with a $400 million net worth increase derived from his sneaker fortune and a 90% stake in the increasingly valuable Charlotte Hornets. His stake in the basketball team is valued at an estimated $800 million.
America’s 10 wealthiest celebrities hold a combined fortune of $18.7 billion, more than the GDP of Iceland. Forbes’ third annual ranking of the net worths of the famous boasted the biggest cumulative figure since we began tallying totals, up 4% from 2017’s $18 billion.
New to the list this year is Kylie Jenner, whose $900 million net worth puts her on track to become the youngest self-made billionaire ever. The 21-year-old runs Kylie Cosmetics, which has shifted more than $630 million in makeup since its launch two years ago by targeting her 168 million-plus social media followers. Jenner owns 100% of the bare-bones business, a stake valuable enough to put her among America’s Richest Self-Made Women—and land her a spot on the cover of Forbes.
“Social media is an amazing platform,” Jenner says of the medium that granted her success. “I have such easy access to my fans and my customers.”
The biggest dollar gainer among existing listees is Jay-Z ($900 million), who ties with Jenner for the fifth spot. His net worth is up $90 million from 2017’s figure thanks to lucrative stakes in companies including Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac, plus holdings in his entertainment empire Roc Nation and streaming service Tidal.
“That was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off, to convince artists that you can’t be an artist and make money,” Jay-Z told Forbes in 2010, foreshadowing the success of his ancillary businesses. “When you’re in the studio, you’re an artist, you make music, and then after you finish, you market it to the world. I don’t think anything is wrong with that. In fact, I know there’s nothing wrong with that.”
He bests fellow rapper Diddy (No. 8; $820 million), who is the only other musician on a ranking that also includes an author and a magician.
This list uses net worth earnings previously published for the Forbes 400, Billionaires list and ranking of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Celebrities not on those lists were valued through private company stakes and publicly traded assets. Real estate, art and other assets were also factored in where applicable. For entertainers without such holdings, we based estimates on net lifetime earnings after taxes and spending. Eligibility was limited to American citizens who’ve gotten rich off their fame, rather than become famous for their wealth.
America’s Wealthiest Celebrities 2018
1. George Lucas
Net worth: $5.4 billion
2. Steven Spielberg
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. Michael Jordan
5. (tie) Kylie Jenner
5. (tie) Jay-Z
7. David Copperfield
9. (tie) Tiger Woods
9. (tie) James Patterson
Reported by Zack O’Malley Greenburg, Natalie Robehmed and Kurt Badenhausen. Additional reporting by Madeline Berg.