Taylor Alison Swift was born on Dec. 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Thanks to her album and tour named after the year of her birth, the 26-year-old pop superstar banked $170 million in a year, which makes her the top-earning celebrity in the world.
Swift’s 1989 tour grossed $200 million in North America, demolishing the Rolling Stones’ record, and went on to gross a quarter of a billion dollars in total for her world tour. The album of the same name sold more than 9 million copies worldwide and placed in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for an entire year. 1989 also made Swift the first woman ever to win the Best Album of the Year Grammy twice. She also padded her paycheck with endorsement deals with Apple, Diet Coke, Keds and other brands. With all these ventures, Swift is the youngest member of FORBES list of America’s Richest Female Entertainers with an estimated net worth of $250 million.
Though Swift is one of the younger members of our international top-earning celebrities list, the Celeb 100, she is in good company. She is one of the 30 twenty-something celebrities that banked over $28.5 million from June 1, 2015 to June 1, 2016. Collectively, these top-earning celebrities under 30 raked in approximately $1.5 billion in 12 months, before taxes and fees.
The youngest member of the list is 22-year-old Justin Bieber (No. 6, $56 million), narrowly beating One Direction’s Harry Styles by one month. Tennis legend Rafael Nadal (No. 18, $37.5 million) just barely made the cut since his 30th birthday was two days after the end of our scoring period. Drake (No. 17, $38 million) and Usain Bolt (No. 27, $32.5 million) have also turned 30 since June 1.
Last year, Swift was second to British boy band One Direction, whose members range in age from 22-24. Now they have traded places, with the top-earning boy band of all time in the runner-up spot with a $110 million take. Though the band is on hiatus and sans Zayn Malik, the end of their On The Road Again tour keeps their earnings higher than any active band.
The world’s second highest-paid athlete, Lionel Messi, rounds the top three. The five-time FIFA player of the year winner made nearly $30 million off the pitch with endorsements from Adidas, Gatorade and more. Messi and his father, Jorge, were found guilty of tax fraud in July 2015, but have since appealed the verdict and the case is still pending.
The list comprises one actress, nine music acts (including two boy bands) and 10 athletes. The age factor is undoubtedly a factor in the preponderance of athletes. Though youth is a virtue across the entertainment industry, it is most applicable to professional sports. The average age of the 100 highest-paid athletes is 31. In contrast, almost half the world’s highest-paid women in music are over 45, the 15 highest-paid TV actresses are all over 30 years old and 45% of the highest-paid Hollywood actors are over 50.
Out of the 37 individuals in the under 30 crowd, which includes two bands with four and five members respectively, nearly one-third (35.1%) hail from countries other than the U.S. This reflects the broader makeup of our Celeb 100 list, which is 37% non-American.
K-pop boy band Bigbang (No. 13, $44 million), whose five members range in age from 25 to 29, account for almost half of the international twenty-somethings on this list. When told that the band took home more than any active American all-male arena pop group, Jiyong, 27, was stunned. “We made more than Maroon 5?” said front man Kwon “G-Dragon” Jiyong, 27, through a translator. “Did not know that. My mom is in charge of my earnings.” Fortunately the group’s finances are in the capable hands of their manager, former K-pop idol Yang “YG” Hyun Suk.
Unfortunately, the under 30 list’s gender gap is also on par with the Celeb 100 list. Our of the 37 individuals, only four are women. This includes three singer-songwriters as well as Jennifer Lawrence (No. 12, $46 million), who is Hollywood’s highest-paid actress. Nearly 90% of these top-earning celebrities under 30 are men, slightly higher than the Celeb 100’s depressing 85%. Though the list was dominated by athletes, the highest-paid female athlete under 30, 29-year-old Maria Sharapova, banked $21.9 million in our 12-month scoring period, which did not meet our $28.5 million threshold.
That said, the female entertainers who are open about their brand and being businesswomen are a reason for optimism. “I’m proud of my position as a boss, as person that runs my own company,” Katy Perry told FORBES in 2015. Last year Perry was the top-earning musician last year with $135.5 million and this year ranks 63rd with $41 million. “I’m an entrepreneur… I don’t want to shy away from it. I actually want to kind of grab it by its balls.”
Our list measures earnings before subtracting management fees and taxes between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016. Figures are based on data from Nielsen, Pollstar, IMDB, Box Office Mojo and other sources, as well as interviews with agents, managers, lawyers, industry insiders and the stars themselves.
Highest-paid celebrities under 30:
— Forbes (@Forbes) November 18, 2016