Most people in this world have probably never even seen $100,000 in their lifetime. Wealth is elusive and so very hard to come by, unless you’re born into it, marry into it, win the lottery, or are lucky enough to amass it due to your talents and connections. Otherwise, financial struggles are terrifyingly real for the regular man on the street. Living paycheck to paycheck and acquiring debt is the norm.
So when you’re struggling to make ends meet, it can be very disheartening to read about celebrities who make big bucks by the millions. Whether it’s an athlete, an actress, a singer, or an entrepreneur, there are definitely people out there who have made their first million even before they hit 30. Of course, money doesn’t buy everything and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness. With money and fame come loads of pressure to continuously succeed, as well as having to get used to living life under the microscope, which are struggles the people on this list have to constantly battle. So yes, there’s always a trade off for someone who seems to have it all.
18. Drake ($38M)
He just turned 30 in October and not many can boast of having sold over 5 million albums worldwide at such a young age. But not very many people know that Drake got his start in show business not as a singer, but as an actor in his hometown Toronto, where he appeared in the teen drama television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. He released his debut studio album Thank Me Later in 2010, which hit number one on the US Billboard 200 and was soon certified platinum. He has a Grammy tucked under his belt and holds the distinction of having the most number one singles on the Hot Rap Songs and Rhythmic Charts. and has a Grammy tucked under his belt. This year, he has had the best music sales after Adele, thanks to his latest album Views. His $38M earnings also came from concerts and brand endorsements.
17. Sebastian Vettel ($41M)
Race car driving is not for the faint-hearted, when it comes to those who enjoy watching it and more so, those who partake in it. But it’s the thrill of the chase that truly makes it an exciting sport to watch and its drivers are adequately compensated for it. German racing driver Sebastian Vettel currently drives in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari and he holds the distinction of being a four-time Formula One World Champion, having won consecutively from 2010 to 2013 when he was with Red Bull Racing. For these feats, he’s considered among the most successful F1 drivers of all time. His contract with Ferrari is considered one of the most expensive ones in F1, as the company is set to pay Vettel more than $40 million annually, including bonuses if he performs well.
16. Russell Wilson ($42M)
Quarterbacks always have the biggest paychecks because of their crucial and very significant role in a football team and Russell Wilson is no exception. For those who aren’t in the know when it comes to the NFL (National Football League), Wilson is a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He’s had an impressive track record, having tied Peyton Manning’s record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie (26) and was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year in 2012. The next year, he brought the Seahawks their first ever Super Bowl victory and the year after that in 2014, led them to a second straight Super Bowl win. Because of these victories, the team gave him a contract extension with a signing bonus of $31 million. The rest of his earnings in 2016 came from his endorsements for Microsoft, Nike, Bose, and Braun.
15. Rory McIlroy ($42.5M)
27-year-old Northern Irish professional golfer Rory McIlroy held the distinction of being world number one in the Official World Golf Ranking for an impressive 95 weeks. As if that wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, he is also a four-time major champion, having won the 2011 US Open, as well as the 2014 Open Championship and the 2014 PGA Championship. He joins the ranks of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as a player to win three majors even before reaching the age of 25. Despite the fact that his earnings in 2016 fell by almost $9 million, he still managed to rake in a total of $42.5 million, which is hardly peanuts, considering he had to settle a lawsuit in 2015. He has his Nike endorsement to thank for a big chunk of his net worth, as the brand pays him around $20 million a year.
14. Big Bang ($44M)
No, Big Bang does not refer to the cast of the hit TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, as most TV show enthusiasts might think. It’s actually a South Korean boy band consisting of five guys who are currently in their mid to late 20s. The group officially went public in 2006, trying to find their niche in the hip hop genre. They had their breakthrough in 2007, when they released their first album entitled Always, which included the song Lies. Said song hit number one in the major Korean music charts for seven consecutive weeks, a major record breaker. They expanded their presence to Japan, where they won three awards at the country’s ninth MTV Video Music Awards. They became the first Korean singing group to land on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list and they raked in a grand total of $44 million in 2016 alone.
13. Jennifer Lawrence ($46M)
It’s hard to believe that Jennifer Lawrence was once told that she would never amount to much in Hollywood because look at her now. She has accomplished so much at the young age of 26, receiving her first Academy Award nomination when she was only 20 years old for the film Winter’s Bone and winning her first Oscar for Best Actress at 22 for the movie Silver Linings Playbook, making her the second youngest Best Actress Oscar winner. All of this, considering she never even took formal acting classes, shows that Lawrence was born with an innate acting talent and one of the more versatile ones of her generation. She has also been part of major film franchises like the Hunger Games film installments and the X-Men franchise alongside so many other A-listers. For the second straight year, she is Hollywood’s highest-paid actress, raking in $46 million this year alone.
12. Jordan Spieth ($53M)
Time magazine named American professional golfer Jordan Spieth as one of its “100 Most Influential People” in 2016 for exemplifying everything that’s great about sports. That, along with being ranked number one at a certain point and being a two-time major winner, is a rare accomplishment for someone at the young age of 23. Spieth won the US Junior Amateur twice, in 2009 and 2011, a feat rivaled only by Tiger Woods. Spieth won his first major at the 2015 Masters Tournament, which earned him $1.8 million, then he went on to winning the US Open in the same year. Unfortunately, he suffered one of the biggest collapses in the Masters Tournament in 2016, after leading by five strokes. But all was not lost financially, as he was still able to bring in $53 million, mostly from brand endorsements with Under Armour, Coca-Cola, and Titleist.
11. Cam Newton ($53M)
In American football, quarterbacks are usually the highest paid members of the team and 27-year-old Cam Newton is no exception. He is the quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in the National Football League (NFL), being the first overall draft pick by the team in the 2011 NFL Draft. He holds the distinction of being the only player in the modern era to win a national championship, be awarded the Heisman Trophy, and become the first overall pick in an NFL draft, all in the span of one short year. Added to that, he was also the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year and was part of the 2015 NFL All Pro First Team. He has invested his earnings into a business, developing an apparel and accessories line, which includes more than 300 items. He has even surpassed Tom Brady, as seen in his 2016 earnings of $53 million.
10. The Weeknd ($55M)
His real name is a little hard on the tongue for a regular Joe to pronounce: Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. So to break into the mainstream music scene, he decided to give himself a unique, but easy-to-pronounce name: The Weeknd. The Canadian singer started his music career as a YouTube artist, uploading several songs under the name The Weeknd. After some mix-tape recordings, he released his first studio album entitled Kiss Land in 2013. His second album Beauty Behind Madness, became his first number one album on the US Billboard 200 and the album included the highly popular song, “Can’t Feel My Face.” The top-charting album led to a sold-out world tour and it’s what has given him his $55-million earnings in 2016. As a testament to the success of his album, the 26-year-old has won two Grammy Awards and eight Billboard Awards.
9. Kevin Durant ($56M)
His name is certainly synonymous to greatness when you think of the NBA and at 28 years old, that’s something that must have been challenging to come by. Kevin Durant was once a hot contender in high school, constantly being fought over by recruiters. He started his NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics, then played nine seasons for Oklahoma City Thunder, helping the team reach the finals in 2012, only to lose to Miami Heat in five games. After nine seasons, he signed up with the Golden State Warriors in 2016, which was quite the controversial move, as many compared him to LeBron James’ 2010 departure from Cleveland Cavaliers to sign up with Miami Heat. But the Warriors gave Durant an offer that he was hard-put to refuse: a $54.3-million 2-year contract. The rest of his $56 million earnings for 2016 comes from his endorsements with Nike.
8. Justin Bieber ($56M)
Back when he was just starting out in the music business as a young teenager, Canadian singer and songwriter Justin Bieber became an instant hit with his pre-teen fan base, when he released his hit song Baby, which is his most successful single to date. When his audience grew up and outgrew him, the now 22-year-old changed up his music style so that it had a more upbeat, mature sound to it. But unfortunately, he has landed in tabloids not just for his music, but also for his personal life, which includes legal troubles, such as reckless driving, driving under the influence, and vandalism. However, these personal hiccups have not deterred his success, having sold an estimated 100 million records, making him one of the highest earning musical artists in the world. His $56-million earnings for 2016 also came from his Calvin Klein endorsement.
7. Novak Djokovic ($56M)
Tied with Kevin Durant and Justin Bieber at earning $56 million in 2016 is Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic. He may be currently ranked number two, but he’s still considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 12 Grand Slam singles titles and held the number one spot in the ATP rankings for a grand total of 223 weeks. He was the first player to have ever raked in $20 million prize money in a single season. He flies the Serbian flag high for being the first player from Serbia to have accomplishments such as his. He has not let his accomplishments get to his head though, as he’s known to comically impersonate his fellow players, many of whom he has close friendships with, such as Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. His $56-million earnings for 2016 have included endorsements for Uniqlo, Adidas, Peugeot, and Seiko.
6. Rihanna ($75M)
Barbadian singer Rihanna was only 17 when she rose to fame in 2005, with the release of her debut studio album Music of the Sun and its 2006 follow-up A Girl Like Me. From these albums came the songs “Pon de Replay” and “SOS,” which are catchy dance songs that people loved gyrating to. In 2007, she decided to reinvent herself as a sex symbol and was constantly seen in her public appearances wearing sexy outfits that showed off her toned body. To go with said new image, she released the aptly titled album Good Girl Gone Bad, which included the very popular track “Umbrella,” the song that earned her her first Grammy. At 28, she has 21 top-five singles, a record tied only with Elvis Presley and she adds to this year’s $75-million paycheck by doing concerts and being the face of big brands such as Dior, Puma, and Samsung.
5. Adele ($80.5M)
It would be a surprise if Adele wasn’t on this list, considering the soaring success of her music career in the past year and a half. At 28, the British singer-songwriter has accomplished much in such short a time and not just in her home country, but across the pond, as well. Her debut album 19 was released in 2008 to rave reviews and immense commercial success, having been certified three times platinum in the US. For the album, she received two Grammy Awards, which is no mean feat for a rookie in the music industry. Her second studio album in 2012 was no less successful and further cemented her status as a music great in modern times. Her third album 25 has brought up her 2016 earnings to a cool $80.5 million, which is her highest career earning to date.
4. Lionel Messi ($81.5M)
He may be a controversial figure in sports but that doesn’t mean Lionel Messi is any less rich. The 29-year-old professional football player from Argentina plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona, as well as serves as the captain for the Argentina national team, a title given to only the best in the sport. He is oftentimes considered the best football player in the world, not to mention arguably the best of all time, as he’s the only football player in history to have won five FIFA Ballons d’Or. He truly has overcome many odds, as he was once diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child and as a result, was injury-prone. In 2015, he was found guilty in a Spanish court for tax fraud and was sentenced to almost two years in prison, but he has appealed this conviction. This certainly hasn’t stopped him from earning $81.5 million in 2016.
3. One Direction ($110M)
Many music lovers groaned inwardly when English-Irish pop boy band One Direction burst into the music scene because we all thought that the boy band era ended over 10 years ago. But the group of lads composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik proved that they were more than pretty faces. The fact that the acerbic-tongued Simon Cowell saw some promise in them and signed them onto his label was a testament to their potential talent. Because Cowell certainly knows potential when he sees it. They’ve won countless awards and despite the fact that they are currently on hiatus and that they lost one member (Malik left the group in March 2015), they are still the highest-earning boy band of all time. Their On The Road Again tour ensured that their total earnings for the year came up to $110 million.
2. Taylor Swift ($170M)
Is it any wonder that Taylor Swift has all but topped the list of the richest young ones in 2016? It seemed like she’s been all over the news these past years, not just because of her successes in her music career, but also due to her personal life and strong social media presence. It doesn’t hurt that she’s physically attractive as well with her all-American girl-next-door looks to top off her height and long legs. One of the reasons she’s this year’s big earner is she’s not just a singer. She also composes her own songs and plays instruments, making her a huge cash cow in the entertainment industry. It helps that the songs she writes are derived from her previous romantic relationships and subsequent break-ups. In 2016, she has so far earned a whopping $170 million, due largely to her world tour of latest album 1989.
1. Evan Spiegel ($4 Billion)
He’s not a celebrity per se, but by virtue of his unique accomplishments and the company he keeps (he’s engaged to supermodel Miranda Kerr), Evan Spiegel might very well be considered one in the biggest of ways. The 26-year-old’s official profession is American entrepreneur. But he’s not just any ordinary one. He is the co-founder of the wildly popular social media mobile app Snapchat, which he created with his two college buddies when they were at Stanford University. Spiegel simply proposed Snapchat as a class project in his product design class and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, he is the CEO of Snapchat and Snap, Inc. and the company is reportedly headed for an IPO valued at $25 billion, with Spiegel owning 15% to 20% percent of the company. That means his stake will be valued at roughly $4 billion.