The one that earned an estimated $165 million last year even after taking a $125 million pay cut, of course. As unbelievable as it sounds, Oprah Winfrey had that much money to lose and still took top honors on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid celebrities, released Monday.
Her loss reflects her tumultuous year, one that saw the inimitable talk show stumble slightly after she ended her eponymous 25-year-old show to launch the OWN Network with the Discovery Channel. The venture has struggled, but losing the income from her show didn’t spell the end of Winfrey’s fortune. Forbes reports that diversified holdings like her magazine, spin-off shows (Dr. Oz, et al) and a Sirius radio deal leveled the losses between May 2011 and May 2012.
But the pay cut wasn’t without consequences. Oprah beat the second-richest celebrity, Michael Bay, by a meager $5 million. Bay owes his year’s fortune to money he milked from his Transformers cash cow.
The rest of the list reads like a who’s who of daytime shows (Dr. Phil), reality television (Simon Cowell) and blockbuster films (Jerry Bruckheimer). Add a little Manny Pacquaio, number 16 who made $67 million, and viola! A virtual mosaic portrait of Rich Uncle Pennybags. But perhaps the most unexpected entry of all came straight outta Compton. Dr. Dre, the fifth richest celebrity, made $110 million in the past year. The 47-year-old rapper made most of his money from the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones seen dwarfing people’s heads everywhere.
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