African-Americans dominate the 2024 world’s celebrity billionaires list

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 5, 2024 6:10 AM EDT
Michael Jordan is the wealthiest Black celebrity billionaire. Photo credit: South China Morning Post

From sports to music and television, African-Americans have dominated Forbes’ 2024 world celebrity billionaires list. The iconic figures have captured the public’s imagination and built empires to rival the world’s wealthiest. Interestingly, the bulk of their earnings do not come from their on-court or entertainment success but from business ventures outside of their claim to fame.

The world’s celebrity billionaires have leveraged their stardom for financial gain with investments in literally everything. They have capitalized on their brand and fame to earn a place in the traditional business scene. Eight of the 14 billionaire A-listers are Black Americans.

Ranked at number three with a net worth of $3.2 billion, Michael Jordan leads the pack. The legendary six-time NBA champion became the first billionaire athlete in 2015. He has earned more than $2 billion through partnerships and endorsements with prominent brands such as Nike, McDonald’s, and Gatorade. His most recent annual royalty payment from Nike amounted to $260 million. Jordan has reaped big from his $175 million investment in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets in 2010. He sold the team last year for $3 billion.

Next in line at number four is the first black female billionaire, Oprah Winfrey with a net worth of $2.8 billion. She rose from an impoverished background to become the renowned talk show host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated daytime talk show in American television history. The septuagenarian has invested in real estate, the beauty industry, her production company Harpo Productions, and the cable channel Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Hip-hop’s first billionaire and 24-time Grammy Award-winning rapper Jay-Z comes in at number five. He sold a majority stake in his cognac label D’Usse in 2023 for a reported $750 million to Bacardi and half of his stake in Armand de Brignac champagne brand to LVMH for approximately $640 million in 2021. He also sold his majority stake in music streaming company Tidal to former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey for $302 million. Jay-Z has a net worth of $2.5 billion, excluding his wife Beyonce’s $500 million fortune.

Eighth is actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry with a $1.4 billion net worth. His decades-long career has generated over $1 billion in pretax earnings. Perry is the owner of Tyler Perry Studios, one of the largest film production studios in the United States. Following her hiatus from music, Barbados-born singer Rihanna focused on building for herself a name in the business world. She has stakes in two billion-dollar brands, cosmetics company Fenty Beauty and lingerie business Savage X Fenty. The 36-year-old also has a net worth of $1.4 billion.

With a $1.3 billion net worth, Tiger Woods is only one of two athletes to become billionaires while still actively playing. He has earned over $1.7 billion in his career with most of it coming from endorsements. He ended his $500 million partnership with Nike earlier this year. The oldest active player in the NBA, 39-year-old LeBron James has a net worth of $1.2 Billion. He has generated more than $1 billion in on and off-court earnings and invested it in real estate, hospitality businesses like Blaze Pizza, sports, and his production and entertainment company SpringHill.

Closing the list at 12th is Magic Johnson who recently became a billionaire in 2023. Although he was a star player, he made his fortune in business. Johnson has a controlling interest in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company which has $26 billion in assets and owns teams in four leagues.