The American entertainment industry is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Films regularly gross hundreds of millions on their release, dwarfing the production and distribution costs. Studios plow these revenues back into production, creating even better films and TV shows. We see famous people and popular entertainment on traditional cable services like Spectrum TV packages as well as modern streaming platforms like Netflix, not to mention theatres (although that hasn’t happened in 2022). Regardless, this huge machine that we call the American entertainment industry has generated an endless list of celebrities. However, a few of them stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, especially in terms of net worth.
Read on to find out more about which celebrities top the charts in terms of wealth.
The Richest American Celebrities in 2022
The term “celebrity” has broken free of rigid constraints over recent years. What was once used to define top-shelf talent from showbiz has a much broader definition. Instagram influencers often obtain celebrity status. YouTubers are a whole different breed of celebrity. Younger entertainment consumers may consider a viral internet sensation to be a celebrity. In fact, the top two entries on our list have little to no screen time at all, but their net worth still dwarfs even the most famous YouTubers or the most popular social media influencers. Here are the top 5 wealthiest celebrities in the United States in 2022:
- George Lucas ($6.5 Billion)
- Steven Spielberg ($3.7 Billion)
- Oprah Winfrey ($3.5 Billion)
- Kanye West ($3.2 Billion)
- Donald Trump ($3.1 Billion)
Read on for a closer look at these celebs and how they achieved billionaire status in the entertainment industry.
George Lucas ($6.5 Billion)
George Lucas may not have appeared on a lot of film sets. But he is still the main driving force behind two of the biggest franchises in Hollywood entertainment. Indiana Jones and Star Wars are lasting legacies that have remained part of pop culture, not just in the United States, but across the larger world. Star Wars, the iconic futuristic sci-fi fantasy, has been beloved by hardcore fans and casual viewers alike for decades. The funny thing is, George Lucas actually had a very hard time finding anyone to finance his project. Star Wars was just too outlandish at the time for many big-name studios like Fox or Warner Bros or even Disney (who owns Lucasfilm today) to take seriously. Luckily, George Lucas managed to pull together enough funding to finance the project under his own Lucasfilms productions, and so, arguably the greatest sci-fi saga to ever grace the big screen was born.
Star Wars may have been a breakthrough and a very lucrative one, but it isn’t the only enduring legacy George Lucas is known for. Harrison Ford, with an impressive list of films under his belt, is best-known for a role created by Lucas as well. That’s right, George Lucas is also the brains behind the wildly popular and over-the-top adventures of Indiana Jones. Like Star Wars, Indiana Jones is still going strong, earning Lucas big bucks to this day. Thanks to these two major projects, as well as other successful ones, George Lucas has an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion, the highest for celebrities anywhere.
Steven Spielberg ($3.7 Billion)
Like his buddy George Lucas, Steven Speilberg also hasn’t spent much time in front of the camera. But that hasn’t prevented him from becoming a household name everywhere American cinema is consumed. A visionary and trailblazer in the truest sense, Speilberg’s resume of films is almost intimidating. From Schindler’s List to ET The Extraterrestrial to Jurassic Park to Jaws, Spielberg films have set the tone for every decade. With a long list of successful, block-busting movies that have consistently won critical acclaim, Spielberg has managed to net himself a comfortable estimated worth of $3.7 billion.
Oprah Winfrey ($3.5 Billion)
Don’t worry, we have some celebrities on this list that fit the conventional notion as well. And nobody defines a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey. The self-made media mogul overcame immense odds to attain her lofty position in the entertainment world and in the public eye. Her reputation for selfless philanthropy is only matched by the success of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which is by far one of the most successful talk shows in the country. Using her production company Harpo, Oprah has consistently worked on creating films, publications, and even a TV network, to empower and support African American culture.
Kanye West ($3.2 Billion)
Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. Since he broke out on the hip-hop scene in2004, the Chicago-born rapper has been a polarizing figure to many. Known for his eccentricities, frequent Twitter beefs, his marriage to reality-TV queen Kim Kardashian, and a complete disregard for how people perceive him, Kanye has cemented his place in the hiphop world. While you may not always find him easy to like, Kanye has proven he isn’t just a skilled rapper, but a keen businessman as well.
Following the huge success of his early projects, Kanye shrewdly diversified his investments. Most prominent is his Yeezy clothing brand. Kanye’s successful financial moves have helped him rocket upwards in terms of wealth, setting him at the number 4 spot with 3.2 billion.
Donald Trump ($3.1 Billion)
Okay, we were expecting that reaction. Donald Trump, after all, has had one of the most polarizing presidencies in the history of the United States. But his status as the 45th President of the United States of America, as well as his controversial policies, aren’t the reason he is on this list.
Before “The Donald” tried his hand at national politics, he was already a very successful, very popular, and very wealthy man. Trump hails from a rich family, primarily sourced in real estate and development. Who hasn’t heard of Trump Tower right? And he wasn’t content with simply being a wealthy businessman either. From a cameo on Home Alone 2 to a huge following in The Apprentice, Trump wasn’t just a known face, people actually wanted to be like him, especially in the late 20th Century. A lot of people considered him the ultimate role model for financial and business success, in favor of others like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates (both of whom are far wealthier).
For many, Trump embodied the success, status, and celebrity that we all so deeply desire. Of course, some of that may have changed because I can’t use my Spectrum internet plan without at least one Trump meme popping up on my social feeds. But despite declaring bankruptcy multiple times, Donald Trump has still managed to build a $3.1 billion real estate and investment empire that places him squarely at the 5th spot.