The pen may be mightier than the sword, but a magic wand is more powerful than either, or at least according to this year’s Forbes’ list of the world’s richest celebrities. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling earned more than any other celebrity, according to the annual Celebrity 100 list, taking home $300 million last year. There were other strong performances too from Keira Knightley, announced as the world’s second best paid female actor , Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe and David Beckham.
Since Ms. Rowling’s first story about the boy wizard arrived in bookstores in 1997, some 375 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. The final instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has sold 44 million since it came out last July, according to the U.S. business magazine.
She earned more than U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who made $275 million. However, Oprah can take at least some of the credit for helping British author Ken Follett, who earned $20 million after she recommended his 1989 book Pillars Of The Earth on her show last year.
Ms. Rowling is not the only one cashing in on the Potter legacy. Child star turned pinup Radcliffe, 19, came joint top of the Tweens list of young mega-earners, proving that stripping naked and disfiguring horses in the London revival of Peter Shaffer’s Equus can only boost your purchasing power. He shared the top spot with Miley Cyrus, 15, (aka TV’s Hannah Montana), with both stars taking home $25 million last year. Radcliffe’s Potter co-stars Emma Watson, 18, who plays Hermione and Rupert Grint, 19, who plays Ron Weasley, made it into the top 10, earning $5.5 million and $5 million.
Knightley earned $32 million for her role in At World’s End, and Atonement. She was beaten by Cameron Diaz, who earned $50 million. Will Smith was the highest paid male actor with $80 million.
The former England captain, David Beckham, came second in the top 10 list of highest paid male athletes. And the top honour: golf star Tiger Woods at $115 million. The highest paid female athlete spot went to tennis star Maria Sharapova after she earned $26 million last year.
Rock veterans the Police were among the 27 newcomers to make the Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of $115 million while Mark Burnett, the producer responsible for Survivor and The Apprentice TV shows, took home $60 million.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008