Reality TV star Paris Hilton has made her latest stunning revelation – and, no, it doesn't involve photos of herself or any homemade videos.
The celebrity heiress actually revealed during an interview on CNN with Piers Morgan that she makes more than $10 million a year from selling 17 different product lines – everything from handbags and sunglasses to pet supplies.
While 10 million bucks may seem like an eye-popping figure, many celebrities, including Justin Bieber and Maria Sharapova, actually pull down even bigger fortunes by hawking various products and services.
Here's a run-down of seven other actors, athletes, singers and entertainers who sell an eclectic array of merchandise and consumer goods to beef up their bank accounts.
Surely you know about Beckham's prowess on the soccer field. But did you know this London-born athlete also sells two fragrances called "Instinct" and "Intimately"? A third scent, dubbed "Homme by David Beckham," is currently in development. And these scents bring in some sweet money for the soccer star. In fact, 80% of Beckham's 2011 earnings – which Forbes estimates will total $40 million – come from product endorsements and partnerships. And Beckham isn't done pushing products yet. By year's end, he plans to launch his own underwear and grooming businesses. Not a bad idea -- since the L.A. Galaxy midfielder isn't too shabby looking in a pair of underwear.
When Beyoncé sang "Independent Women" and her new hit, "Run the World (Girls)," I guess she really meant it. Despite the fact that her superstar hubby, Jay Z, has some pretty deep pockets, Beyoncé continues to bring home her own bacon – thank you very much – to the tune of $35 million in 2011. Not content with pulling in acting royalties and music-related earnings, Beyoncé keeps her personal cash register ringing courtesy of her Dereon clothing line and endorsement deals with a host of companies ranging from L'Oreal and DirecTV to General Mills. Talk about female empowerment! Plus, Bey is known to be a rare breed among celebs – a frugal kind of gal.
My 13-year-old daughter definitely has a bad case of Bieber fever – and so do millions of other teens, tweens and even their moms. All that love has helped the Canadian singer move well beyond the stage to amass a growing business brand. The Bieb has an impressive, if unlikely, mix of products he sells or lends his name to. There's that funky nail polish – with colors like "Baby Blue" – that teenagers especially go crazy over. It's officially called the One Less Lonely Girl nail polish collection for Nicole by OPI, and it's sold exclusively at Walmart, which said that within a few short weeks of its debut, all six of the line's launch colors sold out at more than 3,000 stores across America. The teen sensation also markets a "Someday" fragrance for women as well as a unisex fragrance called "My World." JB has even just inked a merchandising deal with the Middleton family – as in, Prince William's new bride, the former Kate Middleton. The Bieb will be selling piñatas and the "Justin Bieber Party Kit" for the Middleton family's party planning business. Bieber's 2011 earnings? A cool $53 million.
Since she spends much of her time sporting itty-bitty bikinis and barely-there underwear, perhaps it's no surprise that this year, Gisele will bank mega-bucks – I'm talking $64 million – thanks in large part to lingerie sales. In addition to doing her thing on the catwalk, Gisele has her own skincare line, Sejaa, and lucrative collaborations with Hope lingerie and Ipanema sandals. It must be nice to be a fashion icon, a happily married mom, and the world's top-earning supermodel.
The entertainment mogul formerly known as Sean "Puffy" Combs first stormed on the business scene with his Bad Boy record label. Then came his Sean Jean clothing line. But these days, Diddy is probably popping the champagne – or, more likely, the vodka – to celebrate his $475 million net worth and his $35 million in annual earnings. Half of Diddy's yearly pay comes from his deal helping to sell Ciroc vodka. And with Diddy's marketing savvy, Ciroc sales are up dramatically.
You might think that television viewers would be turned off by seeing a grown woman – 8 months pregnant and squeezed into a wedding dress – peeing into a silver champagne bucket on national TV. Not so for Bethenny Frankel of "The Real Housewives of New York" fame. Her audience loves, loves, loves her willingness to bare it all – and be upfront about her zany life.
A gushing profile on the cover of Forbes has further raised Frankel's profile, especially since the magazine called her the "It" girl of reality TV, crowned her "one of Hollywood's leading entrepreneurs," and asked "Can Bethenny Crack a Billion?" As in, a billion dollars. She's apparently well on her way, having sold her Skinnygirl line of cocktails to Fortune Brands' Beam Global for $100 million. Beyond that, Frankel is a virtual product machine, bringing in $55 million in fiscal 2011 alone on everything from liquor to books.
This tennis pro does well on the court. But off the court, she really aces the competition. Not only is Sharapova the top-grossing female athlete in America, she also happens to make ten times as much from retail partnership deals than she does swinging a racquet. Sharapova is expected to bank $24.2 million in 2011, most of it thanks to Nike, which pays her royalties on her lines of tennis apparel, and Cole Haan, which reports that Sharapova's ballet flat is a top-selling shoe.
While celebrity products can range from the outright fabulous to the utterly ridiculous, what they all have in common is that these stars are strategically using their fame – not to mention the power of the Internet – to reach a wider audience than ever before.
That's just one reason Hollywood A-listers and other bold-faced names aren't just getting rich by selling their own merchandise. Many, like rapper 50 Cent, don't have to actually sell a thing. They can just talk up a product – and do it publicly to their fan base. And the next thing you know...ka-ching! Celebrities can even make money Tweeting about products.
Clearly, gone are the days when entertainers and athletes only acted, sang or played pro sports for a living. Today, it's all about building a personal brand – and owning or licensing it, of course.
"I think people are going to look at Bethenny Frankel and the amount of money she made and think, 'Whoa, I should be building ownership in companies and brands, too,' " Bob Darwell, a partner at law firm Sheppard Mullin, which represents Frankel, recently told Forbes.
The actress herself was even more blunt in speaking to Forbes: "What's the point of being on TV," Frankel asked, "if you don't have something to sell."
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