Black celebrity news websites are full of stories about the lifestyles of the rich and the black and the famous. The 2017 Academy Awards even featured a surprise Best Picture win for Moonlight, the independent film directed by Barry Jenkins.
Black celebrity news is no longer a niche, it includes some of the biggest stars on the planet in music, sports, TV, and Hollywood. There are dozens of black celebrities with a net worth well north of $100 million, but how many of these black celebs have crossed the billion-dollar threshold? Not too many — at least not yet.
If you’ve ever wondered which black celebrities are worth more than $1 billion, then let’s take a break from your regularly scheduled celebrity gossip and count down the richest black stars on the planet.
So Far, There Are Only Two Black Celebrity Billionaires…
You knew this was coming…
Oprah Winfrey, Net Worth $3.1 Billion
Oprah Winfrey has crossed the billion-dollar threshold with a vengeance. Oprah officially became a billionaire in 2003, but not only that, she was actually the first black person to become a billionaire in North America (she’s still the only black multi-billionaire in the West). And she wasn’t just the first black woman to reach billionaire status, she was actually the only black billionaire in the world for several years.
Per Forbes’ most recent estimate, the Queen of Daytime TV is currently worth an incredible $3.1 billion.
How Oprah Made Her Billions
It would be easier to explain how Oprah didn’t make her billions, as she’s been involved in a number of industries, from her successful magazine to partnerships with companies like Weight Watchers. Then, of course, there’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” her cable network OWN, and her entertainment production company HarpoStudios Inc. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” ran for 25 seasons, finally going off the air in 2011. At the end of its first year the show had already grossed $125 million, and at its peak was pulling in more than 10 million viewers — a virtually unheard of feat for a daytime television show.
Michael Jordan, Net Worth $1.14 Billion
Michael Jordan is still considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time (sorry, Kobe), but there’s no denying that he’s the richest basketball player of all time. And while Lebron James fans might not agree that he’s the all-time greatest, there’s also no denying that Michael Jordan changed the game on and off the court. Not only did Michael Jordan make crazy amounts of money during his time with the Chicago Bulls, he also proved just how lucrative celebrity endorsements could be. Jordan was the face behind some of the most iconic sneakers of all time, such as the Air Jordan and Air Force One footwear lines.
How Michael Jordan Made His Billion
Almost every athlete who has signed an endorsement deal has Michael Jordan to thank, whose partnership with Nike has generated billions of dollars in sales over the years. The Jordan line of sneakers and apparel showed the corporate world just how much money could be made through celebrity-sponsored products, a trend that’s only grown on popularity since Jordan’s time with the Bulls.
On top of that, Jordan is also the majority shareholder of the new and almost improved Charlotte Hornets (formerly the Charlotte Bobcats). Besides his deal with Nike, you’ve also likely seen him in commercials for Hanes, Gatorade, and more.
Honorable Mention: Tiger Woods, Net Worth $740 Million
Jay-Z & Beyonce, Net Worth $900 Million to $1 Billion
So are Jay-Z and Beyonce billionaires?
It’s unclear whether Jay-Z and Beyonce have crossed the billion-dollar threshold yet, although black celebrity news sites will likely explode on the day Forbes finally makes it official. On their own, neither is close to crossing the billion-dollar mark, but combined, they’re right on the line. At this point, there’s no doubt that hip-hop’s first couple will become billionaires in the next few years.
According to some estimates, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s net worth has already surpassed $1 billion, but not everyone agrees. As of 2016, most black gossip sites agree that Jay-Z is worth about $610 million, while Beyonce’s net worth is a little more unclear. By some estimates, Beyonce is already worth more than $450 million, but more conservative estimates place her net worth at a measly $290 million following the couple’s incredibly successful joint tour.
How Jay-Z and Beyonce Made Their Millions
According to Forbes, Beyonce has generated more than $600 million in gross earnings as a pop star since 2008. Before that, she earned millions as a member of Destiny’s Child. Her husband Jay-Z has a particularly diverse financial portfolio.
In 2007, Jay-Z sold Rocawear for more than $200 million. He also has a $150 million deal with Live Nation, owns the Tidal streaming service, and holds a stake in the New Jersey Nets, among other business ventures. He’s also made some music that’s sold pretty well.
The celebrity gossip industry generates billions of dollars a year, thanks in large part to stars like Jay-Z and Beyonce. Black celebrity news is often dominated by this power couple, who will soon be joining elite company as some of the world’s only black billionaires.