By Sheila G | on 08/08/16

What Americans really think about the world’s highest paid celebrities

What do Taylor Swift, One Direction, James Patterson, Dr. Phil McGraw and Cristiano Ronaldo have in common? Fame, of course, but also an immense fortune.

When Forbes released its annual list reporting back the world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities, this group held the top 5 spots earning a combined $551 million dollars over the past 12 months.

The list includes an assortment of talent—musicians, athletes, actors and actresses, a handful of magicians, comedians, authors, models, and the pervasive but difficult to define “personalities.”

While these celebrities’ financial earnings are undeniable, we were curious about their actual value—those intangible traits that we, their adoring fans, see in them. Though Taylor Swift’s income of $170M puts her at the top of Forbes’ list, do Americans consider her worthy of her wealth? And just what elements contribute to her and her fellow Forbes celebrities success? Talent? Brand awareness? Attractiveness?

In order to get to the answer, we considered several elements of celebrity value—some positive ones like talent, respect, intelligence, business savvy, overall brand, and given the topic at hand, attractiveness—but also some negative ones like most overpaid and least respected.

After separating the celebrities into 5 categories—top 20 overall, actors and actresses, musicians, athletes, and media personalities—we used SurveyMonkey Audience, to gather the opinions of 2,500 adults. To determine the most valued celebrities in each category, a cumulative score was calculated by combining positive and negative dimensions.
And not surprisingly, given the opportunity to weigh in, Americans had some strong opinions about who was deserving of their fortune and who wasn’t.

The end result? SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity—a comprehensive rank of America’s most valued celebrities. When re-ranked according to these attributes, we see a great deal of movement among the top 20 on Forbes’ list. We uncovered who Americans considered most talented (Adele—number #9 according to Forbes), who had the highest IQ (#4 Dr. Phil McGraw), and who had the most staying power (#18 The Rolling Stones). While Rush Limbaugh (#10) earned the dubious honor of least respected, perhaps most tellingly, Americans felt LeBron James was unworthy of his #11 spot on the Forbes list and voted him most overpaid.

And unfortunately for Taylor Swift, when the final scores were tallied, she fell from the top. Not far—into second place—but she was indeed unseated by the Queen of Daytime TV, Ellen DeGeneres who climbed from #13 in Forbes’ list to the top of our list and named the most valued celebrity overall.

Stay tuned for more SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity as we continue to share more findings. To explore how the top 20 celebrities fared, click the links below:

Most Valued — Ellen DeGeneres

Most Attractive — Taylor Swift

Highest IQ — Dr. Phil McGraw

Most Business Savvy — Ellen DeGeneres

Biggest Contribution to Society — Ellen DeGeneres

Most Likely to Be Remembered in 100 Years — Rolling Stones

Most Overpaid — LeBron James

Most Respected — Ellen DeGeneres

Least Respected — Rush Limbaugh

Best Overall Brand — Taylor Swift

Best Social Media Presence — Taylor Swift

Most Likely to Trade Lives With for One Day — Ellen DeGeneres

Most Talented — Adele