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While she hasn't stormed Silicon Valley just yet, Jennifer Lopez is a state-of-the-art celebrity success story. With $52 million in earnings over the last 12 months and a massive amount of fame, Lopez lands at No. 1 on Forbes' Celebrity 100 list for the first time.
A few years ago it looked like Lopez was done. Her albums, like the all-Spanish Como Ama una Mujer, failed to find the broad audience she once enjoyed. Her movies, like "El Cantante," flopped.
Then in 2010 the singer landed a judge's chair on "American Idol." The job gave her a platform to promote her music and turn her image around. It didn't hurt that she also split from her husband, Marc Anthony. Suddenly a single mother, Lopez lapped up the media attention and scored lucrative endorsement deals with companies like L'Oreal and Gillette. She now has a line of clothing at Kohl's, a top-selling fragrance, and she was able to secure a nice bump — to $20 million — on her "Idol" salary for a second season. With 6.6 million followers on Twitter and 12 million fans on Facebook, she's also proved a master of social media.
Lopez unseats Lady Gaga, who topped the list last year. The pop star slides to fifth place on our list this time around with $52 million in earnings, down from $90 million last year (Gaga didn't tour much in the last 12 months). Her new album, Born This Way, was still a smash hit, selling 1 million copies its first week out.
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Ranking third on our list is Justin Bieber. Only 18, Bieber is making his second appearance on our list. The star earned $55 million in the past year thanks to touring and record sales, but as he explains in our cover story, Bieber is more than just a pop star. He's also a budding venture capitalist. Bieber has used his fame and fortune to invest in startup companies like Spotify, Tinychat, and Enflick.
Rihanna lands on our list for the first time — in slot number four — thanks to hits including "We Found Love" and "Talk That Talk," as well as endorsements with the likes of Vita Coco and Nivea. Her fragrance, Reb'l Fleur, adds millions more to her coffers, as does her heavy touring schedule that included over 85 shows in the past 12 months. With over 53 million Facebook fans, she's second only to Eminem.
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With most of our lists we keep it strictly on the money: earnings or net worth. The Celebrity 100 is a little different. This list — which includes film and television actors, TV personalities, models, athletes, authors, musicians, and comedians — measures money and fame. We define fame as media visibility in print, television, radio, and online, plus social media power, which we measure by looking at each celebrity's presence on Facebook and Twitter. The earnings consist of pretax income between May 1, 2011, and May 1, 2012. Management, agent, and attorney fees are not deducted. Forbes has been publishing the list annually since 1999.
Crunching all of those numbers always ensures we have an interesting slew of new people on the list; this year, Kim and Khloe Kardashian made the cut. Say what you want about the sisters, but they know how to stay famous and earn millions. Thanks to the money she earned from her wedding (and the publicity she earned from her divorce just a few months later), Kim ranks sixth with $18 million. Khloe, who has her own successful spin-off show ("Khloe and Lamar"), ranks 73rd with $11 million.
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Another newcomer: Ashton Kutcher. The actor, who took over the lead role on "Two and a Half Men" following Charlie Sheen's very public meltdown, is now one of the highest-paid men on television. (Sheen failed to make the list this year.) He's also a savvy tech investor who managed to get in early on companies like Skype, Spotify, and Airbnb, which is now worth a reported $1 billion. Kutcher, who is a Twitter superstar, got plenty of press attention this year for his personal life as well as his professional life. He split from his wife of six years, Demi Moore, last fall. The actor debuts in 51st place with $24 million.
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