Lady Gaga has had a good year. The evidence is pretty obvious: She’s sold millions of albums and downloads, headlined a major world tour, made the cover of nearly every magazine and recorded one of the most anticipated albums in ages.
But what really says you’re having the best year ever? Leaping over Oprah Winfrey on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list in the same year that the Queen of All Media launched a new network and wound down the most popular daytime talker in the history of the medium.
Lady Gaga topped the list released by Forbes on Wednesday, leaping four spots from last year on the ranking of entertainment industry power, fueled by earnings, media visibility and social media popularity. It’s only the third time in seven years that anyone has moved past Winfrey on the list, and Gaga did it by earning $90 million from her Monster Ball tour, rolling up 32 million Facebook fans and becoming the first star to corral 10 million Twitter followers .
All those Little Monsters helped her sell 1 million digital downloads of the title track from the just-leaked Born This Way in five days. They also bought MAC makeup, Monster headphones and Virgin Mobile phones that were endorsed by Gaga (and featured in her videos). Her Monster Ball tour grossed $170 million from 137 shows; she’s sold 15 million albums worldwide and has endorsement deals with Polaroid, Monster Cable and PlentyofFish.com. Also, a Russian billionaire reportedly paid $1 million to appear in the “Alejandro” video.
“Lady Gaga beat Oprah this year because of her social media power. She can use Twitter and Facebook to work the ‘little monsters’ into a frenzy that leads to record sales and media attention,” Forbes editor Dorothy Pomerantz told Reuters. “She’s the best example of how celebrities will need to manage their careers in the coming years.”
With her syndicated “The Oprah Winfrey Show” ending its legendary run next week after 25 years, Winfrey didn’t fall far to #2, thanks to estimated earnings of $290 million. Her wealth came in as a result of the fees from her show, as well as the programs from the stars she’s created, including Rachel Ray and Dr. Oz.
Justin Bieber is the youngest person on the list, debuting on the tally at an impressive #3, courtesy of an estimated $53 million in earnings from concerts (which bring in $600,000 a night), music sales and the “Never Say Never” movie, which grossed close to $100 million at the global box office and is now out on DVD.
Irish rock legends U2 are at #4 with $195 million, mostly due to their 360 Tour, which became the highest-grossing tour in history last year, with estimated grosses of $700 million by the time it wraps up this summer.
At #5 is Sir Elton John, who grossed $204 million for 102 concerts over the past year. Rounding out the top 10 are disgraced golfer Tiger Woods, Taylor Swift, veteran Jersey rockers Bon Jovi, “X Factor” boss Simon Cowell and Miami Heat star LeBron James.
Other notables: Angelina Jolie (#11), list newcomer Katy Perry (#12), Johnny Depp (#13), Leonardo DiCaprio (#15), the Black Eyed Peas (#16), “American Idol” host and media mogul Ryan Seacrest (#24), former TV star Charlie Sheen (#28), Beyoncé (#29), Usher (#32), Muse (#34), Jay-Z (#38), “Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez (#50), Diddy (#52), Robert Pattinson (#53), Kristen Stewart (#63), Eminem (#71), Kanye West (#76) and Lil Wayne (#85).