Over the past decade, social media has gone from a tool for connecting people and helping friends stay in touch, to a means of boosting brand awareness through an extremely accessible advertising platform. Through the rise of the Instagram influencer and sponsored posts, the mere business of uploading a simple post to Instagram can be lucrative beyond your wildest imagination.
The widespread reach that the top Instagram stars boasts is the perfect base for disseminating messaging whether for their own brand purposes or for those of outside advertisers. But your jaw will truly drop when you see just what the Internet elite, already famous and making bank for other reasons, are paid for each of their posts. The results are more than many people make in a year.
25. Emily Ratajkowski – $26,500
Seeking to empower women by example, Emily Ratajkowski’s career is firmly cemented in her beliefs about having a positive body image, and rocking it. She began her career by modeling for magazines and commercials, all the while attempting to merge into acting. But it was by celebrating her body on television that this now-social media superstar and swimwear designer was able to break through.
Emily launched herself in the public sphere thanks to her appearance in two sensational music videos by Robin Thicke and Maroon 5 — not to mention the controversy and publicity that the former attracted. Since then, she has become one of the most well-known models on the planet, and the pay for her Instagram posts certainly reflects that.
24. Bella Hadid – $27,000
It’s reality TV that helped Bella Hadid, who comes from an entire clan of Instagram elite, become a household name. The Hadid family came into the public eye thanks to matriarch Yolanda’s appearance on the hit reality TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. One by one, her talented and genetically blessed children snagged modeling contracts.
Bella Hadid has been featured on magazine covers the world over, and she has taken the catwalk by storm at the fashion world’s most prestigious shows from The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to Versachi and Michael Kors, to name a few. With such unforgettable style and a superstar entourage to match, it was only a matter of time before she became one of the leading personalities on Instagram out there.
23. Sommer Ray – $29,000
A self-proclaimed country girl who grew up in Colorado on a ranch, fitness model Sommer Ray began her career through aspiring to be just like her older sister, when she saw her posing for photo shoots. Well-versed in physical fitness, she had been competing as a bodybuilder since the age of 16.
With more than 20 million Instagram followers, Sommer sets herself apart by having a reported all-natural approach. She maintains her status as a fitness guru thanks to healthy eating and a determined workout regimen. But Sommer has gone on from being known as a fitness guru, using Instagram to flaunt her personality too.
22. Zach King – $30,000
The sunny and goofy personality that is Zach King shot into superstardom thanks to the modern marvels of the digital age. After he had already snagged millions of views for a YouTube video digitally edited to feature cats having a lightsaber duel, he then eyed his next medium: Vine.
By using Vine’s format of six-second videos, and some extraordinarily clever and expertly-executed quick edits, Zach King became the most famous online wizards that ever was. Once he transitioned his craft from Vine to Instagram, his short but imaginative clips became even more popular, attracting more than 20 million followers to his account.
21. Eleonora Pons – $32,500
Known also by her nickname Lele, Eleonora Pons was born in Venezuela, and grew up in Miami after her family immigrated. Lele honed her comedy chops in school, where she’s noted that she had trouble fitting in. When she opened her account on Vine, the online world could scarcely understand what had hit them.
Lele’s style of rapid-fire comedy sketches wrapped up with a twist ending earned her the title of the most-played and most-followed Viner of all time, having received more than an eye-popping billion views before the site shut down. She has since branched into acting, singing, and modeling, as well as hosting Mexico’s version of the TV show The Voice.
20. Huda Kattan – $33,000
Instagram as well as the rest of the online world is filled with scores of makeup artists giving video tutorials, but almost none have been quite as successful as Huda Kattan. This Iraqi-American entrepreneur began her career by using her makeup talents for A-list celebrities, but the Internet needed to see her abilities too.
After becoming a makeup blogger, Huda founded her own cosmetics company, all before becoming a presence on Instagram. Regularly posting videos of herself and colleagues demonstrating makeup tips, the self-made beauty mogul isn’t solely one of the top Instagram personality in her field. Given how much she can make off a single post, she is one of the highest-earning Instagram influencers ever.
19. Floyd Mayweather – $107,000
You could say his career path was all but inescapable. Pro boxer Floyd Mayweather’s father and two uncles were all professional boxers, and thanks to their training, he started his own career in the sport with the endearing nickname “Pretty Boy.” Because of all those slick defensive moves he had been raised on, he rarely got swiped.
An Olympic medalist for his boxing prowess, Floyd Mayweather’s social media presence has given Instagram quite the punch. As one of the top-earning pay-per-view sportsmen of all time, it was only natural that he would go on to become one of the highest-paid Instagram stars ever, collecting a hefty revenue from each endorsed post to cushion his prize money earnings.
18. Stephen Curry – $110,000
He’s the mild-mannered basketball player who brought fame and glory to Oakland. Even those who aren’t sports fans know and recognize Stephen Curry, who is likely to be one of the first names to come to mind when describing the basketball stars of this generation. What’s more, he’s using his powers for good.
World-renowned for his absolutely astonishing shooting range, Curry saw in his gift an opportunity to give back, vowing that for each three-point shot he scored, he would donate three mosquito nets with insecticide to areas suffering from malaria. Whether he’s promoting Under Armour, shooting hoops, or simply sharing his happy moments, Curry is one of the leading Instagram account owners in sport.
17. Virat Kohli – $120,000
As the top sports star in the nation that contains the second-largest population on Earth, there’s just no way that Virat Kohli couldn’t be one of the highest-paid Instagram stars today. He’s the captain of India’s national cricket team, and as thus is regarded as the champion of his country’s favorite sport.
As one of the largest record-holders in the history of his sport, Virat Kohli has plenty opportunities to share his talents with his massive Instagram audience of 32 million followers. When he’s not training, playing, or celebrating his successes, he takes a moment to share with his online fans his love for his Bollywood actress wife, Anushka Sharma.
16. Conor McGregor – $125,000
Whether you’re a massive boxing enthusiast, have watched television commercials for just a few moments, driven by his billboard ads or are one of his Instagram following of more than 30 million strong, you definitely know Conor McGregor’s face. He’s one of the biggest names in boxing, and has been able to snatch up a series of incredibly lucrative endorsement placements.
As enormously successful as he’s been as a boxer and social media figure, the Irish welterweight has also been a shrewd businessman. He’s established his own brand of menswear suits, as well as his own label of whiskey. But it’s because of his deals with popular companies such as Reebok, Burger King, and Monster Energy that his reputation has become truly world-famous.
15. Luis Suárez – $150,000
FC Barcelona is one of the most popular and financially valuable soccer teams in the world, with its merchandising likely to be found in almost any place you may travel. As the striker for this fan-favorite team, Luis Suárez is one of the most easily recognized names and faces on and off the field.
Hailing from Uruguay, a nation known for producing giants of the soccer field and World Cup, Suárez also plays for his home country’s national team in international soccer competitions. In fact, with upward of 32 million virtual followers, he has the most Instagram followers of any Uruguayan and is one of South America’s leading Instagram figures.
14. Zlatan Ibrahimović – $175,000
Swedish sports star Zlatan Ibrahimović is the third most-decorated soccer player still actively employed in his field. He’s an impressively agile and even acrobatic striker who is so extraordinarily popular, that he was one of the top choices to bring over to the US in an attempt to boost soccer appreciation there. Zlatan now plays for the MLS’s LA Galaxy — but that’s just one piece of his legend.
Off the pitch, it’s not just his stature of nearly 6’4″ that’s larger than life. Zlatan is known for referring to himself in the third person and as a lion. Not only that, but seeing that he’s recognized on a first-name basis by his fans worldwide, he’s had it trademarked. With upward of 36 million followers, he’s notably among the most bombastic of the world’s top-earning stars on Instagram.
13. Gareth Bale – $185,000
Real Madrid is one of the most beloved soccer teams in existence, and its winger, Gareth Bale, rakes in a neat salary as would befit one of the most important Instagram personalities out there. Even at the start of his career, he became a superlative, as the second-youngest player ever on Southampton’s team.
From the age of 16 onwards, Bale shot up into the stratosphere of British footballing stardom. He represents his home country Wales by playing on their national team. Because of the revenue he collects just by posting on Instagram, he just so happens to be the second-highest paid person in the United Kingdom.
12. David Beckham – $300,000
You may be able to bend it like him, but can you post like him? David Beckham is not just one of the most popular soccer players on the planet, but probably one of the most famous faces of modern times. Now retired, he played across Europe and in Los Angeles throughout his over two-decade career on the field.
He can now boast yet another title to add to his hefty list of lifetime achievements: the top-earning man in the United Kingdom, as the foremost of his country’s Instagram stars. With his endearing smile, he now enjoys sharing his good times with friends and family for his online audiences.
11. Khloé Kardashian – $480,000
The many representatives of America’s televised version of the royal family, the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty, are obvious choices to be among the highest-paid individuals on Instagram in the world, and Khloé is no exception. The youngest Kardashian sister makes serious bank not just on her beauty products, clothing lines, and Coca-Cola endorsements, but her Instagram posts.
Used to an inside look at the glamorous lives of Khloé and her kin on reality TV, social media has provided fans with an even more intimate and constant glimpse of the outspoken Keeping Up With The Kardashians star. Khloé has a new addition to her life, baby girl True, and she loves to share tender more behind-the-scenes moments with her first child for her 91 million adoring followers on Instagram.
10. Kendall Jenner – $500,000
Her family’s incalculably astronomical success on their reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians helped steer the spotlight to Kendall Jenner, who made a name for herself in her own right amid her massive clan. As she climbed the ladder of the modeling world, it was only a matter of time before she became the highest-paid model in the world.
Kendall made the top of Forbes Magazine’s list of the highest-earning models in 2017. Think of any name whatsoever in the fashion and design world today, and chances are highly likely that even at the tender age of 23, Kendall Jenner has already had the opportunity to represent them.
9. Lionel Messi – $500,000
One of the highest-paid sports players in history can also manage to rake in a whopping sum of a half a million dollars for sponsored posts uploaded to his Instagram page. You can see Messi’s name on billboards and the backs of T-shirts in practically any country around the globe. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed not to find it.
Famous not only for his mastery as a soccer player but also for his charitable work, Messi has dedicated his professional career to the betterment of children at risk. This hero from Argentina started his work at UNICEF before branching off and creating his own charity, the Leo Messi Foundation.
8. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior – $600,000
It takes some truly legendary talent to be known worldwide just by your first name, and Neymar is the rule, not the exception. Bobbing, weaving, attacking, and yes, rolling his way into the hearts of hundreds of millions of fans the world over, Neymar is considered by many to be the top soccer player in the world.
The Brazilian icon comes behind only the legends Pelé and Ronaldo themselves as scoring the third-highest amount of goals for his national team — a jaw-dropping feat in one of the planet’s largest nations. He’s one of the highest-paid Instagram stars per post, and even Time has listed him as one of the world’s most influential personalities.
7. Justin Bieber – $630,000
Once upon a time, Justin Bieber was that little Canadian boy who was discovered by accident through his YouTube videos. He grew up before the world’s eyes, inspiring a generation of haircuts, fashion statements, and has continued to place his mark on the soundtrack of an era. These days, his Instagram account is easily one of the most lucrative.
With an obvious eye for flair, more often than not Justin Bieber uses his Instagram page to share the latest flashy clothes that have caught his eye. Most recently, he pranked his Instagram following of more than 100 million on April Fools’, joking that his wife Hailey was pregnant by way of a series of extremely believable posts.
6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – $650,000
He’s quite possibly today’s hardest-working man in show business. With a story and life mission as unique and grandiose as they come, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson initially made a name and brand for himself as a professional wrestler — but for this friendly giant, that was just the beginning of a remarkable path.
Despite his imposing physique, Johnson has endeared hundreds of millions of fans worldwide with his charm and good-natured down to Earth persona. A leading big-screen action and comedy actor, he uses his position as one of the highest-paid stars on Instagram to also share bits of wisdom and detailed insights into his life to his nearly 140 million followers.
5. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter – $700,000
How could Queen Bee herself be anything but one of the highest-paid Instagram stars on the planet? Placing anywhere lower than spot five among the top-paid Instagram personalities would seem downright illogical for one of the most beloved and worshipped performers of all time. Beyoncé’s income from her Instagram truly seems to have a life of its own.
Beyoncé’s Instagram always keeps her more than 125 million followers guessing, as her look can change in the blink of an eye, with a wild variety of styles and eye-catching splashes of color. Her own endless creativity and that of the artists she surrounds herself with lends for one of the most entertaining Instagram accounts out there.
4. Kim Kardashian West – $720,000
She rose out of reality television to become one of the greatest names in fashion and celebrity, and one of the best-known faces of the modern era. Equal parts sheer luck and hard diligence have paid off for this superstar, working her way into the very fabric that comprises pop culture today.
Kim Kardashian’s marriage to rap mogul Kanye West was like the confluence of two titanic dynasties, and her children have been featured prominently on her Instagram page of late. Through her stated mission to “break the Internet,” Kim has dedicated herself to becoming the queen of social media over the past few years, and Instagram is no exception.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo – $750,000
It’s official. There’s simply no avoiding it. Just ask ESPN: Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous athlete on the planet. He’s the leading man in the world’s most popular sport, soccer, but outside of his main profession, he has also made a name for himself as the top athlete among the highest-paid personalities on Instagram. And it’s perhaps no surprise seeing that his account boasts more than 160 million followers.
While he plays for Portugal’s national team, Cristiano Ronaldo’s award-winning smile has be seen in television commercials from his home country to Israel to Japan. With a flamboyant courtside presence that fans just eat up, he’s slid his way into near immortality, inspiring legions of fans and aspiring soccer players in every corner of the globe.
2. Selena Gomez – $800,000
Part of the glory of Selena Gomez is that her fanbase of Generation Z’ers have enjoyed watching her grow up with them. They’ve seen her since she was a child acting in lighthearted sitcoms on the Disney Channel, they remember when she launched her music career and subsequently shot up to become a huge fashion and pop culture icon. And she’s been right there with them for the ride as social media became a phenomenon in the first place.
But Selena Gomez’s unbelievably enormous career as a singer and celebrity personality has become so much more than her natural talents and endorsements. When at 17 she became the youngest current UNICEF Ambassador, she set the stage for a career firmly grounded in charity work. She has made sure that just as her star rises, so too should her positive influence on the needy. And with an Instagram follow of nearly 150 million, she has a huge platform for sharing that message.
1. Kylie Jenner – $1,000,000
Each member of the Kardashian-Jenner family has made a brand for themselves thanks in large to their collective fame. Half-sister Kim Kardashian may have been the initial breakout star of their reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but it was Kylie who would climb to the top and make history as the world’s top-earning individual on Instagram.
Her own brand of cosmetics has proven to be fantastically marketable, but her social media presence is what sets Kylie Jenner apart from all the rest. With her online followers currently ranking at 131 million, she is not only Instagram’s highest-paid poster, but one of its most popular personalities ever.
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