Toby Keith tops Forbes' "Highest-Paid" list

No, he didn't out-earn Lady Gaga, who topped Forbes' list of highest-paid celebrities, but at his $50 million to her $4.5 billion, Toby Keith was at the top of the list of country artists, thanks in part to his chain of country-themed restaurants/music venues.

Here's how the rest of the list shook out; don't worry, the folks you'd expect would sell out all did.

#10 - Sugarland, $18 million

Their endorsements are sparse, so this two-piece made most of its money on royalties - their 2010 album

The Incredible Machine

was certified platinum in just three months - and on touring. Sugarland racked up 75 tour dates and $8 million during the year, including an August appearance at the Indiana State Fair where seven people were killed after stage trappings collapsed in high winds.

#9 - Carrie Underwood, $20 million

The former

American Idol

winner is now a popular country mainstay, and in the past year has signed a spokesmodel deal for Olay Skin Care and made her movie debut playing a Christian youth minister in the Bethany Hamilton surfer shark attack biopic

Soul Surfer.

#8 - Alan Jackson, $22 million

With over two decades of performing under his belt, Alan Jackson's November 2010 gold-certified release

34 Number Ones

no doubt helped fill his coffers over the past year, keeping him on the trajectory away from the tiny home he shared as a child with his mother, father and four sisters (where he occasionally slept on a bed in the hallway), to his first job at the age of 12 in a shoe store, and eventually his mail room job at The Nashville Network, where he met Glen Campbell, the man responsible for helping to jump-start his early career. His mother still lives in that tiny house; whether that's a testament to their down-home rootedness or his fiscal conservatism, we can't say.

#7 - George Strait, $24 million

At 59, George Strait is the oldest singer on this list, but that don't mean he can't hustle; he made most of his money playing thirty shows, each pulling in about $1.4 million. In addition to the millions in royalties he earns from hits dating back to 1981, Strait has a line of Wrangler clothing, a company which helped promote his 2009 album,



#6 - Kenny Chesney, $30 million

Country's answer to Jimmy Buffett proves that people


to hear songs about drinking on beaches and takin' it easy and whatnot. Last year, Chesney seemed to live the life of a laid-back beach bum, likely relaxing on his 60' Sea Ray yacht or in his Virgin Islands home. But when you can pull in $1.6 million every night, as well as approximately $7.5 million in royalties thanks to your omnipresence on the radio, it's easy to only play a couple shows a month and still afford that yacht.

  #5 - Rascal Flatts, $34 million

People love this shit. What can I say.

#4 - Tim McGraw, $35 million

While his live shows don't pull in the same kind of money as an act like Kenny Chesney or George Strait, Tim McGraw took in an estimated $3.3 million from his year's forays into acting -

Country Strong and Dirty Girl

- and his successful cologne line doesn't hurt, either. A chunk of McGraw's money ends up back in the community - he and his wife Faith Hill are known for their philanthropic work. And who knows, another chunk might someday end up in a campaign fund. McGraw, a self-described "Blue Dog Democrat," has stated an interest in running for office in Tennessee in the future.

#3 - Brad Paisley, $40 million

Over half of Brad Paisley's earnings were thanks to two major tours - and the Chevy, Sea Ray, and other sponsorship deals they incorporated. His Belmont University degree in music business has no doubt served him well; in addition to performing, in the past year the music publishing company he co-founded was named ASCAP's Country Publisher of the Year, he put out his ninth album in a little over ten years, and put the finishing touches on a book due out in November. He's no doubt providing well for his wife actress Kimberly Williams, with whom he became enamored after seeing her in the

Father of the Bride

series, and their two kids Huck and Jasper.

#2 - Taylor Swift, $45 million

Impressive album sales, sell-out concert tours, celebrity doppelganger dolls, Taylor Swift L.E.I. jeans, an Elizabeth Arden Fragrance, and recognition as one of


's "100 Most Beautiful People" three years running,


's 31st "Sexiest," and a "Movie Female Breakout"

Teen Choice Award

for her role in the film

Valentine's Day

... Really Taylor, you couldn't edge out Toby Keith? You're slippin', girl.

#1 - Toby Keith, $50 million


"Like" Gimme Noise on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gimme_noise.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >