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Why Ivanka Trumps Melania As A World’s Most Powerful Woman

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Forbes’ 100 World’s Most Powerful Women 2017 ranking features only one Trump—and it’s not the First Lady. Since its inception in 2004, this is the first time our annual directory of the women who matter most on the global stage does not include the wife of the U.S. president. It is also the only time a First Daughter has found herself in the ranking: Ivanka Trump lands as the No. 19 Most Powerful Woman. As Ivanka—a senior advisor to President Donald Trump —has risen as a weighty voice in the White House, Melania Trump appears to have assumed a far quieter role.

Officially advising her father since March, Ivanka has been both praised and criticized for her influence in the Trump Administration. The First Daughter (and wife of Jared Kushner, also a senior advisor to the president) is known to have more liberal views than 45. While it’s widely contested how much she has been able to tip her father’s policies to the left, she is one of the few women who are close to the highest office in the country.

See Full List: 100 World’s Most Powerful Women

“I am a real estate developer and an entrepreneur. More important, I’m a wife and a mother,” Ivanka wrote in her 2017 self-help book called Women Who Work. “I design and build iconic properties all over the world; I have also created and am growing a business that seeks to inspire and empower women in all aspects of their lives. I’m busy teaching my children the value of hard work and the importance of family.”

As the founder of her eponymous retail brand, Ivanka Trump has been a self-proclaimed women’s rights advocate long before her role at the White House. She launched the initiative Women Who Work in 2014 (a precursor to her 2017 book), highlighting the lives of working American women and mothers. By the time she joined the family quest to the ultimate frontier; the White House, she had already taken the reins of the family business as the executive VP at the Trump Organization, and the cofounder of Trump Hotels and their more affordable hotel line, Scion. In June 2015, however, she took on a different role and introduced her father when he declared his candidacy in New York City. A little over a year later, she set the stage for him at the Republican National Convention.

“My father values talent. He recognizes real knowledge and skill when he finds it. He is color blind and gender neutral,” the soon-to-be first daughter said as she addressed 50,000 people in Cleveland, “he will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.” Since her father announced he would pursue a ticket to the White House, Ivanka has claimed women’s rights would be central to the Trump presidency—even after the Washington Post released an Access Hollywood tape from 2005 which revealed Trump’s lewd remarks about women.

Whether the extent of Ivanka’s influence has been what many have anticipated remains unclear, however. Ivanka, who identifies herself as a political independent, joined congressional Republicans like Marco Rubio in October to call for an increase in the child tax credit, one of her projects under her father’s presidency. She also spearheaded a memorandum in September that set aside at least $200 million to prioritize teaching coding in U.S. schools, especially for girls and minorities.

Yet, the senior advisor has also been widely scrutinized, especially by those who thought she would challenge some of her father’s social views. In July—a month after Ivanka declared her support for the LGBTQ community—many took to Twitter to criticize her lack of apparent response to Trump’s proposed ban on transgender individuals serving in the army. “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy,” she had tweeted during the NYC Pride Week.

In the first months of his presidency, Trump also took a lot of heat for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, for extending the “global gag rule,” and for not immediately denouncing neo-Nazis and the KKK after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, causing Ivanka to be depicted as “complicit,” especially by those who disapprove of the current trajectory of the Trump presidency.

“If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact then I’m complicit,” the advisor told CBS This Morning in April. “I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I am doing.”

“The musical Hamilton showed us that it matters to be in the ‘room where it happens.’ Ivanka wants everyone to know she was in the room, but was not responsible for whatever happens,” said Andrea Purse, former White House communications staffer during the Obama Administration. “On issue after issue—on climate, LGBT issues, ‘women’s’ issues that she claims to care about, she has failed to deliver when it mattered most.”

In August, Ivanka was under heavy fire again due to her support for the halt of a planned Obama-era rule that would have required businesses to begin collecting data to combat pay discrimination, a cause she has championed. “Whether my contribution ultimately lives up to the expectations of some of the harshest critics? Only time will tell,” she told the Financial Times in September.

Unlike Ivanka, Melania Trump fails to join the Most Powerful Women list as D.C. insiders claim that she hasn’t completely stepped up to the challenge yet. The First Lady trails powerful women who have trodden the White House like Laura Bush (who came on the list in 2004) and Michelle Obama (who came on in 2009). The expectations are high for the second immigrant First Lady of the U.S. (Louisa Adams, first lady in 1825, was the first) especially with President Trump’s stance on immigration, according to Kelly Gibson, a political consultant at the media firm in D.C.. “I think the role that [she] plays on the administrations’ opinions about immigration and access to what makes people successful in this country could make for very interesting conversation,” Gibson said.

While the skepticism persists, insiders – especially Democrats – expect First Lady Melania Trump, who according to the latest CNN poll from September is the most favorable Trump, to become a more significant voice. “On the campaign trail, she said that her main focus if she were first lady would be to take on bullying. Now that she’s FLOTUS, we haven’t seen her do much on bullying,” political analyst Cartney McCracken said. “But finally, this past Thursday we saw Melania step up in tackling one of the biggest threats to Americans— fighting the opioid epidemic.”

At the White House event in October where President Trump declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency, Melania made the first remarks, a rare occasion thus far. “And I have recently taken a larger interest in what I can do to help fight this epidemic,” she told the crowd, evoking an applause. “I have been participating in meetings and listening sessions, and I have been visiting with people who have been affected by this disease.”

As Melania Trump becomes a voice in addressing the drug addiction epidemic, her critics want to see her do more. “This first lady has not used her position to effect the public good yet,” Kelly Gibson said. “I think the office, FLOTUS, deserves to be on the most powerful list. I don’t think [Melania Trump] has stepped up and fully realized the potential for the good she can do, but am hopeful she will.” – Written by 

Lists

The 12 Biggest Career Crashes Of 2018

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From boardrooms to courtrooms, sudden stumbles to drawn downfalls, 2018 saw more than a few high-profile careers completely collapse. Here are, in our judgment, the year’s biggest career crashes of all, arranged in alphabetical order.


Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr has never been a stranger to controversy, but until this year, no scandal—neither performing an intentionally crude rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” nor adopting Adolf Hitler’s likeness for a photo shoot—produced enough backlash to put a stop to the actress’ career. In the early hours of May 29, though, just two months after ABC had revived her namesake sitcom, Barr, known for being an outspoken alt-right advocate and conspiracy theorist, went on a wild Twitter tirade. Among her targets were Chelsea Clinton, George Soros and Obama-era White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, about whom she tweeted, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” A few hours later, she apologized, vowing to leave Twitter (a pledge that didn’t even last the day), but the damage was done: ABC had pulled the plug on Roseanne. In October, the network premiered a spin-off with most of the same cast titled The Conners—and killed off Barr’s character, the mordant matriarch, with an opioid overdose before it even began.

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Michael Cohen

It’s been a tumultuous decade for Michael Cohen. After joining the Trump Organization in 2007, the attorney proved himself to be the Donald’s greatest defender. But the “pit bull,” as he was once known, has been deep in the doghouse since January, when the Wall Street Journal reported that ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election he had arranged a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump 10 years prior. Four months later, Cohen became a focus of the Mueller investigation, with FBI agents raiding his office, hotel room and home, seizing millions of documents, including emails, tax records, tapes of conversations with Trump and evidence of the Stormy Daniels hush money. One week later, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that he was under criminal investigation for fraud and violations of campaign finance law. In June the president confirmed that he had severed ties with Cohen, and by August the lawyer had surrendered to the FBI, pleading guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful corporate contributions and excessive campaign contributions. But rock-bottom was still a ways off: On November 29 the disgraced attorney pleaded guilty to lying to Congressabout his involvement with Russians and a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, which was discussed as recently as the summer of 2016. He was sentenced to three years in prison on December 12.

Bryan Colangelo
Bryan Colangelo. Picture: TORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES

Roseanne Barr wasn’t the only celebrity whose tweets proved the catalyst for a career crash this year. On May 29, The Ringer published an investigationinto Bryan Colangelo, the former president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, alleging that he had been using five fake Twitter accounts to disparage league players and some of his colleagues, both past and present. One day later, the 76ers organization announced that they had launched an official investigation into the matter, and on June 7, Colangelo, who initially dismissed the claims, resigned. As it turns out, though, his denial wasn’t a complete lie: His wife, Barbara Bottini, admitted to creating and managing the Twitter accounts. Still, Colangelo was her source of information, per the 76ers’ investigation.

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Carlos Ghosn 

After 40 years in the auto industry, culminating at the helm of not one but three major carmakers, Carlos Ghosn’s career came to a screeching halt on November 19, when he was arrested in Tokyo following an internal investigation at Nissan that alleged misconduct including understating his salary to evade taxes and misusing company assets for years. Within the week, he had been ousted from his chairmanship at both Nissan and Mitsubishi. On December 10, Tokyo prosecutors charged Ghosn with underreporting his Nissan compensation by about $5 million over the course of five fiscal years through March 2015 and rearrested him for allegedly misstating his pay for an additional three fiscal years until March 2018. A court date has yet to be determined, but if found guilty, Ghosn—who has maintained his innocence and managed to retain his standing as CEO and chairman of Renault—could face as many as 10 years behind bars.

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes. Picture: NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Elizabeth Holmes 

If you thought that Theranos’ shuttering of its lab and laying off of 43% of its workforce in October 2016 marked the end of Elizabeth Holmes’ fall from entrepreneur superstardom, you weren’t alone—we believed the same exact thing when we included her on our list of career crashes two years ago. But in March 2018, the SEC charged the 34-year-old company founder, as well as Sunny Balwani, then president of Theranos, with defrauding investors, and it became clear that her professional plummet was far from over. Three months later, on June 15, she stepped down as CEO as federal prosecutors charged her and Balwani with alleged wire fraud, claiming “Holmes and Balwani engaged in a multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients.” At her June 16 arraignment, she pleaded “not guilty,” but in September, the once $9 billion company officially closed shop in what would appear to be the final chapter of Holmes’ career. All that’s left is her day in court, in limbo until the prosecution has concluded its investigation.

Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly. Picture: NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Megyn Kelly 

When Megyn Kelly left Fox News for NBC, in 2017, the former face of the The Kelly File explained the motivation behind her move on The Ellen Show, saying, “I didn’t want to be in the snake pit—I just wanted to cover the news.” Little did she know that only 13 months after the premiere of Megyn Kelly Today, she would be the news. During an October 23 segment on Halloween costumes, she defended blackface, stating, “What is racist? You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as a character.” The backlash, from NBC viewers and staffers alike, was immediate, and Kelly’s apology, delivered at the top of the next day’s episode, wasn’t enough. By Friday, Megyn Kelly Today had been canceled, leaving its former host and network in negotiations over Kelly’s $69 million contract. NBC is trying not to pay her anything more.

Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort. Picutre: GETTY IMAGES

Paul Manafort 

When Paul Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016, it wasn’t his first time on the trail; he had worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during their own White House races. It will, however, go down in history as his last. Just two months after he succeeded Corey Lewandowski as campaign chairman in June of that year, an August 12 article in The New York Times revealed that he had been paid $12.7 million by the political party of Ukraine’s former, and pro-Russian, president Viktor F. Yanukovych, for whom he had been a senior adviser. Manafort denied having received the alleged payments, but three days later, he was replaced by Steve Bannon and shortly thereafter resigned from the campaign altogether. In June of this year, special counsel Robert Mueller charged him with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, and in August he was found guilty of eight financial crimes. He negotiated a plea bargain with Mueller—cooperation in exchange for a sentence lighter than the maximum 80 years in prison—but that deal fell apart in November in light of allegations that he had repeatedly lied to the prosecutors he had agreed to work with and had his lawyer brief Trump’s lawyer on discussions with investigators. Now, Mueller’s team is reportedly considering bringing additional criminal charges against Manafort—yet another nail in the coffin of his career.

Les Moonves. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Les Moonves

For decades, Les Moonves was one of the most powerful executives in television, having played a key role in the development of hit series such as ER and Friends before moving to CBS where, over the past 13 years, he was credited with revitalizing the once lackluster network. He was also known as a proponent of the #MeToo movement, even helping to form the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace in December 2017. But all that proved to be but a façade when in August of this year The New Yorker published a piece detailing six women’s accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault by Moonves. He stepped down as CEO and chairman in September, and when more women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, he denied all of the allegations. For a while it looked as though he might manage to make his exit with every cent of his $120 million severance package. Then in early December, a 59-page report by lawyers for the CBS board charged that the media mogul had been obstructing their investigation, destroying evidence and intentionally lying to investigators in an attempt to minimize the misconduct and save his severance. The document also divulged new allegations of nonconsensual, “transactional” sex, all of which he has responded to by permitting a lawyer of his to tell The New York Times that he “denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation.” If the report’s findings are true, they could be grounds for CBS to withhold all of Moonves’ millions.

John  Schnatter. Picture: Rob Kim/Getty Images

John Schnatter

John Schnatter kicked off 2017 on top of the world: Papa John’s was thriving, propelling his fortune into the billions, and he had become a household name, thanks, in part, to a sponsorship deal with the NFL. But that would all go up in flames by November, when, after months of slowing sales at Papa John’s, he weighed in on the national anthem protests, blaming the league’s tolerance of them for his company’s slipping stock. By the end of last year, Schnatter had stepped down as CEO, though he retained his position as chairman of the company he founded. Then in July 2018, Forbes reported that he had used the N-word during a conference call two months prior. On the call, a discussion of how to prevent further public relations catastrophes, Schnatter complained that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n——-s,” and KFC never faced repercussions. Hours later, he apologized for his language and denounced racism, but it didn’t help—he resigned as chairman that evening. Two weeks later, he filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s, alleging that the board had treated him in a “heavy-handed way,” and walked back his confession, allowing a lawyer of his to say, “John quoted the word and did not use the word.” In October, he took the stand, testifying against the pizza chain he built. The case is still ongoing, but his reputation is in tatters.

Eric Schneiderman
Eric Schneiderman. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Eric Schneiderman

Like Les Moonves, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement. He sued Harvey Weinstein and his namesake company to ensure victims received restitution for the sexual harassment and assault they said they had endured. But on May 7, The New Yorker, which had earlier brought the charges against Weinstein to light, revealed claims against Schneiderman, too, recounting allegations of sexual misconduct accusations from four women. Schneiderman, who has denied the allegations, resigned from his position the next day, but he won’t face criminal charges: After a six-month investigation into the allegations against him, it was determined that the statute of limitations for all of them had passed.

Jeffrey Tambor
Jeffrey Tambor. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Jeffrey Tambor

After a celebrated career in comedy and two Emmy wins for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman on Transparent, November 2017 saw Jeffrey Tambor come under investigation for sexual harassment. His accusers—Van Barnes, Tambor’s former assistant, and Trace Lysette, who plays Shea on Transparent—are both transgender women. Despite being fired from the hit Amazon Studios show in February 2018, he did reprise his role as George Bluth Sr. on Netflix’s Arrested Development in May. That same month, Jessica Walter, Tambor’s Arrested Development co-star and on-screen wife, told The New York Times that he had verbally abused her on set. Tambor has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, but he has acknowledged and apologized for his behavior toward Walter. While he doesn’t appear to be working on any film or television projects at this time, he is still slated to appear in Disney’s Magic Camp, to be released in 2019.

Wynn Resorts. Picture: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Steve Wynn

After nearly two decades spent building a casino empire, and with it much of the iconic Las Vegas strip, Steve Wynn’s house of cards came tumbling down in January, when The Wall Street Journal published an investigation into numerous allegations against him of sexual misconduct. The billionaire has vehemently denied the accusations, calling them “preposterous” and part of a smear campaign led by Elaine Wynn, his ex-wife and Wynn Resorts cofounder, but he stepped down as CEO and chairman in February, and sold his shares of the company in March. Seven months after cashing out, he filed a lawsuit against his former company and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, alleging that Wynn Resorts had improperly provided investigators with his private communications and attempting to block the release of documents related to the firm’s investigation. A hearing on those documents’ possible release is expected on December 20.

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Billionaires

Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet The Richest People On The Planet

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The gap between the really rich and the merely rich continues to widen, as fortunes soar to new heights. A record 2,208 billionaires made Forbes’ 32 annual ranking of the world’s billionaires. Altogether they are worth a record $9.1 trillion, up 18% from a year ago. The 20 richest people on the planet are worth a staggering $1.2 trillion, a sum roughly equivalent to the annual economic output of Mexico. In aggregate, they may represent less than 1% of total billionaires but their riches amount to 13% of the total fortune of all billionaires worldwide.

Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet and the first centi-billionaire atop our annual ranking. Shares of his e-commerce giant Amazon rose 59%  in 12 months, helping boost his fortune by $39.2 billion. It was the biggest one year gain since Forbes started tracking billionaires in 1987. He easily moved ahead of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, who ceded the top spot for only the sixth time since 1995.

READ MORE: Here’s Why Jeff Bezos Is Not Truly The Richest Man In History

France’s Bernard Arnault had the second best year after Bezos. Record results at his luxury goods empire LVMH and a deal to buy out nearly all of Christian Dior helped boost Arnault’s fortune by $30.5 billion. He is the richest European for the first time since 2012 and number four richest in the world.

Two tech entrepreneurs from mainland China climbed into the top 20 for the first time. Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma) is Asia’s wealthiest person, ranked number 17 in the world, thanks in part to his firm Tencent’s WeChat, a ubiquitous social-messaging app with nearly 1 billion active users. Tencent also has stakes in Tesla, Snapchat parent Snap and music-streaming service Spotify. Jack Ma, the 20th richest person, is the chief of another e-commerce giant Alibaba, whose shares increased 76% in a year.

Forbes pinned down 259 newcomers who made their fortunes in everything from tech and aerospace to private aviation and wedding dresses. China has the most new faces with 89, while the U.S. is next with 18. That is helping close the gap between the two nations. Altogether the U.S. has more billionaires than any country in the world with 585, while greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) has 476.

READ MORE: African Billionaire Fortunes Rise

On this year’s list, the billionaires hail from 72 countries and territories, including the first ever from Hungary and Zimbabwe. One country not represented: Saudi Arabia. Forbes chose to leave off all 10 Saudis given reports of asset seizures after the Saudi Crown Prince detained some 200 people, including some billionaires, some for as long as three months.

While the vast majority of the world’s billionaires added to their fortunes in the past 12 months, 16% had fortunes that slipped. One notable loser was President Donald Trump, whose fortune fell $400 million since March 2017 to a current $3.1 billion. He is now ranked 766 in the world, down from 544.

READ MORE: Donald Trump Drops $400 Million On Forbes Billionaires List

Go here for the full list of all the world’s billionaires.

Methodology

The Forbes World’s Billionaires list is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from February 9, 2018. Some people will become richer or poorer within weeks—even days—of publication. For example, Jeff Bezos’ net worth climbed more than $12 billion in the two weeks between our measuring date for stock prices and when this issue went to press. We list individuals rather than multigenerational families who share large fortunes, though we include wealth belonging to a billionaire’s spouse and children if that person is the founder of the fortune. In some cases we list siblings or couples together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear, but here an estimated net worth of $1 billion per person is needed to make the cut. We value a variety of assets, including private companies, real estate, art, yachts and more. We don’t pretend to know each billionaire’s private balance sheet (though some provide it). When documentation isn’t supplied or available, we discount fortunes. For daily updates of net worths, go to forbes.com/real-time-billionaires. – Written by 

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Life

The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists 2018

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Jay-Z Diddy hip-hop

Last June, when Jay-Z and Beyoncé welcomed twins to their family, they did what many couples do in the wake of a new arrival–move to a bigger home–on quite an epic scale. Over the next few months, they shelled out $26 million for an East Hampton mansion and scooped up an $88 million Bel Air estate, adding 21,000 square feet per newborn. That’s the sort of thing you can do when one partner is a pop demigod and the other is the richest rapper on the planet.

Jay-Z upped his net worth from $810 million to $900 million over the past year, seizing hip-hop’s cash crown for the first time since Forbes started counting back in 2011. The Brooklyn-born mogul’s jump is due mostly to the rising value of his interests in Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac, on top of nine-figure ownership stakes in his Roc Nation empire and Tidal streaming service.

“We always complain about, ‘We don’t own this, we don’t own that.’ … Here he is, this man who owns that,” superproducer Swizz Beatz told me in an interview for my book 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise. “The sky is not the limit: it’s just a view.”

Jay-Z, Diddy and Dre are not only the wealthiest hip-hop acts on the planet, but the richest American musicians of any genre. Longtime Forbes Five champ Diddy ranks No. 2 this year despite increasing his fortune slightly in the past 12 months; tepid trends in the vodka and cable TV sectors have affected his interests in Ciroc and Revolt, but heady growth at DeLeón tequila, his joint venture with beverage giant Diageo–and massive annual earnings totals in recent years–have kept his net worth trending in the right direction.

READ MORE: Kendrick Lamar: The Conscious Capitalist

Dre ranks third with $770 million, creeping upward thanks to the market trends boosting his nine-figure windfall from Apple’s $3 billion buyout of Beats in 2014. The superproducer is also in line to receive a slug of Apple stock this summer worth well over $100 million; depending on the tech giant’s share price at the time, he could leapfrog Diddy and Jay-Z when that happens.

After the top three, there’s a long drop before the fourth and fifth names on the list: Drake and Eminem, tied at an even $100 million apiece. The youngest impresario of the bunch, 31-year-old Drake has earned more than $250 million since 2010, before taxes and spending; an equity stake in Virginia Black whiskey and pricey estates in Toronto, Canada, and Hidden Hills, California, pad his holdings. His inclusion on the Forbes Five represents yet another career goal achieved.

“If I’m not on your list this year, I’d be gravely disappointed,” he told Forbes back in 2013. “That’s pretty much my objective every year … other than making good music.”

READ MORE: How DJ Khaled Rolls: Hip-Hop’s Boldest Star Shows Off His Major Keys

Eminem isn’t known as a businessman like some of the other names on this list, but he’s still the best-selling rapper of all time and moved more albums in the U.S. during the 2000s than any act in any genre. Fresh off new album Revival, he makes his Forbes Five debut as former listmember Birdman–Drake’s Cash Money Records boss–slips below the $100 million mark in the wake of some apparent liquidity issues.

To compile the Forbes Five rankings, we follow the same procedures used to calculate our list of the world’s billionaires (our annual update arrives Tuesday): valuing major assets, poring over financial documents, and speaking with analysts, attorneys, managers, other industry players and, in some cases, the moguls themselves.

So who will be the first hip-hop star to reach the billion-dollar mark? Trends in the spirits world could continue to play a key role for Jay-Z and Diddy. After the furious rise of vodka in the first part of this decade, fueled largely by flavored variants like those of Ciroc, the market has shifted towards cognac, whiskey and tequila.

“D’Ussé fits right in there,” says Eric Schmidt, Director of Alcohol Research at Beverage Marketing Corporation. “I think DeLeón is poised for growth … it could one day be the next Patrón, but it’s a long road.”

Jay-Z, meanwhile, shouldn’t be slacking off anytime soon: though he and Beyoncé bought their East Hampton abode outright, according to public records, their $88 million Bel Air mansion comes with a $52.8 million mortgage. – Written by 

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