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As 2022 Kicks Into Gear, The Rock Is No Longer The Highest Paid Instagram Celebrity

Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs and Shaw
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Dwayne The Rock Johnson is no longer the king of the Instagram ring. Although the Black Adam star has an astronomical number of social media followers, he dropped from the top-earning spot on Instagram as 2022 kicked into high gear. Who ousted the Rock from his throne? The answer might surprise you. 

According to Hopper’s Instagram Rich List, Dwayne Johnson was the second-highest paid celebrity on the popular social media platform at the end of 2021. If one of the globe’s biggest movie stars wasn’t number one, who was? That distinctive honor belongs to none other than Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano). The Portugal native is considered by many to be one of the best soccer players in the world. While a pro athlete may not seem like the obvious Instagram ruler, Cristiano Renaldo certainly has the celebrity credentials. 

In addition to his stellar soccer stats, Cristiano Renaldo’s Instagram account boasts some pretty impressive numbers. He’s the most-followed individual on the platform, with over 390 million followers as of January 19, 2022. Hopper reports that he makes about $1.6 million per Instagram post, beating out Dwayne Johnson’s number of $1.5 million. The income is bolstered by brand collaborations and promotions. Consider that Cristiano Renaldo usually posts at least three times a week, and he stands to make over at least $19 million a month. Not too shabby, right? 

Cristiano Renaldo and Dwayne Johnson aren’t the only celebs who made bank on Instagram over the last year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, pop singer Ariana Grande (who was just cast in the long-awaited Wicked movie) and reality star turned business mogul Kylie Jenner nabbed the third and fourth spots, respectively. Selena Gomez kept Kim Kardashian from cracking the top five (keeping up her winning social media streak), although the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star and her half-sister Kendall Jenner are both in the top 10. Every member of the Kardashian clan, including Khloe and the newly-engaged Kourtney, are in the top 20 of the most-followed accounts. 

What drives these numbers? Many celebrities seem to be achieving their sky-high stats through brand promotions. The Kardashians in particular are famous for touting their own companies to their followers. Kim Kardashian regularly advertises for her insanely popular shapewear brand SKIMS, while Kylie Jenner is frequently spotted using her Kylie Cosmetics beauty products in fan-focused demonstrations. Other celebrities promote other brands - Cristiano Renaldo has promoted brands like Clear Hair Care, MEO, and Herbalife, while Dwayne Johnson regularly espouses products like Zoa energy drinks (he’s doing a Zoa Instagram livestream as I type this sentence). 

Whether the top Insta earner is Cristiano Renaldo or Dwayne Johnson, the social media platforms give these celebs the opportunity to connect with their fans and grab some cash at the same time. Now that’s a good deal. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.