What financial crisis?

For a chosen few, the economic recession isn't even noticeable because they are still rolling in the dough. In fact, some of the most powerful celebrities are still making bank. But it isn't just their fame that's helping them keep the cash rolling in in this tough market: these high earners have smarts, too. Let's take a look at some lessons we can learn from how these stars have managed to keep smiling through the recession.

Athletes
Tiger Wood's hurt knee didn't hurt his bank account; despite playing with an injury, he limped in with more than $100 million in earnings last year. Tiger's current rival, also fared well. In fact, Phil Michelson wasn't yelling "fore!", but rather forty, as in $40 million last year. Similarly, basketball stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James still can't drive past Michael Jordan - they all live in the same lofty air, having each earned about $40 million in 2008.

Politicos
President Obama can't be overlooked as a celebrity author with his $2.5 million in book earnings. Although he spent more than 100 times more than that on campaign ads, it's still not bad for a government employee. (Would Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Kissinger have made good corporate executives? What about Alexander the Great? Check out If These Famous World Leaders Were In Finance.)

But the real money in celebrity politics comes from the talking heads. Former TV celebrity Al Franken may be headed to the Senate, but AM-radio host Rush Limbaugh is headed to the bank, with more than $50 million in earnings last year and reports of a $400 million eight-year deal to continue serving up his conservative banter. Fox News Channel newcomer Glenn Beck made just under half that at $23 million - but it's a start and, it's almost twice that of "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who earned $14 million in 2008.

Entertainers
Angelina Jolie raked in $27 million. Not to be outdone, Brad Pitt tops that by a cool million for a combined household income of $55 million. Of course, this would pales in comparison to the "material girl's" $100 million plus, except that Madonnna failed to sign a prenup with former mate Guy Ritchie, so at least some of that is his.

A nice surprise in entertainment was the financial acumen of Beyonce. All that talent and brains too? That's a lethal combination as her empire rolled in with $87 million.

But the bigger surprise came from American Idol. No, it wasn't Simon Cowell, although, he did just buy a $22 million, 11,550-square-foot Beverly Hills home recently and his one-year deal with Fox ($36 million) was inked to add to his total take of $75 million last year. In fact, the surprise top celebrity earner was Ryan Seacrest, with his combined take of $38 million. Who would have guessed that? (Stop chasing the market and start leading it. Read Five Things Every Real Estate Investor Should Know.)

The Big Kahuna
Is there any stopping the force that is Oprah? With $275 million rolling in over the last year, she has long since past being a talk show host. She's a business force, and a self-made one at that. Her own network is the next step as she systematically takes over the world.

Lessons
Regardless of economic conditions, the cream still rises to the top. Clearly, these celebrities and many more are still making big bucks despite the economic malaise. Sure some of them are riding on long-term contracts that were signed in good times, but most are still making it happen right now. Here are three lessons you can take to the bank:



Be great at what you do.

No one thinks Tiger Woods is lucky, but Oprah isn't lucky either. She's Oprah because she wants to be the best at what she does. Talent may provide more opportunity, but to get to the top, it's all about the work. If you are the best at what you do, you're recession-proof - or as close to it as it gets. (To learn more about surviving an economic downturn, take a look at 7 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Life.)

Diversify. Average people have only one income source, one skill set and only one thing they can do for a living. Not one of the top celebrity earners makes money from only one source. They have different income streams that add up to these monstrous totals. Athletes have endorsements, talk show hosts have websites and pundits get book deals and speaking engagements. Those at the top know to get money coming in from more than one source and do more than one thing for a living. If you can do the same, even in a small way, at least you'll have something to fall back on if your top source of income falls through.

Think long term. There aren't any shortcuts to making big bucks. Most of these stars work at it far longer than anyone would imagine before they become what appears to be an "overnight success". Tiger was on "The Michael Douglas Show" putting golf balls with Bob Hope when he was two years old; more than 30 years later, he's still working hard to achieve his goals. Determination is what pushes the most successful people through tough times and it can do the same for you. When you hit a rough patch, think long term and keep your eye on the big picture.

If you do the hard work, stay focused on what it takes to become great at what you do and diversify your work to create multiple income streams, you'll be making bank in any economy too. After all, if Ryan Seacrest can do it, you can too! (Financial downturns are part of the economic cycle and may have important long-term benefits. Learn what they are by reading Recession And Depression: They Aren't So Bad.)

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