Madonna certainly has reason to smile. With an extra $125 million to her name between June 2012 and June 2013, the Material Girl takes the top spot on Forbes' list of the highest-paid celebrities of 2013.
The veteran performer's latest world tour, MDNA, pulled in most of the money. John Simson, director of American University's Business and Entertainment program, said the cost of concert tickets makes that no surprise.
"There's far more money being made in touring because of those high-priced tickets," he explained, "people are willing to spend $200 to go to an event, whereas 20 years ago, they were spending $20."
A distant second on the Forbes list is Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, with $100 million in earnings -- mostly from blockbuster films like E.T. and Jurassic Park.
Simson said it's no coincidence that many of the top earners are from or based in the United States.
"The United States just has always had this incredible ability to create stuff that the rest of the world consumes. You go around the world, in most countries, conservatively, 30 to 50 percent of the music you'll hear is made here in the United States. And the same thing is true with a lot of motion pictures," Simson noted.
Coming in third on the list with $95 million...a three-way tie among media moguls Simon Cowell and Howard Stern, and British author E.L. James, whose bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey earned her a movie deal.
Further down at No. 9 is last year's top earner, Oprah Winfrey, falling $88 million to $77 million.
Madonna's fellow pop star, Lady Gaga, surged to seventh place, sharing the slot with Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Both earned $80 million in the past year.
John Simson says consumers are likely to keep the money flowing.
"We love stories. We love telling each other stories, and so, when we find great storytellers, whether they're songwriters, whether they're authors, whether they're movie makers, we're captivated," he said.
Such captivation, of course, also applies to sports stars. Golf champion Tiger Woods ranked as the only athlete in the top 10 highest earnings levels, in a tie at No. eight with U.S. movie producer Tyler Perry.