Cowell, 50, beat out The Apprentice show host Donald Trump (US$50 million) and American Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest (US$38 million), based on estimated pre-tax earnings from June 1, 2008 – June 1, 2009.
Most of the top earners have several entertainment related ventures, Forbes said. Cowell has his own record label which has signed singers including Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, in addition to his duties as a judge on American Idol — the most watched TV show in the US for seven years.
Apart from The Apprentice, Trump lends his name to products ranging from neckties to vodka and reaps fees from speeches and books.
Seacrest, 34, has a Los Angeles morning radio show, is a celebrity TV host and developed the TV reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, as well as hosting American Idol.
Rounding up the top five were Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen (US$21 million) and The Office actor Steve Carell (US$20 million). — Reuters.