JK Rowling net worth: how much money does Harry Potter author have - and is she being paid for new HBO series?
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JK Rowling is one of the world’s most famous authors and the woman behind the pop culture behemoth that is Harry Potter. A multi-millionaire today, Rowling was a single mum surviving on benefits when she started writing the first Harry Potter book in 1990.
The world’s highest-paid author for several years, Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury took a chance on her debut novel. The rest is history, but Rowling’s earnings are now far more diversified than the seven books and eight movies that made her a household name.
In spite of her huge success with the Harry Potter franchise, Rowling has become a pariah among many fans of the series because of her outspoken views on trans issues, notably her opposition to trans women having access to biological women’s spaces.
Though many others have defended Rowling’s stance, a significant portion of the Harry Potter fanbase have boycotted new projects linked to the franchise to avoid contributing to the enrichment of its creator, though so far these efforts have not dented Rowling’s huge earnings.
What is JK Rowling’s net worth?
J.K. Rowling is believed to be the richest author in the world, surpassing the likes of James Patterson, Stephen King, and Dan Brown. The Harry Potter novels, which she penned between 1997 and 2007, have been published in several different editions and sold a total of 500 million copies.
According to Forbes, Rowling was the highest paid author worldwide in 2019, taking in $92 million (£73 million) for the year. Rowling’s total net worth is estimated to be around $1 billion (£800 million) in 2023, as reported by Books of Brilliance.
She continues to earn around £40 million to £80 million a year from various projects, most of which are connected to the Wizarding World, but she has previously claimed she is not a billionaire.
How did JK Rowling make her money?
Whilst the Harry Potter novels certainly made Rowling a multi-millionaire, and the eight movies added an estimated £200 million to her fortune, they are no longer directly her biggest income stream. Most of Rowling’s earnings now come from theme park rides based on the Wizarding World.
Rowling received a one-time licensing fee for the attractions but, because she is also a consultant for the rides, she gets a percentage of ticket sales, as well as a cut of merchandise and food and drink sales. Her total earnings from the five Wizard World theme parks in the US, Japan, and Beijing, and London’s Harry Potter studios is unknown but is believed to be in the tens of millions annually.
Rowling also made money from the video game Hogwarts Legacy, which some fans boycotted when it was released this year over concerns regarding Rowling’s comments on trans rights. Rowling was not directly involved in the game’s creation, but she retains the rights to the Harry Potter intellectual property. This means that she still receives royalties from any projects based on the franchise.
Although it pales in comparison to her Harry Potter earnings, Rowling has also made a small fortune from her Cormoran Strike novels, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She has published six novels in the crime series so far, and the first four have been adapted into a BBC series produced by her own production company Brontë Film and TV.
Rowling paid herself dividends of more than £15 million from her company between 2018 and 2020 due to the success of the series. Her Strike novels are also thought to net the author at least £1 million each.
It was previously reported that Rowling dropped off Forbes’ billionaire list because of the amount of money she donates to charity - in 2011 she donated 16% of her net worth at the time (around £130 million) to charity.
Snopes stated that Rowling lost her billionaire status due to both her charitable giving and higher tax rates in Britain. In 2013 she donated all the money made from the Harry Potter spin-off short story book The Tales of Beedle the Bard, around £19 million to her charity Lumos.
Is JK Rowling being paid for HBO Harry Potter series?
As the HBO Harry Potter reboot series will be adapted from Rowling’s novels, to which she continues to own the intellectual property, she will receive royalties from the show. Additionally, she is on board as an executive producer for the project and will likely receive a sizeable sum for the role.
Metro reported that Rowling could earn a whopping £100 million across the seven season project, including the £18 million she reportedly sold the TV rights for back in 2016.
With added potential for more merchandising deals, and with her continued expansion of other projects such as the Strike series, Rowling could well regain her billionaire status by the end of the decade.