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The Social Media Supermodel Effect Takes Hold of Forbes's Highest-Paid Models List

Gisele still tops the list, but Gigi, Kendall and Karlie are gaining on her — fast.
Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss backstage at Balmain for H&M. Photo: Getty Images

Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss backstage at Balmain for H&M. Photo: Getty Images

For at least six years running, Gisele Bündchen has dominated Forbes's highest-paid models list, out-earning even her second-place competitors by millions (and getting slapped with a tax audit because of it in the process). It seemed like the Brazilian supermodel, who recently "retired" from the runway, would be unbeatable. But these days (perhaps you've heard?) social media-savvy models are dominating the scene — which means Gisele's $30 million throne may soon be usurped by an Instagirl

Forbes released its 2016 list of highest-paid models, and Gisele is still right there at the top with her $30.5 million paycheck. While that's certainly an impressive number, in 2015 she made $44 million, a drop from 2014's $47 million. Ouch. 

Fellow Brazilian Adriana Lima sits comfortably behind her in second place with $10.5 million, so what might account for the $13.5 million dollar difference in Gisele's payday? Instagram. Tying for third place this year are Instagirls Karlie Kloss and Kendall Jenner. It's a huge leap for Jenner — a 150 percent leap, to be precise — who made her first appearance on the list at number 16 just last year. In this period, her earnings have increased from $4 million to $10 million. Kloss more than doubled her previous earnings by taking more campaigns than any model on Forbes's list, pushing her from number 11 to third place. Like a Kloss, indeed.

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Even more remarkable are this year's newcomers: Gigi Hadid makes her Forbes debut on the list at number five, raking in $9 million thanks to her numerous contracts. She ties with fellow newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who makes the jump courtesy of royalties from her Marks & Spencer line. Other newbies include Victoria's Secret Angels Jasmine Tookes, Lily Aldridge and Taylor Hill (there's a reason those wings are so coveted), as well as Barbara Palvin, thanks to a number of beauty contracts.

"Retirement" is treating Cara Delevingne well, too; even though she dropped from number two to number seven, Forbes reports her overall earnings only dropped by $500,000. 

You can see the full list of 2016's top model earners at

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