China's No.1 celebrity makes most of his millions on America's basketball courts.
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming isn't China's only top star to win a disproportionate amount of fame and riches abroad, new celebrity power rankings released by the Chinese edition of Forbes suggest.
Hollywood martial arts dynamo Jet Li, Hong Kong pop diva Wang Fei and male crooner Leon Lai, whose image graces billboard ads all over the territory, also cracked the top 10 on the 100-person list, unveiled at a ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday.
Income in 2003 was the biggest single factor is compiling the list of 100 personalities, which attempts to track the transfer of fame into fortune, while media coverage was also counted.
Yao had the most press coverage and the second highest annual income and number of Web hits.
Most of his pre-tax income of US$14.50 million is thought to come from his salary with the Rockets and endorsements with Nike, Apple Computer and Visa.
Forbes, which began to publish in China last year, confined its list to stars born on the mainland "in view of the fact that the mainland's show business still lags behind Taiwan and Hong Kong," it said. But Chinese stars are doing better than before on the home front. Actress Zhang Ziyi, the face of Coca-Cola and Maybelline in China, came in second. Mainland television nymphet Zhao Wei was third.
(Shenzhen Daily February 11, 2004)