Thirty-six years ago, Michael Jackson released an album that cemented his status as the world's biggest pop star.
"Thriller," released on November 30, 1982, went on to become the world's best-selling music album in history. The iconic album, featuring hits like the title track as well as "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," has sold over 33 million copies, and counting, in the United States alone, according to recent numbers from the Recording Industry Association of America.
While the Eagles album "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" recently passed "Thriller" in terms of all-time American sales (with 38 million, according to RIAA), Jackson's classic album is still recognized as the best-selling album ever in terms of global sales. While estimates vary, "Thriller" is said to have sold at least 66 million copies globally, according to the Guinness World Records, while others have claimed the album has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
What is clear is that the release of "Thriller" kicked off a period of massive earnings for Jackson, with Forbes reporting that the "King of Pop" pulled in $134 million (from album sales, touring and other sources) in just the two years following the album's release. In total, Jackson earned over $1.1 billion during his lifetime, according to Forbes, which also noted that the singer's estate continues to collect massive amounts of posthumous cash ($700 million in the first five years after Jackson's 2009 death, the publication reported in 2014).
While a classic album like "Thriller" obviously was, and continues to be, a major earner for Jackson and his estate, the singer also made money by staying busy through a variety of ventures, from a clothing label to endorsements for brands like Pepsi.