Kevin Hart has no reason to lament being left out as the Oscars’ lead man.
Despite backing out of hosting the Academy Awards earlier this month when a series of insensitive tweets he posted years ago resurfaced on social media, Hart, 39, finished the year second on Forbes’ World’s Highest-Paid Comedians of 2018 list with his earnings totaling $57 million.
The animated stand-up comedian and actor trailed only Jerry Seinfeld, and only by $500,000. Seinfeld, 64, has topped the list every year since it began in 2006, except one, when Hart beat him out in 2016.
“Kevin has always stuck to his blueprint of delivering bits that millions of people can relate to,” a source close to the “Night School” actor told Fox News on Wednesday. “He’s always looked at the great comedians and his relationship with his fans as a benchmark for his success and wanted to make his mark on stand-up comedy by making arena and stadium tours part of the normal disposition. Selling out stadiums is no longer an overly ambitious goal in the landscape.”
Although ABC charged millions of dollars per 30-second advertisement for the broadcast, late-night host Jimmy Killel said he earned just $15,000 to host last year's show. The tiny paycheck for hosting duties has made it difficult for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to lure top talent to take hosting duties for years, TMZ reported, citing multiple sources familiar with the show.
Sources also told the outlet that the opportunity to host on the biggest night in entertainment is more about the prestige and less about the pay.
Last week, Seinfeld defended Hart to NBC News’ Willie Geist during a “Sunday Today” interview explaining that Hart put himself in a position to make whatever decision he wanted, but replacing him isn’t as easy as it sounds.
"Kevin is in a position, because he's a brilliant comedian, to kind of decide what he wants to do. He doesn't have to step down, but he can,” Seinfeld said.
“When you look at that situation, well, who got screwed in that deal?" he asked. "I think Kevin's going to be fine. But find another Kevin Hart, that's not so easy."
Fox Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.