The Biggest Money Winners and Losers of the Year

As ranked by the editors of MONEY

photo illustration of winners of the year
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (4); AP (2); Disney (1); VW (1)
  • Winner: Taylor Swift

    Getty Images

    Last year Swift took on Spotify; this year she got Apple Music to blink. The company acceded to her demand to change how it paid musicians, which meant 1989 fans could enjoy their free trial and their favorite artist too.

  • Winner: Danny Meyer

    Getty Images

    In a bid to transform how Americans dine, the restaurateur said he would do away with tipping at his high-end venues. Meanwhile, his stake in new-IPO burger joint Shake Shack was worth $347 million at press time.

  • Winner: Star Wars

    Courtesy of Disney

    The Force Awakens is already exerting a gravitational pull on your wallet. The movie has racked up more than $1 billion in merchandise sales and $50 million in advance tickets—and it doesn’t even open until Dec. 18.

  • Winner: American Pharoah

    Getty Images

    Clutching a potential piece of history, very few of the 94,128 people who bet $2 on Pharoah to win the Belmont—and thus become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years—cashed in the slips (which paid $3.80).

  • Loser: United Airlines

    Getty Images

    CEO Jeff Smisek got $28.6 million in severance after stepping down amid a corruption debacle. Adding insult to injury for everyday air travelers, he also gets to fly first class for free—forever.

  • Loser: FIFA

    Getty Images

    In a blow to the world’s most popular sport, prosecutors indicted 22 officials of the international soccer organization in a $150 million bribery scheme.

  • Loser: Volkswagen

    Courtesy of VW

    The German automaker took a huge hit when it admitted to faking pollution ratings in 9 million diesels. To atone, the company is giving owners $500 gift cards and a $500 credit at dealers.

  • Loser: Blue Bell


    The ice cream and frozen-snacks maker recalled all its products and trashed 8 million gallons of ice cream because of listeria contamination linked to at least three deaths.

  • Loser: Takata


    In one of the biggest consumer recalls in history, roughly 34 million cars have been called back for faulty airbags made by the Japanese supplier, which was ordered to pay a fine of up to $200 million.

  • Winners and Losers

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