Gerry Ryan, the owner of Jayco Caravans, who shot to prominence last month when his horse Americain won the Melbourne Cup, has added a new title to his trophy cabinet – Australia’s top earning entertainer.
Ryan is the investor behind the hit animatronics arena production Walking with Dinosaurs, which is produced by a Melbourne-based company called Global Creatures.
The company has been named as Australia’s highest earning entertainer by BRW magazine after posting earnings of $140 million last year.
Global Creature’s Walking with Dinosaurs show has played to 6.6 million people since its launch in September 2007, and has grossed more than $350 million to global box offices.
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Ryan provided $150,000 in seed funding to build the first animatronics dinosaur for testing.
“Due to my engineering and manufacturing background, I got excited about the concept because of the technologies that would go into making a dinosaur of that size and the lightweight materials that would be used to create such a critter,” he told BRW.
“It was reasonably risky. If the show didn’t take off we could always have had an exhibition, which was a downside but would at least get a return on some of the capital involved.”
Ryan has since invested $20 million in the company and now owns an 80% stake in Global Creatures.
The production company just edged out rock legends AC/DC, which grossed $131.4 million on their global world tour.
Perennial top earners The Wiggles were third at $33.5 million, followed by actor Hugh Jackman and singer Keith Urban.
BRW also released their list of Australia’s top sports earners. Formula one driver Mark Webber topped the list with earnings of $13.4 million the last 12 months, ahead of basketball star Andrew Bogut with $12.6 million and motocross rider Chad Reed, with $7.5 million.