41 // Harry Potter
Wizard; Age: 17
Nine years after her fictional boy wizard first cast his spell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling is the wealthiest author in history. On July 21, fans who had camped out in front of bookstores overnight finally got hold of the seventh and final installment of the series. Across the United States, 8.3 million copies (worth a total of nearly $170 million) sold within 24 hours. Warner Bros., which has grossed $4.47 billion worldwide on the first five film versions, has two more movies in production. And while there’s speculation that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows represents the book industry’s last gasp, Potter himself will live on—through a theme park in Orlando, Florida, and a musical in London’s West End. This wizard will continue to work his financial magic for some time.

42 // Mr. Contagious
Andrew Speaker, Tuberculosis Carrier; Age: 32
This spring, a young Atlanta lawyer named Andrew Speaker caught a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis—initially diagnosed as a super-germ capable of infecting and killing tens of thousands of people—and then he stepped onto a plane. In the process, Speaker, who was quarantined at a Denver hospital for nearly 10 weeks, sent the entire country into a panic. But he represents more than just media-fed paranoia: Just like that kid a few towns away who supposedly came down with a staph infection, Speaker embodies the Great Contagion that always lurks a few coughs away, threatening a country’s increasingly fragile sense of security.

43 // The Gameboy
Jason Jones, Cofounder of Bungie Studios, Creator of the Halo franchise; Age: 35
On September 25, the gamer nation delivered the kind of box office Hollywood rarely enjoys these days when the first-person shooter Halo 3 hit the market and rang up $300 million in sales—in a week—to become the most successful launch in history. Jason Jones’ six-year-old franchise has become a financial boon for its owner, Microsoft, but he and Bungie intend to retain full ownership for their next game series. “For Bungie, magic has happened consistently enough that they’re considered one of the premier developers in the world,” says Ben Schachter, an Internet and video-game-industry analyst at UBS. “Like with a Spielberg movie, they’ll get the benefit of the doubt.” And, from the looks of things, a better opening weekend.

44 // Shawn Carter a.k.a. Jay-Z
President and CEO, Def Jam Recordings; Age: 38 (Last Year’s Rank: 20)
It’s a measure of the man’s stature that this counts as an off year: Jay-Z’s protégée Rihanna had the No. 1 song of the year in “Umbrella”—owing to a Jay guest spot—which helped his Def Jam label become the industry’s second-largest record company. While his November 2006 album, Kingdom Come, was dismissed as “adult-contemporary hip-hop,” it got Carter tie-ins with Budweiser and Hewlett Packard. It also went, oh, multi-platinum. And let’s not forget his clothing line, his stake in the New Jersey Nets, and his ranking atop Forbes’ list of the wealthiest rappers. But now it’s showtime again. Jigga started redeeming his street cred by announcing he would record an album inspired by the Harlem crime flick American Gangster (a lyrical return to a place the former drug dealer knows well)—which just shows, again, that no rapper generates more of a buzz when his Maybach pulls up to the studio.

45 // The Well-Dressed Man
Age: In his prime
Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin. Gregory Peck. Those guys looked so good in suits—impeccably cut specimens garnished with tie bars, pocket squares, and fedoras—that 50 years later, we’re still trying to capture the essence of their aesthetic. The suit that became popular during the Rat Pack’s rise and reigned through the Kennedy era has been resurrected. Whether you find it at Prada or Brooks Brothers, it projects the same image: that of authority. Its torchbearers—guys like George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio—are the antithesis of Mr. Casual Friday and the 35-year-old guy in a hoodie and Chucks. The symbol of corporate conformity has rightfully regained its title as the most stylish way for a man to dress.

46 // Ira Ehrenpreis
General partner, Technology Partners; Age: 38
In 2000, when a certain former vice president thrust environmental issues onto the national stage, venture capitalist Ira Ehrenpreis saw a golden opportunity: He guided his firm, Technology Partners, into investments in clean energy, transportation, and water. “All the technology was relatively new—there was no venture capital in it at all,” says Ron Pernick, coauthor of The Clean Tech Revolution. “And there was Ehrenpreis, leading the charge.” Now Ehrenpreis’ fund is the world’s largest player in venture capital for clean energy, accounting for more than 10 percent of global investments in the sector last year. He recently announced major stakes in the electric-car maker Tesla Motors as well as the biodiesel producer Imperium Renewables, which also attracted backing from billionaire Paul Allen. Where Ehrenpreis goes, so does the green.

47 // Michael Rapino
CEO, Live Nation; Age: 41
Everyone knows that the real money in the music business is in tours and T-shirts—not album sales. That’s why Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the world, is considered the industry’s sugar daddy. But now, spearheaded by Michael Rapino, the company is making the record business lucrative too. In October Rapino pulled off the landmark $120 million signing of Madonna, realizing his goal of offering “360-degree” deals that give Live Nation a cut of not only album sales but also live broadcasts, concert tickets, and merchandise ranging from posters to pillow covers. And once Live Nation’s deal with Ticketmaster expires in 2008 and Rapino’s company starts controlling ticket sales, it’s going to be a much, much bigger one.

48 // Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
Founder, Daily Kos; Age: 36 (Last Year’s Rank: 43)
Now that Moulitsas’ liberal blog, which counts Jimmy Carter among its contributors, gets 600,000 visitors a day, the entire left half of the Hill looks to the Kos the way networks look to the Nielsens. And now that some of the long-shot candidates he’s plugged—in some cases drafted—on his website have made it into office (among them Montana senator Jon Tester), he has become to political hopefuls what Oprah is to unheralded authors. “I can’t make a candidate from nothing,” he says. “But I can tap into huge amounts of homegrown support.” All that free advertising for Democrats (and the presidential debate at his Yearly Kos convention) has raised the GOP’s hackles, but the Federal Election Commission recently ruled that Kos’ empire is exempt from the campaign-finance rules that rein in political action committees—so for now, Moulitsas’ status as kingmaker remains incontrovertible.

49 // Mr. Rebound
Kelly Slater; Age: 35
Being a world-champion surfer has always been near the top of the list of male fantasy careers, but Kelly Slater has ridden the enviable profession to new heights. Post-Leo Gisele Bündchen, post-Justin Cameron Diaz (it’s been speculated), and post-Leo Bar Refaeli (not to mention post-Tommy Pam Anderson) all ran straight into Slater’s bronzed arms. With no apparent effort, Slater continues to lure top-notch girl after top-notch girl to his surfing hideouts for the kinds of short, sweet trysts those Entourage guys can only dream about. The cherry on top of Slater’s sundae? Nothing ends messily. Everybody stays friends, and he gets to catch the next wave.

50 // Tyler Perry
Playwright, actor, director, author, producer; Age: 38
A studio head began a recent meeting with Tyler Perry by asking, “So who are you, and what do you do?” This to a man whose production company will gross more than $1 billion by 2009, a man who controls a media empire that includes books (one a New York Times No. 1 best seller) and television (TBS shelled out $200 million for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne). Maybe it’s because no one in Hollywood gets Perry that he kisses up to a power player who does: Oprah. After all, his four movies hammer home themes like faith, family, and fidelity to a middle-class black audience that’s largely female. Three of those films have opened at No. 1 (including October’s Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?) despite being made for nickels and dismissed by critics. “This guy is a hit-making machine,” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracker Media by Numbers. “He’s becoming as sure a bet as anyone.” And once Hollywood realizes that, maybe Perry will decide he can stop putting his name in every movie title.